The Women’s March on Washington is going to be big. Officials say 1,800 buses have been registered to park in the city today. The subway will open at 5 a.m. (it usually starts running at 7 a.m. at weekends) to accommodate the numbers. In all, 250,000 people are expected to join the rally to show their disapproval of Donald Trump, dwarfing the numbers that attended his inauguration and parade a day earlier.
It is fitting that women are taking the lead. Trump’s misogynist language and disregard for half the population has been one of the most shocking parts of his aggressive campaign.
So it is a shame that the march organisers have chosen not to make it more inclusive, putting together a policy platform that excludes pro-life groups and other women who may define themselves as conservatives. Only the right kind women are invited to march it seems.
Of course, the organisers don’t see it like that. ‘The Women’s March on Washington is a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination,’ is how they put it.
Great. But the values and principles, listed on their website are a collection of progressive policies. From the right to organise at work and an Equal Rights amendment to the American constitution, the march organisers seem either to have a very clear view of the type of women they want on the march or a very clear view of what they think women should believe.
And then there is the thorny issue of reproductive rights. Among the marchers’ demand is ‘open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education’. We can debate the rights and wrongs of all those policies for ever. But the fact is that 41 per cent of American women believe abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, according to a 2016 survey survey by the Pew Research Centre. The result is that many conservatives are reluctant to join the march.
Jennifer Perotti, who campaigned against Donald Trump after co-founding Republican Women for Hillary and is now running Republican Women for America, says the progressive platform has been a problem.
‘We have a lot of women who are marching,’ she said. ‘But we have a lot of women that are not marching because a lot of conservative women don’t feel welcome at the march because of this very progressive platform.’
When it emerged that anti-abortion groups were listed on the march websites, the organisers were forced to issue a rapid apology and remove the names. The result is that an important constituency – one that knows the Republican Party from the inside – is not invited to take part.
Imagine the outrage if I – a man – had proposed that women were unified in their beliefs. Imagine if I had suggested that gender or sex were the factor that determined belief and politics. Yet somehow the American Left believes that identity politics can help them find salvation, apparently oblivious to the fact that it was one of the factors that caused Hillary Clinton’s defeat as well as inspiring Mr Trump to craft his own white, populist message.
Whatever happens, the march will provide a powerful image of resistance to Trump and his agenda.
Imagine how much powerful it would be if the anti-Trump coalition included a full contingent of anti-abortion, conservative women – drawn from the ranks of those who might be expected to support him – alongside the usual suspects.