My Voice is Important. I Will Not Quietly Allow Our Rights to be Stripped Away.

I marched because ALL women’s rights are important. Trump plans to overturn the Affordable Care Act which threatens Planned Parenthood, availability to birth control, safe abortions, and inclusive sex education. I marched because I wanted white women to see that ALL women matter, not just them–and also to help them realize that Trump and his appointees don’t care about them. My voice is important and I will NOT quietly allow my rights to be stripped away, nor will I stand by while other people’s rights are being stripped away–especially not by an angry, fearful man.

I Want Members of Congress to Have Courage (and they need to if they want to keep their jobs)

Why did I march?

Some folks have suggested it is an emotional response. OK. I’ll admit to being shaken in November – not only by the election of Trump, but by the idea that so many of my fellow citizens would vote for him. I am angry. I am scared about what the future holds for the next four years, and well beyond.

Maybe this is desperation. But desperation is not all bad. When there are no simple logical solutions, perhaps the desperate act is logical. To do nothing while Trump appoints cabinet secretaries to departments they are hostile to is not acceptable to me. To do nothing while he dismantles the Affordable Care Act without a soft landing to millions who depend on it is not acceptable. To do nothing while the GOP pushes through tax cuts that will explode the deficit as a pay-off to the wealthy is not acceptable.

I need to do something and marching was something to do.  I’m hoping it has value. If it does not, hopefully the next thing I do will. The political process is not limited to elections. This is happening now. I’m not waiting two years to take action.

What do I hope to accomplish?

I have no hopes that a march will drive a revolt or a dismantling of the electoral college. I know Trump will not be impeached over any of the things we know today. I know he doesn’t care about me or my concerns.  And whether I get 10 million people to sing Kumbaya in perfect harmony is irrelevant to that fact.

But, I have hope for Republican leaders. They are the only ones who can slow Trump down from some of his most destructive tendencies. Fortunately, I don’t think many GOP congressmen are really on board with Trump. But they’re scared of him. He and his followers can end their careers. Trump has leverage over them, and many of them lack the political courage to stand up to him. For example, after the “pussy grab” tape came out, many of the GOP politicians piled on Trump. He then struck back. His numbers went down. Their numbers went down more. And they folded, with some notable exceptions like McCain and Sasse.

While it doesn’t say much for their character, it does give us a possible path forward. If Congressmen are too cowardly to cross Trump, we need to make it just as bad politically to side with him. A massive progressive/moderate resurgence is the only path to that end. Maybe that wasn’t just 15,000 -20,000 progressives marching for an event. Maybe it is 15,000+ foot soldiers signing up for duty. The 100+ people on these two buses are spending 60 hours away from any comforts of home, including showers or beds, to have their voices heard. And they’re all smiling today. There is a political movement coming for any congressman who cowers from Trump. We’re saying, “Fear us more than Trump.”  If they want to keep their jobs, they will need to hear us.

Reproductive Rights, Affordable Care, Public Schools, Equal Rights, and to Show My Kids What it Means to be an American

I marched:

For the right to take charge of my fertility.

In early 2004, I was pregnant. The pregnancy was unplanned, but welcome, although with an approaching overseas move, the timing was terrible. However, my husband and I were still thrilled. About two weeks later, I started to bleed so I visited my doctor.

An ultrasound proved that my uterus was empty, but I was still pregnant. My doctor took a wait and see approach and two days later I went back for another ultrasound and blood test. Still, my uterus was empty and my doctor determined I needed a D&C. It was scheduled for two days later.

