I am starting to believe that investing heavily in foam core and Sharpie Magnums is not an unwise long-term investment strategy.
After a school meeting, necessary workout so as to combat near-freaking out, several must-happen errands, and carpool runs, I had just enough time to make a double-sided flip sign before heading off to the two protests I wanted to attend tonight.
The first was to protest the most ignorant Secretary of Education nominee ever: the Kingdom of Heaven billionaire with zero real experience in education other than defunding public schools for no good reason, Betsy DeVos.
Lamar Alexander, the mealy-mouthed "head" of DeVos' confirmation hearing was, this afternoon, addressing the National School Boards Association annual meeting here in DC. I cannot imagine that the other speaker, the illustrious Doris Kearns Goodwin, felt awesome about Lamar following her, but perhaps she didn't much care.
If the support we received from NSBA attendees was any indication, DeVos has zero support from within their ranks and maybe Lamar should have done some good listening. But I doubt it. Not even kidding, they were pouring out of the Marriott to come and high-five us, take selfies, dance with our cheers, and even lead our cheers. The Michigan delegation loudly told us that for their public education system, "DeVos has been a nuclear bomb. A NUCLEAR BOMB."
This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched any bit of DeVos' confirmation hearing and/or who actually knows anything about American public education. It should make all congressional votes run for the Hills of No, but we heard tonight via a woman who'd met with Senator Kaine that he expected a straight party-line vote. Great. Said no one.
After that protest wrapped, I inverted my sign and asked two young spitfires if I could tag along with them to the Supreme Court as we all planned to attend the Senate Democrats press conference and vigil against Trump's heinous #MuslimBan. There I planned to try and meet up with my friend, Mina. And there I happened to run into my cousin via marriage, Sonia. So cool!
Mina and I did meet up, and we were both very pleased by the size of the crowd. Mina said it compared to that protesting at the White House yesterday. Good! Because this ridiculous ban on Muslims from only some countries is OFFENSIVE beyond belief.
Tonight, Senators Bernie, Elizabeth, Nancy, Al, and Tim all addressed us from the Court's grand steps. And Senator Leahy walked right past me and said "Thank you for being here." He's much taller in real life than I expected, more robust too, but still with those kind, smart eyes and recognizable face.
All of chanted and cheered. Everyone was so kind and just brimming with solidarity. I was wearing that flag because some guy walking towards the SC with us kept dropping a giant box, and the two young spitfires and I asked if he needed help with it, and he said "No, but do you know what this box is full of?"
"No," we said, "What?"
"American flags," he said. "They keep trying to say they are America, that they're going to make America great. But WE are America, and we are what makes it great, and we need to wear these flags proudly and show what the truth of America is."
And he was right. I have become viscerally opposed to flag pins in recent years. They make me want to gag because too often they're worn, with fake and sycophantic reason, by people who use what the flag truly represents to mask all that they don't. They've taken a real symbol of patriotism and bastardized it.
But this guy helped me think differently. About reclaiming our stars and stripes. I am thankful for that and to him and his generosity. So hey, if you're going to a protest, please, honor this real patriot and buy an extra flag and give it out to someone just because.
It was another special night of coming together, one I needed desperately because earlier today I felt more worried than I have yet.
Tonight, as strangers, friends, senators, and even some children sang "This land is my land, this land is your land" together, I took a snapshot and plugged it away inside my mental reservoir. This is what is at stake, and this is what we're fighting for.