President Donald J. Trump was elected on November 8, 2016 and sworn into office on January 20, 2017. January 21, 2017 was met with a nationwide sea of pink hats, raised signs, and uplifted voices. January 29, 2017 was marked by protests at airports, filing of orders, and detentions at TSA. April 29, 2017 was filled with sweltering heat, polar bear costumes, and calls to action. In-between, each day was illustrated by constant small acts of protest: instagram posts, art displays, and raised voices. There were multiple threads which united these movements but a key one was that they all took place in the first 100 days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. As we near what could be the last 100 days of his presidency, we want to look back on those first days and see what legacy was left by the movements that defined them.
The Women’s March has become iconic in recent US history. Everybody I knew participated in it and posted about it. Including organizers from all 50 states and groups ranging from the ACLU to the Muslim Women’s Alliance, EMILY’s List to Planned Parenthood, the Women’s March of 2017 was diversely organized and far reaching. Approximately 4 million people marched within the continental United States (arguably making it one of the largest movements in US history) and another 300,000 marched internationally.
Though the memory of the women’s march will likely stay in people’s mind for years to come, the direct impacts of this march are murkier. Obviously, there have been marches each year since the original in 2017, but these marches have received less press coverage and less participation. Additionally, the march and its criticisms of Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” comments (cue pussy hats) helped to fuel the fire for the #MeToo movement that arose following allegations against Harvey Weinstein. The original march and the #MeToo movement were criticized for focusing on cisgendered white women (criticisms that have continued into the current day), but these criticisms have forced march organizers to diversify their movement. In 2018, organizers moved to create the #PowerToThePolls movement. Their kickoff even included Alicia Garza, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and hoped to empower female and marginalized voters in the 2018 election season.
According to Simon Gihooley, a professor of political studies at Bard College, the movement had a major impact on female representation in elections.
“I think that, in some ways, the legacy of that movement is maybe not what the organizers intended–Trump didn’t change his design, we didn’t see more accountability from the institutions, but what we saw was a flashpoint of public unhappiness, public anger, that then interestingly fit into electoral channels and became institutionalized, in a way, in the number of women holding public office”
And truly, we have seen a major flooding of local and national elections with women. In 2017, for example, a record number of women from intersectional identities were elected to the Virginia House of Representatives. The increase in trans women, women of color, and women generally in political positions has arguably been the result of the mass mobilization of women across the nation, something that was triggered and illustrated by the original women’s march.
Trump’s infamous travel ban was signed into effect on January 27, 2017. Outlawing immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Lebanon. The ban was met with massive uproar across media platforms using the #MuslimBan and large scale protests at airports across the nation. These protests often lasted overnight, and were heightened when travellers from the seven banned countries were detained at airports upon their arrival. Directly after the ban was put into place, Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Seattle halted implementation of the order, arguing that it violated the US constitution and contravenes the Immigration and Nationality Act. Other states quickly followed in Washington’s footsteps, leading to several revisions of the ban, but their efforts were eventually stymied when Trump’s executive order was ordered constitutional by the Supreme Court later in 2017.
The protests surrounding the travel ban have reduced as the years have progressed, and Trump’s immigration policies have increased, indicating that no large scale policy change has occurred. However, we have seen a rise in sanctuary cities following the enforcement of the travel ban and other immigration policies that target non-white immigrants. “Sanctuary city” is a blanket term which refers to cities that have both formal and informal policies in place that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. This often means that sanctuary cities, countries, or states will not give information or aid to ICE agents operating within their bounds. Though changes in policy may take time to change, the support of immigrants displayed by the airport protests have paved the way for larger scale legal support from many places.
Coinciding with Trump’s 100th day in office, the People’s Climate March took place on a sweltering April day, illustrating in many marchers’ minds the need for urgent climate action. Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets, protesting the Environmental Protection Agency’s roll back of regulations on fossil fuels and budget cuts. The demonstrators protested not only Trump’s treatment of the EPA, but also the general state of the environment nationally and globally. In the days and years following the protest, Trump continued to degrade environmental policy, and withdrew from the Paris Agreement on June 1, 2017, barely a month past the march.
Despite the lack of meaningful national policy change in response to the march, many states have been responsive to the march’s call to action. Twenty-five governors (including the governor of Puerto Rico) have pledged to support the Paris Agreement, forming what is now called the US Climate Alliance. Additionally, the People’s Climate group is still highly active, organizing more marches (https://peoplesclimate.org/) other forms of social activism.
Though the fire behind the original movements in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency has reduced over the years, the impact of the movements is still being felt in meaningful ways. Local politics has taken on the bulk of this action, though smaller social groups have continued the work as well. In the days leading up to the upcoming presidential election, the hope is that some of the power that united the American people can be recovered. The division that exists amongst the democratic people must end if we are going to beat Trump, and perhaps looking back on the unity we felt in those first 100 days can be recovered in what will hopefully be the last.