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Women’s March New Orleans winds down Decatur Street. Photo by Paul Broussard

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Women’s March-New Orleans. It was one of over 600 sister marches to the Women’s March on Washington, DC that followed the inauguration of Donald Trump as 45 President of the United States.

The news reports pegged the numbers in DC at half a million and over 10,000 here in New Orleans! About 3 million all told around the country and world.

It was marvelous being surrounded by so many who are passionate about their resistance. I had to wonder, though, where was all this passion in November?

Did you know 110,450,842 members of the eligible voting population did not vote?

The crowd in New Orleans was pretty diverse but there were more white women than any other demographic. It made me reflect on those in the state of Louisiana and across the nation who voted for Trump.

Did you know that 62,979,636 total votes for Trump were cast, of which 53%  were from white women?

People joked prior to the election about writing in Mickey Mouse on their ballots. I wonder how many of the people didn’t even vote for the top of the ticket.

Did you know that 2,395,271 people voted but didn’t vote for president?

Sexism was a strong theme to the season with Trump being openly misogynistic and many others mansplaining away their issues with Clinton. While I adore the feminist men who are marching in solidarity today, I can’t help considering the bros who trolled me on Twitter in support of third party candidates.

Did you know Gary Johnson brought in 4,484,244 votes while Jill Stein took another 1,454,244 votes?

I had so many negative discussions about the election and I believe that, more than the bad media coverage, those conversations might have convinced many in crucial swing states to stay away from their polling place on election day.

Did you know that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.86 million votes, which is unfortunately irrelevant as only the Electoral College matters?

Of course, many of those who didn’t vote did so because they had been disenfranchised by Republican led attacks on voting rights.

Did you know that fourteen critical states enacted laws restricting voter access including cutting back early voting, restricting voter registration, and imposing strict voter ID requirements? Such laws disproportionately harm students, the poor and people of color. A report from the Williams Institute found that around 34,000 transgender voters may be effectively blocked from voting in states that require photo IDs because the IDs may not accurately reflect their gender. In 2014, the Government Accounting Office attributed a 2 to 3% drop in voter participation that was attributable to changes in voter ID requirements. (GAO-14-634).

I am very concerned that many of the people who seem so energized this weekend won’t vote in the next election. Here in Louisiana, we have a municipal election on March 25 in addition to the fall election.

Did you know that voter turnout in mid-term elections drops significantly and is getting worse? In 2014, just under 37% of eligible voters turned out to vote, the lowest level seen in a midterm since World War II.

I cling to the hope that our anger from the presidential election lasts beyond the time it takes us to disperse to our individual homes. Echoing the speakers, I implore all who were inspired by the sheer number of people in the streets to step up now. Trust me, the real work of resistance hasn’t yet begun.

The Women’s March page has ways to get folks started with their 10 actions in 100 Days.

We must build on our numbers in order to stop harmful legislation as well as to get beneficial legislation passed. If you can’t make it to Baton Rouge (or your state capital) or Washington, DC, during the legislative session to have your voice heard, please support the organizations on the front lines doing so with financial contributions and/or volunteer time. A number of these organizations are members of Louisiana Legislative Agenda for Women (Greater New Orleans NOW, NCJW New Orleans, ACLU-LA, IWO, WWAV-NO, Louisiana Progress, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Greater New Orleans AAUW, etc, etc) and could use your support.

We must engage with our elected officials! Here in Louisiana, the Secretary of State has lists of all elected representatives – go to the Find Elected Officials page and search the database or download the excel file. If those in Congress or in State legislatures or on City councils or serving on school boards prove unresponsive to We the People, gird your loins to work on electing someone else who will be. I also hope that some of those in the crowd considering running for office themselves.

Most crucially, I implore each and everyone of you to vote in the next election. And the one after that.

Please? For the sake of all of us, we must vote.

******

The title of this post comes from the Sweet Honey in the Rock song “Ella’s Song: We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”

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