Political expert weighs in on effectiveness of Women’s March movement

Political expert weighs in on effectiveness of Women’s March movement

When Teresa Goplin decided to make the drive from Richland Center to Saturday’s Women’s March protest in downtown Madison, she brought along her reason for doing so — her 7-year-old daughter, Jocelyn.

“(The march) felt like a big hug,” Goplin said Monday. “I had tears just running down my cheeks, just thinking, how wonderful for her to see hundreds of thousands of men and women and kids and older people all joining together.”

The march came in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and in opposition to his views and statements on women’s rights issues. Millions marched in cities nationwide, and betweenn 75,000 and 100,000 people came to the Women’s March on Madison on Saturday afternoon.

Goplin said she hopes the event will leave a lasting impact on Jocelyn, even though being so young, she may not completely understand all of it at the moment.

“I told her when we were done: ‘That’s the most important thing you’ve ever done in your life.'” Goplin said. “I hope she realizes as she goes forward that people don’t have the right to touch her. They don’t have the right to say things about her. They don’t have the right to make her feel uncomfortable.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor David Canon said the question for the Women’s March movement is whether it will have a lasting impact on policy following Saturday’s marches.

“To answer that question entirely depends on what happens after Saturday,” Canon said.

Canon said the protests succeeded in getting the attention of the Trump administration, but marchers have to put their words into action.

“If it was just that march and those various protests on Saturday, then I think it won’t have that big of an impact,” Canon said. “It really needs to have some staying power beyond Saturday.”

Canon said movement leaders may be looking to emulate its political opposite, the successful conservative Tea Party movement.

“The people who were behind the Women’s March are talking about trying to emulate the tactics of the Tea Party and the success that they had, especially in 2010 in the midterm elections,” Canon said. “Really pushing the Republican Party in a new direction and eventually shaping the nature of the national debate. That’s the kind of effect they want to have.”

Canon said to bring political change, marchers will have to increase their political involvement on a local, state and national stage.

“Going to local hearings, going to local city council meetings, organizing their local party organizations, running for office themselves, like the Tea Party did,” Canon said. “That’s the kind of sustained intensive effort it will take to have this movement take off and be something bigger and more meaningful in the future.”

Goplin said she plans to involve Jocelyn and herself in the process even more and march more if another opportunity comes up.

“We will certainly be there,” she said.