A day after Donald Trump was sworn in as president hundreds of thousands of women converged on the nation's capitol as part of a demonstration aimed at greeting the incoming White House administration with a simple message: Hear our voice. In response to the hateful, xenophobic, and sexist rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election, the Women's March on Washington is a powerful symbol of participants' willingness to challenge any attempt by Trump's administration to roll back the rights of women or other marginalized groups. Despite the high turnout, it's what happens after Saturday's Women's March on Washington that truly matters. Which is why, the next Women's March should be a march to the ballot box in 2018.
Although it began as a simple idea shared on Facebook in the hours after Trump's election victory, a team of grassroots activists have turned the Women's March on Washington into one of the largest demonstrations planned around Trump's inauguration. With more than 650 sister marches organized in cities across the globe – organizers estimate 3 million people will participate worldwide – the Women's March on Washington is more than a protest, it's a global movement. However, the true test of the march's success won't be found in its turnout. In fact, it will likely take months, if not years to determine whether or not the Women's March on Washington was a success.
While the large crowds turning up at Women's Marches around the world are certainly something to celebrate, the true test of the Women's March on Washington's success will be whether or not the energy it drums up is channeled into prolonged actions aimed at bringing forth real change.
One of the easiest way to turn the passion of the Women's March on Washington into concrete change is to turn up at the ballot box in 2018. Although the 2016 presidential election may have left left more than a few people feeling distressed and distraught, there are 468 reasons to turnout for the 2018 midterm elections.
While voters will have to wait another four years for the chance to vote in a new commander in chief, the 2018 midterm elections offer the perfect opportunity to shake up Congress. A total of 33 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs in the next election, meaning every eligible voter in every Congressional district can make their voice heard through their vote.
Although voter turnout in America is never as high as it should be – just over 58 percent of eligible voters actually cast ballots in the 2016 election –midterm elections often have a significantly lower turnout. But given the hefty role Congress plays in the nation's government, midterm elections are no less important than presidential ones.
It's well known that showing up is half the battle, and the Women's March on Washington is no exception. Saturday's march cannot be the end. Rather consider it a kick off party to four years of tireless work. Whether it's organizing protests against national legislation aimed at banning abortions, fundraising for advocacy and activists groups, calling your Congressional representatives, or showing at the ballot box, the Women's March on Washington will be a success if it serves as the catalyst for mobilizing thousands of people into political activism. The protection of women's and civil right depends not just on showing up at demonstrations but at showing up at the ballot box even when the presidency isn't on the line.