The power of change: President Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March

Laura Emily Dunn gives her on the ground account of recent events in Washington DC.

Washington DC is America’s power base. From Congress to the White House, the Supreme Court to K Street, influence and the authoritative voice dominates.

The transition of power from one American President to another is a special moment to witness, and I was fortunate to be in Washington for the inauguration this past weekend. We are not used to this level of pageantry for politicians in the UK, with pomp reserved purely for state occasions.

Travelling into Washington on the Metro, the trains were sparsely occupied, with only a few Trump supporters making their way to the National Mall. The mood seemed to match the predictions that turnout would be low. Vendors lined the streets to sell Trump hats, pin badges, flags and tee shirts, as well as an array of anti Hillary merchandise.

Reaching the security checkpoint, it was clear that many Trump supporters had made their way into town in the early hours. Lines of people filled entire blocks, and with protestors blocking checkpoints, security struggled to check everyone before the ceremony began.

Trump fans had travelled from coast to coast to see their new leader take the oath of office. Their shouts of ‘USA, USA’ battled with anti-Trump messages, and as tempers flared, both sides openly argued with each other. The dialogue was sexist, racist and misogynistic. Small pockets of the crowd were professional protestors, taking to the streets to graffiti buildings and burn cars in the name of anger. Whilst it wasn’t clear what they were protesting against, it is clear that there is a feeling of discontent and an uncertainty as to what will happen next in America.

The mood in Washington was not one of jubilation, with even the inaugural parade doing little to lift patriotic spirits. President Trump’s promise of transferring power to the people was fiercely on show the next day, with thousands of women taking to Washington’s streets to fight for equality.

In sharp contrast to the day before, the Metro was packed with women from across America. The never-ending flow of people with pink hats streamed towards the National Mall, the signs bolder and better than the last. Every space was filled, and a group of us waited for two hours before we could move. Event organizers were unable to stick to the original march route because there were so many attendees, and around 2pm, the crowd began their journey towards the White House.

500,000 people were part of the Women’s March on Washington, more than the Civil Rights March of 1963 and those against the Iraq War in 2003. It was history in the making, and the strongest call to arms that women and civil liberties won’t be ignored.

Joy and disappointment are a part of all political transformation. People on both sides feel empowered by Trump’s victory, but for very different reasons. This was never more evident in the space of 24 hours, where the best and the worst of patriotism was on show.

Much like Brexit, Trump’s election has created immense change. It’s up to us all to play a part in the next chapter.  

Laura Dunn is a digital marketing and social media practitioner, working with clients in the UK and the USA. Laura has worked in the National Assembly for Wales, UK Parliament and the US House of Representatives. She is Founder of the Political Style blog and a contributor to The Huffington Post.

2 thoughts on “The power of change: President Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March

  1. You can read any amount about Trump in the UK press and the BBC will inundate you with news and views about him. But who knows what is happening in Cardiff Bay? Neither the BBC nor the press will give it more than a second or two. Well, for the world as a whole Trump is somewhat more significant than Carwyn Jones. But if you are talking about the health service in Wales or education in Wales the opposite is true. The people of Wales are better qualified to vote for the US president than they are to vote for the Welsh first minister. They know more about Trump than they do about Carwyn. You doubt it? Just read the posts on this site. They are often full of spleen about the National Assembly but they also reveal a complete ignorance of what it has done or not done. And these are the people apparently taking an interest in the IWA and public affairs in Wales. The rest of the electorate can be trusted to know even less. I don’t know the answer but I do know that we would be better off electing a government by rolling dice. The dice know as much as the Welsh electorate and at least we would get an occasional change that way instead of the same lot in power all the time.

  2. Mr Tredwyn raises a valid point – and this from someone who has written a lot about Mr Trump – but it has to be said that people in Wales are still talking about the US elections and the EU Referendum far more than about the Wales Bill or the high drama in Cardiff Bay.

    Indeed there seems to be no general discussion of the Wales Bill at all outside the two ‘bubbles’ – no excitement and no organised opposition. Most people seem wholly unaware of what is happening. In a supposed democracy that is both frightening and depressing.

    That said, it is probably a good thing for the Assembly that most remain ignorant of what it has done and not done.

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