The first step is admitting you have a problem, so here goes: Since the election, The Observer has been in a bit of a funk. If you watch this space, you have no doubt noticed it. We have wrassled mightily with a thorniest of dilemmas: what to do when the job is to speak, but the stupidity and short-sightedness of your countrymen has left you speechless.
The Observer, for our part, has gone it mostly alone, other than filling Spouse's ear with bitter rants at every new outrage. We have passed still hours of the night in the secret dread that a person with a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder (seriously, look up the symptoms) has ultimate command of the United States' nuclear arsenal. We have felt the longing to be in the rush of places that seem to matter when things are decided, as opposed to Arkansas, which — notwithstanding impeachment, nuclear war or alien invasion at some point in the next four years — will break comfortably for Dorito Mussolini in 2020, no matter what horror slithers forth from the dirty dishwater of El Presidente's soul in the meanwhile.
The Observer is of the generation that has long been waiting for Our Moment, though, and we truly feel this is ours. When we heard there was going to be a march on the state Capitol to coincide with the Women's March in Washington, we cleared the calendar and rounded up the Love of This Life. Being a reporter, we've been to marches on the Capitol before: rallies for choice, for LGBT rights, for the West Memphis 3, for Occupy. Still, we didn't expect much on Saturday. A few hundred folks. Some pussy hats, even though the day was too warm and sunny for knitted anything. MAYBE a thousand people would show.
And so when Spouse and Yours Truly rounded the corner onto Capitol Avenue and saw the giant crowd marshaled at Pulaski Street, wholly filling three packed blocks and more, bristling with signs and righteousness there in the sun, Your Correspondent had to thumb back a tear. Walking up the hill to join them, suddenly we knew, maybe for the first time since the returns started coming in on election night, that it was going to be OK. That is not an Alternative Fact, sons and daughters. That's the damn truth.
The Observer, who has an aversion to crowds that borders on a phobia, was happy to be folded into the bosom of that one. And then we marched, like real, professional protestors. And then the Capitol: mounting the steps as one, spreading off the path and onto the grass, the crowd stretching from the bronze doors down the walk, spilling back out onto Capitol Avenue. Babies crying and people filling the air with cheering, boys and girls playing tag on the lawn at the outskirts, the ghosts of suffragettes and Freedom Riders, Tom Jefferson and Tom Joad, flitting hither and yon, all around and everywhere.
We heard a final estimate of 7,000 people in Little Rock, and we believe it. Believe this as well: While there likely weren't many supporters of Sen. Tom Cotton or Sen. John Boozman in that crowd, if you believe the sight of 7,000 pissed-off Arkies rallied Back Home didn't put a jitter into Two-Gun Tommy and John Who?, get the doctor to check your skull for soft spots. While the folks protesting Trump in Little Rock on Saturday may not be Republicans, most every one of them has dozens of family members all over the state who very well might be. Blood is always more persuasive than politics.
Thank you, Arkansas, for giving The Observer back a bit of our faith in the idea that real, world-changing things can happen here. Keep it up, and let's see about getting the gang together again at the Capitol real soon (like this Saturday, at the Rally for Reproductive Justice, 1 p.m.). We're all going to need those periodic fixes of give-a-damn in the years to come if we're going to turn this around. Onward.