I wasn't confident in how the night would go, but I wasn't truly afraid. America would never vote a hate-filled bully, a man who bragged on the record of sexually assaulting women, a man can't run a business- was literally handed millions and still left behind a string of bankruptcies, a man whose career is riddled with screwing over anyone smaller or weaker than him including many small business owners, a group of people I hold near and dear to my heart, into one of the most powerful positions in the world. The Right claims to care about family values and this is a man on his third marriage who cheated on two wives. They say they care about the Constitution and this is a man who revoked press passes when journalists weren't complimentary in violation of the First Amendment, whose stance on using religion as a screening tool or a means of disallowing citizens into the United States mocks the First, Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, and a man who advocates a stop and frisk policy that has already been found to violate the Fourth and Fifth. The Constitution cannot endure if we do not uphold it. This is a man whose twitter feed reads like an rage-filled playground bully, a man whose temperament and impulse control are so nonexistent he wasn't even allowed access to that twitter feed in the days leading up to the vote. This a man who mocked a disabled man and who belittles and name calls anyone who disagrees with him. A man endorsed by the KKK. A weak man who, when his supporters beat up a homeless Hispanic man outside one of his rallies, responded with a simple "well, my supporters are very passionate."
He has shown us at every step exactly who he is, so no way would America agree that that's who we are too.
And on a practical note, he never actually told us anything about how he would do any of the things he claimed. Fix Healthcare? How? Lower the national debt? How? His only detailed plan was his tax plan which was shown to increase the national debt 26x more than Hillary's. Build a wall? Please, he stopped talking about that once he won the primary. He said he didn't need to know the names of Eastern European countries and would figure them out "when he won." There was never any substance and he is extraordinarily uninformed about the world and how our government works. No way we would let him be the one in the room with powerful, far more prepared foreign figures deciding things we don't even know about.
But we did.
The kids had been so excited about election night. We made cookies and signs. I answered 55,000 questions on the electoral college, Congress, term lengths, state government, political parties, and a million other things. When it became clear early on it would be a late night, we sent them to bed with promises of the results in the morning. I still believed I'd be able to tearfully tell my children we had our first female president and that our country was secure in the hands of a knowledgeable, hard-working, fair person.
I was wrong.
The kids burst in our room this morning just as I was reading the news myself (we'd gone to bed about 11:30, when the writing was on the wall but not yet final) and I couldn't choke it out. James told them. I pulled myself together and we talked about limited government, the checks and balances (leaving out they're all now Republican and the Supreme Court, already the most conservative ever is about to take another hard right), that everyone makes their choices and isn't it wonderful they will get to make their own in just a few more elections. That in four years we will do this again, and everyone will choose their candidate and support them and root for them and hope they win. That there are lots of ways mommy and daddy support the things they believe in. That we donate money to groups who help protect those more vulnerable than us. That nothing changes their friendships, where we live, or our support for our school and our community.
Several hours later I almost believe what I told them. I'm a pragmatic optimist and generally worry about very little. The country in the hands of Donald Trump truly scares me. When Kerry lost to Bush I was disappointed. I didn't think Bush was a good president, but I did not believe he was a bad person. I believe Trump is a bad person whose thin-skinned temperament he has exhibited over and over again will make for a disastrous president. I'm having a hard time moving on from that.
Separately, I feel a deep loss at our opportunity for a female president. I voted for Hillary because I believe she would have done an excellent job. It was a bonus thrill for me to imagine a woman in the highest office in the land. You can tell your daughters they can be anything, but until it happens, it isn't really true. I feel a deep sadness at the loss of that powerful image.
And I feel sadness at the fact that half (well, slightly less than half; Hillary won the popular vote) of the country voted for Donald Trump. That hate and intolerance won. That Muslim, Hispanic, LGBTQ and other minority groups woke up genuinely afraid this morning. A friend was dropping her 1st grade daughter off at elementary school when an older boy (4th grade maybe) yelled out "hey, you have to go back to Mexico now!" and he and all his friends laughed. Another friend is a 2nd grade teacher and she told a tearful Muslim student yesterday that she had nothing to worry about. As she posted on facebook last night, what do I tell her today? This isn't hypothetical hand wringing. This is actually happening.
So I am gutted.
But. As I pull myself together, I remember that what I told my children is true. This does not change our family or how we interact with others. We can be agents of good. We have doubled our monthly Planned Parenthood donations and added the ACLU. I have joined the Pantsuit Nation Tarrant County Chapter and look forward to our first meeting next week with ideas on how to get involved on a local level. I'm reaching out to my immigration attorney friends and asking how I can help. I have a legal degree and I'm certain I can make better use of it in my free time. There is so much good around me, I want to be someone who adds more.
As I watched Hillary's concession speech and cried, I also felt inspired. This part in particular:
And to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this. I have, as Tim [Kaine] said, spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I've had successes and I've had setbacks - sometimes really painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public and political careers. You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts. But please, never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it.
It is. It is worth it.
And so, we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.
And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.
Now, I know, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling but someday, someone will and hopefully sooner than we think right now.
And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.
I don't know that we have shown our girls that that last part is true. Electing a man who at 60 bragged about sexual assaulting women isn't a great way to tell girls they are valuable. But we will do what we can to show our children otherwise. I was truly inspired by this post. We can be the America we want to be in our own home and in our community. I love this country and I want to be a vibrant part of it. We will teach inclusion and the fact that America is a place where everyone is from somewhere else. We will emphasize the ideal that the strong protect the weak.
I haven't given up and we are not done. We just have more work to do than I thought.
(And if you have any suggestions on that work- good places to donate time or money, ways to reach out to those feeling vulnerable to let them know they are loved, ways to get involved in Tarrant county, or anything else you can think of, I would truly love to hear them. We will be the good we want to see in our country. And while we're doing that, we'll look to 2018.)