This is me. At around 7:45 on the morning of November 8th. Exhilarated! I was so thrilled to have voted for Hillary Clinton, the woman I was so sure was going to be President that I insisted on documenting the historic event with a photo. I am wearing my most patriotic Clinton-esque red pantsuit jacket.
Quaint, eh? About as quaint as the Clinton-Kaine pin my daughter gave me to commemorate the occasion. I carry it around as a talisman, but I worry that it’s just a kitschy souvenir.
My hand is on my heart – pledging allegiance – and showing off the ring I am wearing. My mother’s ring. She was with me that day.
It is from my mother that I got my political grounding.
My mother was a Democrat. On Election Day, she would take me with her into the voting booth and show me how it worked. I felt very grown up, very excited, and very proud. It was a sacred privilege, voting.
My mother was the first feminist I knew. She was a charter subscriber to Ms. Magazine. Literally. She got every issue of the magazine as long as it existed. It’s one of many many magazines that I grew up with in a household where words mattered. No wonder I made a career in magazines.
My mother believed that women were equal to men (actually, I think she believed that women were better than men) and that I could be anything. ANYTHING! She encouraged me to go to Bryn Mawr College so that I would be with other intelligent and serious women who wanted to make a difference. We women wanted to matter. I wanted to matter. To make a difference. To contribute something important to the world.
Sometimes I feel like Hillary must feel. Hard-working, over-prepared, focused on the details, only to be bested by some guy who shoots from the hip. Haven’t we women all been there? When will it stop?
This election was the first election my mother was not alive and did not vote. It seemed fitting that it was the first election in which my daughter could and did vote. Continuing the democratic lineage. Excited and proud.
It is a sacred privilege, voting. Have we forgotten how fortunate we are to live in a democracy? Did we take voting for granted? Our vote does matter, doesn’t it?
The shock that such a selfish and cavalier man could beat such an experienced and intelligent woman has left me with no words.
In the five weeks since, I have reflected on how I want to handle this mind-boggling reality. I alternate between outrage, fear, disbelief, and attempts at patience and optimism. A Democrat, like my mom, I tend to be pragmatic and centrist, always a diplomat, never particularly active. Careful to try to understand both sides and all points of view. Too conflict avoidant to be provocative.
When I am optimistic, I wonder if the outcome of this election is just what we needed to shake us all up. To create a constructive political movement that will lead to positive change.
The week of the election, the Dalai Lama appeared in my dream. He counseled me to distinguish between being concerned and being caring. It’s all about caring, he told me.
Wise words, don’t you think? Being concerned is intellectual and kind of negative and judgmental. Being caring is active and personal and hands on. Caring is positive. I think of that every day. How can I be positive, constructive and caring in an impactful way? What kind of example do I want to set for my children? What political legacy will I leave them?
For now, I have decided to choose and focus on a few issues that are meaningful to me and that honor my mother and her political legacy to me.
- Women’s Rights. Particularly reproductive freedom. I am Pro Choice.
- Freedom of the Press. I never thought I would feel the need to fight for the First Amendment.
- The Environment. After all, if we destroy our world, then it doesn’t really matter who is President, does it?
I don’t quite know all the ways I will act to support these issues. I am not used to feeling that it is imperative that I act. I do know that I will keep caring, peace, and kindness top of mind – like the Dalai Lama.
And, I will not take our democracy for granted. Believing in democracy is not quaint. Voting is a sacred privilege. It is our sacred duty to protect our democracy, our right to vote.