I know how to shame the new President, come inauguration day. I know the entity that is capable of pulling it off.
And no, it is not Beyoncé, Kanye, or Aretha Franklin. It is not Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin. It is not Anderson Cooper or John Oliver or Megyn Kelley or even Ted Nugent, who is as of this writing apparently the only entertainer who will consider sharing a stage with Drumpf.
It is the one entity that has been able to steal the show since moving pictures were invented. (I myself have an eternal crush on Shirley Temple).
Kids. I am talking about the kids of America.
Not only is the modest proposal offered forth in the blog that follows quite serious…I will go so far as to say that I am being as serious as I have ever been.
What we need, people, is a Million Kid March against Donald Trump.
And it needs to happen on Inauguration Day. January Twentieth. Get out the long underwear and the ear muffs and the kiddie trapper hats and the idiot mittens with the strings and clips; we are about to create the youngest generation of hippies in history. Winter hippies.
Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking, and you are right. At first, the logistics seemed impossible to me, too. My father was actually a logistical engineer in the Air Force, and quite a fine one, with a few textbooks and some ranks and clearance to his name, so I think about things in logistical terms quite a lot. When the crew here at Pickford Studios first batted the idea around, it seemed like a logistical nightmare. A million kids? On the mall? And of course, that would really mean more like two or three or four million people, since of course those kids would be accompanied by parents. Also seems like a pedophile’s wet dream, if all the proper security is not in place.
But dig it:
We don’t need a million kids on the mall. (We can build up to that, culminating in a Million Kid March on the actual Washington Mall, say, on July 4th, 2020. Or Election Day, 2020. Stay tuned.)
But no, why not just make it a Million Kid March in thousands of communities across this great nation? That way, it is easily arranged in tiny towns and hamlets across America, as easily as if folks were planning a bake sale or a pep rally. The total numbers will be easy to tally. Locals can do head counts, it will all be documented on the local evening news, and at the end of the day, we can see just how many kids turn out to turn their futures around.
The idea is this: kids in each town or city start at a logical Point A, like their school, and march to a logical Point B, like some meaningful monument or civic building nearby. And they bring with them posters. Placards. Recited evidence, and solid reasons that they are now and eternally against the presidency of Donald Trump. But more on that in Part Two of our blog.
Let’s go back to the idea of a Million Kid March.
And by the way, since I am my usual logorrheic self in this blog, let me cut to the basics, for those of you in a hurry. It would go something like this:
- Fire of the gist of this blog to everyone on your email tree, phone tree, Facebook group, etcetera.
- Coordinate with other interested parents at the school.
- Teach your children the reality of their country’s future, and of the planet’s environment, under a Trump presidency.
- Consider T-shirts; they create a unifying presence. Organizing kids is a bit like herding cats; kids are not known for presenting a unified front.
- March on January 20th.
There. Eazy Peasy, right? Admit it; your last fundraiser took more out of you.
And no, you don’t have to register, get permission, coordinate with other marches, fill out an application, follow a format, give me your email address, or pay a fee.
I remember distinctly the conversation that took place as the Pickford Studios crew was driving home from Orlando, Florida, from the site of the Pulse shooting. It was about six months ago. We were talking about Trump’s momentum in the presidential campaign, and sardonically concluded that, as angry as we were, the bitter truth was that it ultimately wouldn’t impact us all that much. We are all older people; our lives have largely been lived and our plans for the future are relatively intact. There isn’t much Trump can do to us. But there is a great deal that Trump can do to destroy the future of this country. And of the world.
We may not be able to do anything about the next four years. But it is never too early to start planning on victory in 2020. To plot the demise of the Donald.
The part about stealing Trump’s thunder a month from now is pretty delicious too, especially given that he is a Narcissistic Megalomaniac, if ever there was one. (Watch for my upcoming blog about Trump as Psychopath.) And trust me, kids are the secret.
Kids are the Secret Weapon, and the proof is in history. They can get the public’s attention and steal everybody’s thunder when nobody else can:
You think Rosa Parks was so great? Well, yes, she was. But she often overshadows the child who was her inspiration, a fifteen-year-old girl named Claudette Colvin who took the same heroic stand nine months earlier, when she refused to give up her seat to a white person. This child was brutalized by the local cops who, among other things, inexplicably kept calling her a “whore” as they kicked her, then dragged her to the local jail, fingerprinted her, and booked her, all the while jokingly trying to guess her bra size. But she won out in the end; it was her heroism that impelled Rosa and Martin Luther King and a group of other progressives to plan not only the Parks incident, but the crippling bus boycott, all of which changed American history and moved us that much closer to equality.
Claudette Colvin changed the course of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. And she was a mere child when she did so.
In November of 1982, when it seemed that the Cold War would never thaw, it took a letter from ten year old Samantha Smith, addressed to a man named Yuri Andropov to start melting the ice. Andropov had just succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the Soviet Union, while far away in the great state of Maine, Samantha Smith was worried about the shadow of nuclear war. So she did the logical, polite thing. She wrote a letter to the new Russian leader expressing her concerns. Here is the letter Samantha wrote to Yuri Andropov:
Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren't please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
Here is Andropov’s reply:
I received your letter, which is like many others that have reached me recently from your country and from other countries around the world.
