I spent most of my weekend following the marches online. It was heartening to witness the widespread outpouring of support. After the election, it was easy to feel as though one’s liberal ideals were an aberration; seeing so many people take to the streets to support them serves as a reminder that one is not alone in one’s beliefs, and that’s a valuable thing.
But I also watched the proceedings with a modicum of dread. If you live long enough, you eventually learn that politics and culture are driven by an endless cycle of backlash and retaliation. Given that the current administration squeaked into power based largely on one voting bloc’s dearly held revenge fantasies, and based on the fact that it’s led by a man whose chief priority is settling scores, it’s safe to say that retaliation is absolutely going to happen. What form that takes, I don’t know.
Ideally, the other side would focus on the massive size and global reach of the last weekend’s protests, leading to attempts to counter protest with similar numbers. This seems unlikely though. While some might peacefully take to the streets, they’ll never match the numbers and they know it. Besides, they’d need to rally around something for it to work — how many people would show up if the central message was, “We are against women’s rights”? You don’t need to march to support that cause. You can just support that by just living your normal life. Rally around the president? Again, not enough people like him for those numbers to be there. (Though there may be a big-ass march for the guy in Russia or something.)
No, it’s more likely the retaliation will happen online, and in tiny pockets of extreme violence, at least amongst the administrations non-official partisans.
But given the current make up of the government, you can expect the retaliation will be of a more legislative or enforcement kind. It may not be swift — but injured demagogues have long memories. Bad laws and spurious crackdowns don’t have to start immediately, but they can go on for-fucking-ever, once they’re ready to roll. And roll they will. And they will be big, because they know they are outnumbered.
It’s going to be very grim for awhile.