Yesterday I took my 11 week old daughters to vote with me. I held it together while voting for Hillary and when taking a picture of us with the “I Voted” sticker. As I started walking home, tears streamed down my face as I thought of the magnitude of a female president less than 100 years after getting the right to vote. Yesterday was full of hope for me and my daughters.
Today I woke up to the news and shed a different type of tears for the uncertainty of what lies ahead in the next four years. We now have a President elect that has proven himself to have the temperament of a six year old child. Not only will he have the greatest power, but he will also be accompanied by a majority in the House and Senate making it that much easier to use that power. This is a man that exemplifies behaviors that are the opposite of what I will teach my children.
I did not vote for Hillary solely because she is a woman. It was an added bonus, but was not why I voted for her.
Several years ago, I changed my party affiliation to Independent because I realized that my voting habits were based on the candidate I thought would do the best job, not on him or her being a democrat. I try to look at which candidate is the better of the two or sometimes the least objectionable candidate. Had the Republicans ended up with a different nominee, then perhaps my vote would have gone there. I do believe that Hillary is extremely qualified for the job whether you agree with her or not, whether you like her or not.
Trump to me represents the opposite of what I believe America was meant to be. I don’t know what it was or what it is or if it ever was great. I do know that it was meant to be a country that was accepting of all people regardless of where they come from or what they believe in. This includes exercising their freedom of speech. It also includes someones right to not stand up for the national anthem if they so choose. Freedom is what this country was built on (whether it actually was or not is another story) and telling someone that they have to stand for something is the opposite of that. Some of Trump’s supporters (the ones that spew hate and beat people up that don’t agree with their unwavering love for Trump) represent the antithesis of the country I want to live in and that I want to raise my children in. These people who say we are trying to take their constitutional rights by setting gun control laws are the same people who want to take Colin Kaperneck’s freedom away by shaming him for not standing to the national anthem. The American idealism is about our freedom to express ourselves. It is about immigrants creating better lives for themselves and their children. It is about accepting different views and religions. Based on our country’s history, it can be debated whether this has ever been the case. I believe that it is where we were meant to go.
Many people will say in the coming days that the fear some of us feel is unfounded. I have to tell you that it is very REAL. Domestically the risk is overturning laws that have given our citizens basic human rights, like Roe vs Wade and marriage equality. Globally we are looking at the high possibility of war. I am not being dramatic. Obama was not incorrect in saying that someone who cannot be trusted with Twitter, for certain can cot be trusted with nuclear codes. None of this is a joke. It is Reality TV on an international stage.
All day as I looked at my daughters, I thought about what I can do to make sure that they grow up in an America where they feel safe as women, as Jews, as humans. I know that I have been complacent all these years. I don’t actively engage in politics, vote on non-presidential election years, etc. Where do we go from here to ensure that we preserve our rights in the next four years and the ones to follow?
The first is in the power of a united voice. We all have to become more engaged. We need to understand what laws or bills are being reviewed by the government and make sure that we make our voices heard. We can’t sit back and just let things happen.
The second is more of a hope than something that I can actually impact. I hope that this election shakes up the current political party system. It’s obvious that it is broken and has been for some time. We saw throughout the race that there were many GOP leaders that were not with Trump. They did not endorse him, they may or may not have worn white to vote for a Democrat, they even spoke openly about voting for Hillary. It is time for those people to re-evaluate what the Republican party truly stands for. The outcome might be more than one party. The same thing goes for the Democratic party. We might be looking at redefining what we each believe in and stand for.
I know that nothing changes overnight. I am not someone who is going to lead a movement. I am simply someone who feels a little helpless today and is trying to find a light or something that we can hold onto to provide some hope.
Yesterday I felt so hopeful and I am hoping that I can still find a little bit of that hope. Let people’s anger and sadness turn into positive action to propel the country forward and not backward. Hillary said it best in her concession speech when she said, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”