The 2019 Women’s March doesn’t kick off until Saturday, but what was once the left’s favorite anti-Trump fest is already stumbling.
The Democratic National Committee delivered a devastating blow Tuesday by dropping its affiliation with the third annual Women’s March on Washington, D.C., joining a growing list of liberal groups that have severed ties with the organization amid allegations of anti-Semitism, which the leaders deny.
The fall has been dramatic. In 2017, more than 560 progressive advocacy groups were listed on the Women’s March website as partners. As of Tuesday, there were fewer than 200.
The DNC released a statement saying that it “stands in solidarity with all those fighting for women’s rights,” but offered no explanation for the decision. Nor did Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who are not planning to attend this year’s march, according to BuzzFeed.
Mercy Morganfield, who headed the Women’s March D.C. organization for two years before leaving in December in part over conflicts with the national leadership, had a theory for the departures: self-preservation.
“I’m glad to see that they’re saying, ‘This is not something we want to associate with,’ not necessarily because they have some sort of moral ground, although I’m hoping they do,” said Ms. Morganfield, whose chapter folded when she left. “I think people are starting to jump ship because they want to protect themselves.”
The Women’s March leaders have been roiled by calls for their resignations over their associations with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, as well as recent reports about a 2017 organizer who says she was berated by two leaders and kicked out in part because she is Jewish.
The four national co-chairs — Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour — have staunchly denied the allegations, but judging from the dramatic decline in support, the mounting criticism has taken its toll.
“They [supporters] don’t want to go down with the ship when the ship goes down,” Ms. Morganfield said. “They don’t want to be the people that waited too long before withdrawing their support.”
Not everyone has cut off the Women’s March. Among the groups still backing the Women’s March are heavy hitters such as Planned Parenthood, the American Federation of Teachers, and the ACLU. Three companies are also listed as sponsors: Johnnie Walker, Ben & Jerry’s, and Echte Liebe.
AFT President Randi Weingarten tweeted last month that while she and the leaders “don’t agree on everything,” they are “warriors for justice and I am honored to know them and work with them & call them friends.”
Like the DNC, organizations that have pulled their support have by and large declined to criticize the Women’s March, either ignoring requests for comment or issuing statements of support for women’s rights in general.
People for the American Way, which partnered with the march in 2017 but not 2019, encouraged its members to show up.
“These events are an opportunity to stand together against all forms of bigotry, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia,” said PFAW Vice President for Communications Drew Courtney in a statement. “That’s a particularly urgent priority at a time when the President and his allies appeal to hatred and division on a daily basis.”
The DNC will not serve as a sponsor and no DNC leaders will speak at Saturday’s march, a Democratic source confirmed to The Washington Times, after sending two prominent officials to address the 2018 Women’s March, including DNC chairman Tom Perez.
Others jumping off the Women’s March bandwagon include major progressive groups like the Center for American Progress, Emily’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The NAACP is no longer a partner, although NAACP Youth & College is, according to the Women’s March website.
Not everyone who marches will be affiliated with the Women’s March. Some sister march groups, including those in Denver and Los Angeles, have said they are no longer affiliated with the national group.
The Women’s March Alliance, an entirely separate group that has denounced anti-Semitism, is planning a major march Saturday in New York City.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America praised the DNC and progressive groups for separating themselves from the Women’s March.
“JDCA supports the original objectives of the Women’s March and stands in solidarity with sister marches across the country this weekend,” said JDCA executive director Halie Soifer in a Tuesday statement.
“We also welcome the decision of the DNC, NARAL, NAACP, SPLC, Emily’s List, and many other organizations to not sponsor, partner with, and participate in the Women’s March because its leadership refuses to clearly denounce anti-Semitism and bigotry,” Ms. Soifer said.
The Women’s March rallied Tuesday by unveiling a 20-member steering committee, which consisted mainly of social-justice activists, including three who were described as Jewish. More than 100 cities are holding sister marches Saturday, according to the website.
In a Monday interview on ABC’s “The View,” Ms. Bland said that the march has worked to repair relationships with the Jewish community.
“We condemn any statements of hate, and we’ve actually been working so hard over the last two years to fight this type of hate, over and over again,” Ms. Bland said. “We’re committed to repairing any harm because we understand that the Jewish community is feeling hurt right now.”
Not helping was Ms. Mallory, however, who told co-host Meghan McCain that she disagreed with “many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements,” but refused to condemn him.
So far the Women’s March has not released a list of speakers for Saturday’s event in Washington, D.C., whose theme is #WomensWave, a reference to female victories in the November election.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with Planned Parenthood and with the other groups,” Ms. Morganfeld said. “I understand you wanting to support the women’s movement, but the Women’s March is no longer the women’s movement.”