Here’s my evidence that the Resistance – yes, I’ll capitalize that – isn’t some isolated response to one single outrage coming out of the Trump White House, or some phenomenon restricted to big cities, big airports or college towns.
Last night in Flemington, hundreds of people participated in an Emergency Rally opposing Trump’s #MuslimBan. This is in a town of 4,500 people, in Hunterdon which hasn’t elected a Democrat to county office in decades, and Republicans outnumber Dems 2-1. But my neighbors have really impressed me. Nine days ago, when we launched Progressive Hunterdon Democrats, we planned for 50 and nearly 200 showed up. Last night – our first public event – we planned for 100 and an estimated 400 came. Whole families. Seniors. Singles. High school and college students. Our permit kept us on the Main Street sidewalk outside the Historic Courthouse, but there were so many people the street had to be closed. (Thank you, Flemington police, for keeping a big crowd safe)
Last night was as American as it could be. We started with school children who came out of the crowd to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, veterans were recognized and cheered. And then, a day after his birthday, Langston Hughes’ poem of great trouble was read; Let America Be America Again. The senior class president of Hunterdon Central HS talked about young people’s intent to maintain the welcoming country they grew up knowing. A member of the Hunterdon Anti-Racism Coalition engaged the crowd in a call-and-response. A cheer went up when a young lawyer representing ACLU-NJ told them it was the national ACLU who got the emergency stay halting President Trump’s executive order. When the director of the county Islamic Center spoke, he remembered what Ronald Reagan said about America as a shining “city on a hill” and though Reagan was a Republican and a conservative like this president, Reagan’s portrait of the country was more inspiring to him than Trump’s. There was solidarity and participation from several who couldn’t attend; we read statements from congress members Bonnie Watson Coleman and Leonard Lance, and the rabbi from the local Reform synagogue. Teacher Marie Corfield talked about how educators are role models for their students, and what does it say when the president of the United States, leader of the free world, is not only not behaving as a role model but is enacting policy that discriminates against people on the basis or their religion? The last guest to speak was physicist and LD-16 Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker who got there late and had to park blocks away, following the cheers of the peaceful but noisy crowd. In the days before last night’s rally, there were some hostile comments on social media, threatening people who might participate. I’m glad to say when the time came, there was none of that. There were only minor incidents; no real trouble.
Near the end, somebody in the crowd called out This land is your land. And that’s the way the night ended, with hundreds of people singing Woody Guthrie. That video is below, thanks to Marie – and the full playlist of speakers is here on video. Photo above is from David Bacon.
Here is my takeaway: Do not underestimate Hunterdon County, or the idea that progressive people of good will who will stand up for what’s right are everywhere, including counties where Trump won overwhelmingly.