Women's March on Philadelphia
The Women's March on Philadelphia, Jan. 21.

What Democracy Looks Like

A wave of cheers swept through the crowd. Gloved hands raised cardboard signs, some meticulously painted, others sloppily scrawled on with marker.

“Show me what democracy looks like!” a faraway voice drifted over the mass.

“THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!”

I found myself shouting with the rest of the people gathered around me, carried by their infectious enthusiasm. We’d barely moved a quarter mile. The day was slate grey and soupy with fog. Most of the people gathered on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway had been on their feet for hours. Yet morale was still high.

This was my opportunity, as a college student with no professional influence or money to donate, to show that I wouldn’t simply lie down and accept the path our political body is on.

The Women’s March on Philadelphia, on Jan. 21, wasn’t my first march—but none of the others even came close in size. Almost 50,000 protesters crowded the streets that afternoon. Many were Arcadia students and faculty. Members of Arcadia’s For the Women club also attended.  

We were there for different reasons: climate change, women’s rights, immigration policies. And a good number of us were united under one common belief: Donald Trump is not our president.

When I first heard this statement, I was taken aback. Donald Trump is the president of the United States. But, as a citizen first of the world, not this individual country, I have the right not to identify him as my leader. I don’t have to align with his policies or the path he wishes to put our country on. I can choose not to accept the results of the electoral college and instead unite with my fellow countrymen as an unsatisfied citizen of a polarized nation. I have the right to dissent; to declare that this man is not a man I will ever consider my president. For me, that’s what this protest was about.

So when the crowd roared “No es mi presidente,” I raised my voice with the best of them. This was my opportunity, as a college student with no professional influence or money to donate, to show that I wouldn’t simply lie down and accept the path our political body is on.

No, I don’t believe all Donald Trump supporters are evil. And I recognize that no amount of protests will change the fact that he is, in fact, the President of the United States.

But I have a right to have my opinion heard. To join in a movement that hopes to change this country for the better, not send it backward in time. If that means spending my weekend marching through the cold Philadelphia streets, so be it. After all, that is what democracy looks like.