It seems to me – I can tell by your letter – that you are a courageous and honest girl, resembling Becky, the friend of Tom Sawyer in the famous book of your compatriot Mark Twain. This book is well known and loved in our country by all boys and girls.
You write that you are anxious about whether there will be a nuclear war between our two countries. And you ask are we doing anything so that war will not break out.
Your question is the most important of those that every thinking man can pose. I will reply to you seriously and honestly.
Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are trying to do everything so that there will not be war on Earth. This is what every Soviet man wants. This is what the great founder of our state, Vladimir Lenin, taught us.
Soviet people well know what a terrible thing war is. Forty-two years ago, Nazi Germany, which strove for supremacy over the whole world, attacked our country, burned and destroyed many thousands of our towns and villages, killed millions of Soviet men, women and children.
In that war, which ended with our victory, we were in alliance with the United States: together we fought for the liberation of many people from the Nazi invaders. I hope that you know about this from your history lessons in school. And today we want very much to live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on this earth — with those far away and those nearby. And certainly with such a great country as the United States of America.
In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons — terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That's precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never — never — will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on Earth.
It seems to me that this is a sufficient answer to your second question: 'Why do you want to wage war against the whole world or at least the United States?' We want nothing of the kind. No one in our country–neither workers, peasants, writers nor doctors, neither grown-ups nor children, nor members of the government–want either a big or 'little' war.
We want peace — there is something that we are occupied with: growing wheat, building and inventing, writing books and flying into space. We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet. For our children and for you, Samantha.
I invite you, if your parents will let you, to come to our country, the best time being this summer. You will find out about our country, meet with your contemporaries, visit an international children's camp – Artek – on the sea. And see for yourself: in the Soviet Union, everyone is for peace and friendship among peoples.
Thank you for your letter. I wish you all the best in your young life.
Forgive me, but I find it hard to imagine Vladimir Putin penning such a letter. And ever sadder still, even as I write this (December 22nd, 2016), in a horrifically bizarre twist of timing and fate, Trump has just tweeted: “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.”
Oh My God. Our new president has just basically pledged that he will ratchet up the arms race. And poke a very large and terrifying sleeping bear.
But not even Trump can take away Samantha Smith’s legacy. For a brief and shining moment, Samantha Smith became an international celebrity for her peaceful overtures towards Russia, and she shamed the grown-ups into re-examining their prejudices.
The power of pleading children.
Millions of people purchase gorgeous carpets produced from exotic locales in the Middle East, but at what cost? Born in 1983, Iqbal Masih was just one example of enslaved armies of child laborers who even today live a hellish childhood, just so we can have something pretty under our feet. Born in 1983 in Punjab, Pakistan, he was sold into child labor by his parents, their way of paying back a loan worth six American dollars. At the tender age of four, Iqbal was forced to rise before dawn, walk down dark and treacherous country roads, and then work for twelve hours a day, seven days a week, while tightly bound by chains. He escaped, was tortured, escaped again, and at the age of twelve became an international spokesperson against child slavery.
The charisma of kids.
When the U.S.S. Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo at the end of World War II, and every survivor on that ship believed that their beloved Captain McVay was wrongly court martialed because the Navy desperately needed a scapegoat to save face in front of an outraged nation, those hundreds of survivors were not able to change the ruling of the court, and McVay’s reputation was ruined. Nor were the journalists and authors who took up the cause able to change the court’s mind. Nor were the politicians who campaigned to get the unjust court martial reversed. Nope, it wasn’t until an upstart director named Steven Spielberg made a terrifying movie called “Jaws” which was then seen by a twelve year old kid named Hunter Scott (like the hero from a novel, that name, yeah?) did the momentum start to swing the other way. Hunter Scott was mesmerized by the haunting scene in which Quint describes being a sailor on the doomed Indianapolis. When Hunter asked his father if it was all true, his father gave the stock good dad answer: “Look it up.” Later, thanks to a history project created by the passionate and intrepid ‘tween, history itself was finally rewritten. And Captain McVay was vindicated. Talk about the power of kids: just picture Hunter Scott testifying before the Congress of the United States. In 2000, Congress then passed a resolution that McVay's record should reflect that "he is exonerated for the loss of the USS Indianapolis." President Clinton also signed the resolution. In July 2001, Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England ordered McVay's official Navy record purged of all wrongdoing.
And we hardly even need to repeat the stories of how Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai served as voices for millions who could not get their message out to the world.
And just to repeat what I have iterated in previous blogs: I am not talking about Democrats versus Republicans, or even liberals versus conservatives. I believe in a strong military, and you cannot have lived seventeen years in California, nor have witnessed the madness in Europe, without believing in some sane, sound plan for curbed immigration. No, I am talking about those moments when Trump basically manifested sheer psychopathy: being cavalier about dropping nuclear weapons, and his willingness to pull out of the Paris Climate Treaty, and to gut the EPA, and to conduct a witch hunt for those who would fight the deadly consequences of climate change. It is quite one thing to think you know more than your neighbor, or some politician. It is quite another thing to think you know more than the majority of scientists on the planet.