While on the way home from the doctor, in a snowstorm that was shutting down Omaha, I got a phone call. She wanted me to turn around that instant and come back to her office because she feared an ectopic pregnancy. My HCG levels were high enough for an 8 week pregnancy and I was in danger of a burst fallopian tube if something weren’t done that day. By the time my husband and I got back to her office, most of the staff had left because of the storm, however my doctor and her nurse stayed for me. I was given a shot of methotrexate, which was a chemotherapy drug, to end the pregnancy. I cried as the drug entered my hip, not because it hurt (it did), but because it was the end of a very loved pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies do not result in a live birth. If left untreated, they continue to grow inside the fallopian tube, until the tube finally ruptures, causing internal bleeding. This is dangerous for the woman and can lead to death if undetected. The burst fallopian tube will never work again, leading to a loss of fertility even if the woman’s life is saved.

A few weeks later, my husband and I boarded a plane to the UK. While trying to receive care at the military hospital a few days after I arrived, the first thing the doctor said to me was, “Why didn’t you want to be pregnant anymore?  How come you had an abortion?”  I was horrified that someone would think I wanted this. This was to save my life, if there had been a way to save the pregnancy, I would have done it. To ensure my health, I had to receive a pregnancy blood test every week.  Every week, the lab techs excitedly chattered about how they hoped my test was positive, while I burst into tears in their chair and told them my baby was dead.

It took me years to call this what the military doctor called it – an abortion. I ended a non-viable pregnancy to save my life and my fertility. I’m thankful every day that my Omaha doctor had the wisdom and the knowledge to take care of me. Without her care, my two children wouldn’t be born and my husband would have been a 25 year old widower. For this reason, I strongly believe in the choice and I will always be pro-choice. That is one reason I marched.

To save the ACA and continue the pre-existing condition protection.

The Affordable Care Act is a lifesaver for Americans with chronic conditions. My 8 year old has ADHD. At 8, she is now saddled with a “pre-existing condition” and without the ACA protections, she could be turned down for health insurance for the rest of her life.  Again, she is 8. ADHD is not a life-threatening condition, but after 6 years of comments from teachers about her inability to focus and learn, we put her on medication to help her focus. It was an agonizing decision as parents, but we determined we needed to try something to help our little girl. She was falling further and further behind in school and was struggling with math and reading.

She started Adderall XR on Halloween. We didn’t say anything to her teacher and waited to see if she noticed anything.  After a week, we spoke on the phone with the teacher and her first question was “what is different?” Claire was able to complete a math assessment without help and was finishing all her work during the day. We no longer spend 90 minutes at home working on assignments that she didn’t finish in class. We just received her 2nd quarter report card and she is now at grade level on all subjects and received positive marks in Staying on Task and Completes Work on Time – something that has never happened before.

Although she may find better ways to cope with her ADHD as she gets older, she will always carry this diagnosis. She deserves access to healthcare and this is why I marched.

To save the ACA and save the lifetime cap protection.

I have a friend with a chronic condition. It’s expensive and she needs quarterly prescription injections, blood work and X-rays and daily medications. Her medications cost $3000 a month and she will be on them for the rest of her life. Her medical care costs nearly $50,000 a year, barring any health changes. At this rate, she will quickly reach the old $2M threshold, leaving her ineligible for insurance as she nears the end of her life. I marched for her because her health prohibited her from marching herself.

Because Black Lives Matter

Because our kids deserve a Secretary of Education who cares about public schools

Because we’re better than a ban on Muslims

Because I want to show my kids what it means to be an American

Equal rights and protections for all people

I marched for my two sons (and I marched alongside my older son), so they know the strength of collective action and understand the importance of equal rights and protections for all people.  I marched for my mother, whose reproductive health has been supported by Planned Parenthood and other organizations over several decades, and who taught me to stand up for what I believe.  I marched for my sister, who serves in the armed services and faces sexism and harassment by men who are supposed to be her comrades.  I marched for my students, to protest sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, and to support their ongoing right to an open, equal, and scientifically-based education.  I marched to show my support for family planning funding; for immigrants’ rights and protections; for full equality for LGBTQ individuals; for people of color who still face both subtle and overt forms of discrimination in many areas of their lives; for women who face discrimination in education, employment, reproductive health, breastfeeding, childrearing (or choosing not to have children at all), and even while walking down the street as they are subjected–as I myself have been–to harassment and fear of assault.  I marched to support the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, to provide necessary health coverage for all individuals regardless of preexisting conditions, income, age, and other characteristics.  I marched for reasonable gun control to keep our schools and public spaces safe, and because no child should be afraid to go to school or be distracted by the presence of guns in their schools.  I marched because I love the State of Nebraska, I love my community, and I love my country.  I marched because I believe in the promises made throughout our history of freedom, equality, justice, and protection from persecution and harm, and I believe our future can be more civil, more equal, more welcoming, more supportive, and more forward-looking than our present.  I believe in the Nebraska state motto: “Equality before the law.”  Let’s get to work achieving that equality.

