Protesting In Our Nation's Capital

Protesting In Our Nation's Capital

“This is what democracy looks like…” These were the words chanted by dozens of protesters outside the U.S. Senate in the early hours of Friday morning. Senators met in closed chambers to vote on a new proposed bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.


Suspense grew on the Senate floor and in the restless crowd outside as everyone waited for the impending vote. At 1:30am, Senator John McCain, along with two other Republican senators, cast the votes which ultimately killed the health care repeal. I had the opportunity to witness this historic moment in the midst of demonstrators on Capitol Hill.


The Capitol Building


Earlier that evening, a friend of mine saw an article from The Hill noting health care repeal protestors gathering outside the Senate. Since I’ve been in Washington D.C., I hadn’t participated in any protests, so I thought it’d be an interesting experience to attend. Little did I know that I would not only witness history that night, but I would also meet a number of notable U.S. senators following the vote.


Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders addressing the crowd.


Throughout the night, various speakers, including cancer survivors and those with physical and mental disabilities, shared personal stories on the importance of the Affordable Care Act and the impact of the repeal on thousands of Americans. The crowd loudly chanted, “Kill the bill” in between speakers and, according to CNN, the protesters yelled so thunderously that it could even be heard inside the Senate chambers.

Several people burst into tears as the final vote count was released. It was moving to see the emotional reactions of those struggling with disabilities. Not long after the vote, U.S. senators exited the Capitol and came over to the crowd. I heard speeches from Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken, Kamala Harris, and Chris Murphy. I even took a selfie with Elizabeth Warren following her speech.


TWC selfie with Senator Elizabeth WarrenCelebrating with Senator Elizabeth Warren and fellow blogger, Navneet.


This experience is one that I will remember forever. No matter your ideology, I highly encourage everyone in Washington, D.C. to participate in a protest at least once. Freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are rights that we shouldn’t take for granted.

Ciao for now,
Emily Pingleton


Read Emily's previous blog posts

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More