Women Seek To Use Marches As Springboard For Action

By Neil Vigdor
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In Connecticut, progressive activists who participated in the Women’s march are now focusing their efforts on tangible goals. From lobbying state lawmakers to get Connecticut to join a national popular vote compact to championing municipal ordinances banning the disposal of fracking waste, they want to harness their newly organized political power.

Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

The pink yarn is down to the end. Their signs linger on Instagram.
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They went their separate ways — but didn’t.

For the thousands of Connecticut women who stormed Washington, New York City, the state Capitol in Hartford and Trump Parc in Stamford on Jan. 21, they say the march is only just beginning.

Many of them are trying to harness the momentum of the historic display into concrete action against President Donald Trump and what they term his hostile agenda toward women, immigrants and the environment.

They have channeled it into postcard-writing campaigns, a national popular vote initiative, political litmus tests, recruitment of women candidates and, yes, more protests.

“It’s not that the event is over and now what do I do?” said Coline Jenkins, the great-great-granddaughter of suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton. “People are seriously committed for their lifetimes to these issues.”

The Greenwich resident went to both Trump’s inaugural and the Women’s March on Washington, donning an ubiquitous “pussy hat” for both events.

“I wore it there because I know Trump had said that he’s a star and he can grab p–,” Jenkins said. “I found it objectionable that he could put his p– grabbing hands on the Lincoln Bible and take the presidential oath.”

There are multiple fronts in the battle for Jenkins, who spends every summer in Seneca Falls, N.Y., celebrating the anniversary of the first women’s rights convention.

“Yes, the midterm elections are important, but it is also important to get women into the pipeline,” said Jenkins, who serves on the Representative Town Meeting.

Nasty women
Lisa Boyne, the lead organizer of the Stamford march that drew 5,000 people and shut down city streets, said don’t underestimate the staying power of the protests.

“What you saw is a teaser for what’s to come,” Boyne said. “You think the tea party was motivated? The tea party has never met a group of nasty women. Nasty women get s— done.”

The Fairfield resident last week spearheaded a postcard-writing campaign and demonstration outside the Bridgeport office of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., urging him to block the Cabinet nominees of Trump. On Saturday, Boyne planned to attended a League of Women Voters legislative forum in Fairfield, where she intended to put state lawmakers on the hot seat.

“We’re going to be challenging these local Republicans to see if they support Trump and his policies,” Boyne said. “If they are, I’m going to be working to have them replaced.”

Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, said the marches that took place around the nation and world evolved from Occupy Wall Street, the Black Lives Matter protests after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and populist appeal of Bernie Sanders. She attended the one in Hartford, which drew 10,000 to the state Capitol.

“I don’t think that the women’s march stands on its own without mattering in the context of these other movements that have been building as well,” Farrell said. “What’s next?”

The liberal minor party has been lending its support to rallies for immigrants’ rights and legislation to make Connecticut a so-called “sanctuary state,” which would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation. Last week, Trump signed an executive order threatening to yank federal funding from sanctuary cities and jurisdictions.

Showing activists how they can meet with their legislators is also part of the tack of the Working Families Party, which Farrell said is committed to sustaining the effort.

“We could never motivate people as well as this guy,” Farrell said of Trump.

Personality politics
Not all women say that the widespread protests helped their cause, however.

“It really degenerated into something really ugly,” said Frances Pulle, a political science instructor at Naugatuck Valley Community College and Bethel Republican who serves on the town’s zoning appeals board. “They really alienated a lot of people. People are telling me, ‘They don’t speak for me.’ ”

Pulle cited comments by Madonna at the DC march in which the Material Girl said, “Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.”

“They went about it the wrong way,” said Pulle, a Trump voter. “What they had, they had numbers. They had a lot of mad people out there.”

Stamford’s Nina Sherwood, a Bernie Sanders delegate to last summer’s Democratic National Convention, said the political left needs to avoid personality politics.

“I don’t think we as a party need to continue to demonize the other side,” Sherwood said. “What Democrats need to realize is most of the Republicans want the same things that we want.”

Sherwood said progressive activists like herself are focusing their efforts on tangible goals, from lobbying state lawmakers to get Connecticut to join a national popular vote compact to championing municipal ordinances banning the disposal of fracking waste.

Trump is the fifth president to win the electoral vote despite losing the popular vote, thanks to victories in the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan and Wisconsin. Each state in the compact would award its electoral votes based on the national popular vote, regardless of individual outcomes.

“I think the spotlight is on every single thing that Trump does,” said Sherwood, who added that progressives are gearing up for the next governor’s race in 2018.

Sherwood said there are already many women who are already political engaged, but that they face barriers.

“I think we do them a disservice if we won’t acknowledge that,” Sherwood said of their work. “We’re hoping to break those (barriers) down.”

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