Because I love our country

I marched because I love our country, and I value truth and freedom. Not even a week into his term, our new President has lied repeatedly; denied the press access to him and his administration; has silenced entities and organizations that disagree with him; is frighteningly unable to discern between the trivial and the important when attacking those who disagree with him (and he personally attacks citizens of the United States who disagree with him); and is destroying advances we’ve made in women’s/immigrants’/minorities’ rights, religious freedom, science education, affordable health care, environmental issues, and equality issues facing minorities. I value what rights we have in this country, and I’d like to preserve and expand them–not contract them. Women’s rights need to continue to grow and expand, and I believe the current President will not only fail to advance women’s issues (access to affordable health care and services, equal pay for equal work, affordable/reliable child care, educate legislative bodies/judges/attorneys about the rape culture in our society that gives the perpetrator every advantage, and many others), he’ll turn back the clock on the painstaking progress we’ve made.

“America is not Donald Trump and the lock step Republican Party.”

I march because our democratic republic, with its three branches of government, is intended to function as a check and balance on each institution.  I recognize those checks and balances no longer function as they are intended when the politics of party override the good of the nation.  I fear a Congress that walks in lock step with a president who ignores the Constitution.  Rules appear to only apply if it benefits a party preference.  Case in point, the rejection of Marrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  In a year’s time, he could not even get a hearing.

I march because Congress is ramming through grossly unqualified candidates for cabinet positions.  Just to name a few; Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education and Rick Perry, with a degree in animal husbandry to head the Department of Energy.  Goldman Sachs, I believe, has 6 representatives in the Trump regime.  How is this draining the swamp?  The hypocrisy is overwhelming.  We are hurling towards a dictatorship.

I march because I have three relatives that have health insurance because of the ACA.  One is disabled.  Another is taking care of a wife with Alzheimer’s  24/7 and is in poor health himself.  You are taking their health care away from them without an alternative plan in place.  I am on Social Security and Medicare and you want to mess with that. If you think the protest marches are large now, just wait till the gray hairs join in.  Retiring from an elementary school in a disadvantaged neighborhood,  I know charter schools are not the answer.  They will be left behind.

I march for an investigation into the failed Yemen raid.  Will it be as vigorously investigated as Benghazi?  Was Trump really eating his dinner when he authorized the raid and not in the Situation Room? An unconstitutional ban on immigration from 7 Muslim countries does not keep us safe. It is an optic of weakness and fear and has made this nation a continued target of hatred.  Trump will continue to isolate himself as he did not go to Harley Davidson because he was afraid of protest.  Protests will continue and he will isolate himself in his bedroom tweeting at 3 in the morning because he is a coward.  My dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War 11.  My husband was a Marine in Viet Nam and suffered from PTSD all his life.  In large part, a reason for the failure of our marriage.

I march, I call, I e-mail.  Most of my representatives mailboxes are full.  I hope they are full because of protest but sometimes I feel they are full because our representatives simply don’t want to talk to us.  We, the people, are speaking through our marches and will be speaking in the next election.  Our numbers are large and growing.  The marches only energize us, we see the millions that share our values but the most important reason I march is to say to the world, “America is not Donald Trump and the lock step Republican Party.”