Let’s face it. It is not the grown-ups who should be terrified of Trump. (Although if you are an adult Latino, Muslim, Jew, black, or female, you should certainly be mightily offended by him and his potty mouth.)
No, it is the children of America who should be truly terrified.
Factoid: there are about 75 million human beings in the United States who classify as “kids”, i.e., under eighteen.
That means that for the “Million Kid March” to work, only one out of every 75 kids would have to get off of their Fruit Roll Up butts on January 20th and march, carrying signs and powerful visuals, from their school to the nearest monument of meaning in their tiny town, to make a complete idiot of Trump, as he is being sworn in. To steal his thunder. That sounds doable, yes?
And given that those above mentioned 75 kids have approximately 30 parents (the average couple having roughly 2.5 kids), that means that only about one pair of every 30 parents need to get off their Snackwell asses to march with their kids for the future of the world. Again, I maintain that that sounds eminently “doable”. After all, there are a great many adults who are going to be very, very angry on January 20th. And some of them are even Republicans.
HOW TO ACTUALLY GET A MILLION KIDS.
I will grant you, getting a million kids for a Million Kid March may seem like a bit of a stretch for this first event—our spoiling of Trump’s inaugural—but it could be done. Let’s break down the math.
There are fifty states in the union; divide one million by fifty states and that means we would need 20,000 kids marching in each state. That seems alternately doable and impossible, depending on which state you picture. States like New York and California seem handily up to the task. Wyoming, Missouri, Arkansas … not so much. The more realistic way to picture the million kid march is to think of it akin to the House of Representatives. As any kid who took high school civics knows (and let’s face it, lots of us got a lesson in advanced civics when we realized that Hillary got the most votes, but Trump is the new president), we have a Senate and a House of Representatives, the Senate having two elected representatives per state, and the House of Representatives having numbers that vary per state, depending on the population of the particular state in question. A quick cruise to Wikipedia can not only explain the brilliant symmetry of this bicameral system, but will offer a table of the exact number of representatives. If the expectation of marching kids per state were roughly analogous to the representatives for each state, then the “responsibilities” and “expectations” of each state, in terms of providing kids marching against trump, becomes immediately clearer.
Listen up, this gets a wee bit thick:
There are 435 representatives total, in the House Of. Divide one million by 435, and you come up with 2298.85057471. We will, of course, round that off to 2300. So, just as more densely populated states have more representatives (California has 53 and New York has 27), and just as states with sparser populations have fewer reps (Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota each have just 1 representative), so we could expect that the states with much larger populations might be able to rally a greater march of kids (and their parents). Of course, it goes without saying that the redness or blueness of any given state would also impact a state’s performance. But let’s face it; there are a hell of a lot of frustrated Democrats inhabiting “red” states. And most of those Democrats have kids. This is the time for those feisty and frustrated spirits to express themselves.
So I am hoping that you get my numerical drift: States like Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, Delaware, and Alaska would only have to contribute 2300 marching kids each to help us achieve our goal. However, California, sprawling across the left coast, would be under more pressure: with 53 Representatives, they would have to produce 121,900 (2300 times 53) to produce their “share” of the Million Kid March. According to the California Department of Education, there are 6,235,520 kids going to school in that state, which mean, in order to produce their “share” in the Million Kid March, only one out of every 2711 kids (6,235,520 divided by 2300) would have to walk away from their X-Box and march down the street and get some goddam fresh air and do their part to save the future of the planet. Again, so very doable.
(Sidebar: with a whimsy I have come to expect from the crazy state of California, where I lived seventeen years of my life, I could not help but notice that on the official cde.gov site, where they list the actually number of schools in California [I instead counted kids], the official site lists the number of schools, mysteriously enough, at “10,3939”. California. Gotta love it.)
So there you get a general idea of the math, using the House of Representatives as a template, apportioning out the expectations of each state according to their populations. Frankly, I find it thrilling how realistic it sounds.
And what if we don’t get a million kids, marching against Trump on Inauguration Day? What if we don’t get half a million? What if, thanks to the fervent and planet-saving efforts of the legions of kids and grown-ups reading this, what if we only get thousands of kids marching from their schools to some cherished local monument, each of them capable of reciting, through a new understanding, the appalling facts and figures, the terrifying reality, of a world ruled by Trump? Everybody from the tiniest local news station to the biggest members of the Fourth Estate would no doubt find it irresistible. These are kids, pleading for mercy and reason, after all.
And over and over and over again, from his morning session in the tanning bed through his dopey inaugural balls with his supermodel wife (or I guess Ivanka, who is to be his true new dancing partner and First Lady), the camera would find itself moving away from the Tangerine Man, and onto to faces of the Future of America.
And that is exactly how it should be.