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Berkshire progressives warn conservative agenda is “Bigger Than Dobbs” at Sunday’s rally for civil rights

The flyer for Sunday's "Bigger Than Dobbs" rally in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Greylock Together
The flyer for Sunday's "Bigger Than Dobbs" rally in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

A rally in Williamstown, Massachusetts this weekend will mark two years since the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion access protections.

Sunday’s “Bigger Than Dobbs” event at Field Park is being held by Greylock Together, a local chapter of the progressive Indivisible movement that formed after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016.

“It's been two years since the Supreme Court ruled on the Dobbs case and overturned Roe vs. Wade and since we lost the right to abortion in this country, and unfortunately, so much more," said Greylock Together member Wendy Penner. "And so, the call to action is not just the threats to women's reproductive rights, but to highlight the agenda of Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans- And it's all there in black and white in this Project 2025 document.”

“We know that the upcoming election is huge," said Pamela Wax, another organizer with Greylock Together." We have to codify repro rights nationally, we need to enact democratic reform, and that means we cannot reelect Trump. We have to have a Democrat in the White House. The Heritage Foundation has put out Project 2025, which is a 900-page document citing everything they want to do if Trump is reelected, which would be to focus power inside the White House. It's a terribly reactionary agenda, and that's why it's called ‘Bigger Than Dobbs.’”

Founded in 1973, the Heritage Foundation rose to prominence in the 80s through its influential “Mandate For Leadership” report that deeply influenced the agenda of the Reagan White House.

“Coming up down the pike, according to Project 2025, would be to end marriage equality, suppress the vote, rescind all LGBTQ rights, even end the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, privatize Social Security, and the list goes on and on in terms of restricting freedom of speech – even your job, Josh might be on the line in terms of freedom of press, no separation of church and state," said Wax. "As I said, it's a very long list, and we need to be concerned.”

The rally comes ahead of a Biden-Trump presidential rematch marked by the deep unpopularity of both candidates.

“I think you need to speak the really difficult truths that people- It's just unfortunately too easy to tune out and not acknowledge the very scary things that are happening, which is, Trump and the Republicans would rather let women die or suffer than allow them to make decisions about their own body, and this is quite literally true," said Penner. "This is not just about abortion, but access to health care. And that's just one aspect of the radical agenda that we would be faced with in the Trump presidency.”

Democrats are making restoring abortion access a focus of the campaign, while Trump has walked a finer line. He takes credit for the Dobbs decision, but says he doesn’t favor a national abortion ban, leaving it up to the states.

“Donald Trump has pledged to scrap the policies on electric vehicles and wind energy, and he's very transparent," Penner continued. "He's told the oil executives, give me $1 billion and I will roll back everything that Biden has done. And this is undemocratic, it's un-American, and it's dangerous to the extreme. So really, everything is on the line, and it's not just politics as usual. This is not normal. This is our democracy being undermined.”

Wax says she feels a generational divide with younger Democrats and progressives increasingly disenchanted with Biden due to his support of Israel’s bloody military campaign in Gaza.

“I would go down this same list and say, are you really ready to risk immigrant rights and homeless rights and restrict freedom of speech and Medicare and Social Security and marriage equality for what's going on halfway around the world?" she told WAMC. "And it's not that I don't care about what's happening halfway around the world, I just think that we have to keep our eyes on the ball in this country- And I'm very fearful that that is a red herring, and that people are falling for it.”

Penner hopes Sunday’s “Bigger Than Dobbs” event will be ultimately celebratory despite its dire warnings.

“We want to be visible and vocal, and we are going to have a bullhorn available so that we can amplify the voices of some speakers who we have planned who will be able to speak to some of their own experiences around their own health and safety and how they have been threatened, and also some of the incredible work that was done especially by women in the 60s and 70s that is now- We're having to fight these fights again, which is unbelievable,” she told WAMC.

The rally begins at 11:30 am.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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