Hello Los Angeles! What a beautiful day…what a great country we already live in!
I’m going to start by quoting H. L. Mencken, the journalist, satirist and social critic, who said in 1920: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
I’m not sure the minority who voted for Trump are prepared for what is coming next.
But it’s fantastic that so many of you have turned out to speak truth to power.
Truth is the essence of living in a democracy. And yet this newly elected president seems to care very little about it. That worries me.
But I’ll tell you what worries me the most…that’s children. I’m afraid of what they are seeing and hearing these days…
It’s ok to lie?
It’s ok to brag about sexual assault as just “locker room talk?”
To never apologize and always retaliate?
To try to silence people and the press when they don’t agree with you?
To lack kindness and humility?
That’s what frightens me most about this president…that children will listen…and learn…and emulate his behaviour.
What also worries me is that he said his inauguration was going to be “a great show.” Those words are very revealing. I guess that’s the world he comes from…reality TV. Does he think of the presidency as another show? He tweets about ratings. He basks in the applause. There’s no coherent discussion of policy.
This man who would be king doesn’t seem to understand the seriousness of the job he is about to undertake. The Obama administration left 275 briefing papers…it would be nice if he read some of them. He doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know…and that should make everybody feel very unsafe.
Sometimes, I have to admit, I do feel bad for him…what must it be like to feel so wounded at the slightest criticism…to be so insecure that he has to lash out immediately with crass and cruel personal attacks. He must feel terrible that coming into office he has the lowest approval ratings of any president in history. But he doesn’t seem to examine that, or change his behavior. He just gets more defensive.
What’s important to this president, as I heard him say on TV early on, is winning. It’s about beating the other guy or gal.
I thought maybe he would rise to the occasion in his inaugural address. But it was just another version of his divisive, apocalyptic campaign speech. It was shockingly small and uninspiring. There was no grace or generosity.
And then there are Trump’s appointees from the far right of the Republican Party, who can’t wait to reverse the progress of the last 8 years. The Republicans are eager to take away health insurance from 20 million people. Trump will appoint a conservative Supreme Court justice who will be a threat to all our rights…women’s rights…voting rights. And just look at the White House website today. They have already taken down the civil rights page, the LGBT page, and the climate change page. And they are determined to defund Planned Parenthood, which supplies health care to the women who need it most.
That’s why we’re here today.
Gender inequity has always been an unspoken and tacitly accepted practice in our society. We have, as a culture, normalized violence against women…we have normalized the wage gap…we have accepted men legislating what we can and cannot do with our bodies, even in cases of rape and incest…we have enabled a culture of sexual harassment of women for years. Even when it comes to the treatment of women in medical research, we are not valued as equal.
Donald Trump, a man who has a legacy of disrespecting women, now holds the most powerful seat in the world. His election reflects openly what has been hidden in the shadows for some time—that in many ways women are still second-class citizens in the 21st century.
But this also presents a real opportunity for social change. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise up again.
People of all races, sexual identities, and religions are out in the streets today across the country. It’s thrilling to see so many people who care so deeply, and are making their voices heard. We are saying that we will not sit by as our rights are stripped away. We will not hide as the freedoms of others are destroyed.
By coming out today, we can engage in a deep, honest dialogue about how to reach real equality…and change the playing field, from the classroom to the boardroom and, God willing, in the not so distant future—the Oval Office! But because of the antiquated Electoral College, we don’t yet have a woman president…with another perspective…expansive, experienced, and most of all, extremely intelligent.
You know, before you can drive a car, you have to pass a test. Maybe you should have to pass a test to become President of the United States…a test in civics, American history, domestic and foreign policy…perhaps have a psychological evaluation!
All I really know is we must continue to speak out. When you refuse to back down, when you refuse to be silenced, when you demand equality for yourself and your fellow men and women…you will be heard in the end. We can’t give up.
Today is the beginning of a new movement to hold power accountable to the truth.