Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans overwhelmed a small group of conservatives known as the Boston Free Speech Coalition today at the “free speech rally” they had planned for today, a week after the bedlam in Charlottesville claimed the life of young counterprotester Heather Heyer.
This massive and nonviolent public rejection of white nationalism reverberated across the U.S. on Saturday, with more than half a dozen cities holding demonstrations of the kind. Although the organizers of the event, a had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, it didn’t do them very much good. There’s a time and a place for everything, and one would think to expect more sensitivity, from anyone possessing any sense.
The counterprotesters suspected white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, so they showed up in number, holding signs saying things like “Make Nazis Afraid Again”, and “Whites Against White Supremacy”. Officials said the rally was the largest of about a half dozen around the country on Saturday, and drew about 40,000 people. This is an amazing time to be alive.
However, we as Democrats can’t allow ourselves to get sidetracked by this completely. We must also continue to focus on other important issues, such as jobs and the economy. It won’t be enough to just be anti- Trump. Just before his recent termination, Steve Bannon gleefully chortled that he “Hopes they talk about race every day“, so that he can “crush us”. By this he means that he feels it a mistake on our part to focus on this issue exclusively, which would indeed be a blunder. We don’t intend to let this happen.
Boyd Brown of South Carolina said that Democrats are right to be focusing on Trump’s unacceptability and revolting comments and views, but that “we have to talk about a lack of jobs and education in poor districts, voter suppression laws. Ask why Medicaid funding is always the target. And then explain how all those things hurt more than just African-Americans.” Aptly stated.
Trump was able to upset Hillary Clinton with a lot of help from Russia and the solidity of his base among white voters. Many working-class whites came out of the Great Recession nursing a grudge toward Obama, comprised of a combination of economic frustration and habitual racial resentments. Trump’s promises of border walls, a strengthened economy, and a return to the status quo resonated deeply with his voters, to the point where they have proven themselves willing to forgive him anything.
One Parson Hicks, a health care finance executive and strong supporter of Trump, had the following statement to make on whether or not the Charlottesville aftermath is to be a game-changer, in her view. “Let’s be honest, the people who are currently outraged are the same people who have always been outraged,” said Ms. Hicks, 35, a lifelong Republican who lives in Boston. “The media makes it seem like something has changed, when in reality nothing has.”
Perhaps not for them. For us, however, everything has changed. The death of Heather Heyer has galvanized and strengthened us, and hardened our resolve. This will be necessary to win the coming battles.
The thing to remember, though, is that all of it is pointless if we don’t turn out to vote. Our generation, the millennial generation, is now the largest voting group in the country. We have the power to clean this mess up, and we are going to use it. In keeping with that line of thinking, it is the pleasure of Millennial Democrats to announce that the Democratic National Committee has entered the fray in earnest. The ongoing waves of protests that have followed the Charlottesville tragedy have prompted the launching of a #RiseAndOrganize campaign to direct us to the voting booths.
“In addition to calling on Republicans to denounce Trump, the next step is getting people to commit to vote,” explained DNC chief executive Jess O’Connell. “This is a galvanizing moment.” There is no doubt that last is true, for both us and the opposition. There’s been plenty of trouble already, and it’s certain to get worse before it gets better. But their murder of our martyr has handed us all the cards. From where the sun now stands, we will win this war together.