As I began this article, I was glued to the television – watching results come in for the Presidential election that were vastly different than anything I expected. I went to bed before the final votes were in, and cried myself to sleep in my husband’s arms. I said all along it could happen. I knew, in my head, that this man was appealing to all that is selfish about humankind. As the results came in, I wasn’t surprised. But that didn’t make me any less devastated. My heart believed that good would prevail. My heart believed that people would stand up against hate. My heart believes that God is Love … and that Love always wins. But last night, love did not win.
My husband and I laid awake for hours last night, wondering:
How do we raise daughters under him as President? How do we protect their rights?
How do we live in a country filled with so much hate and animosity?
Where do we go from here?
And now … as the final results are in … as we prepare for Donald Trump to become the President of the United States … I can’t help but think about how we got to the place where we are today.
Yesterday, I read my daughters a story about a black woman who walked to her polling place to cast her vote. As she walked through her town, she reflected on those who came before her, and the events in history that brought her to today. She looked back on her great-grandparents, who were sold as slaves and were forced to work in a cotton field. She looked back on the African American men who gained the right to vote in 1870, and the wives that stood beside them, even though they couldn’t cast their own vote. She looked back on her grandpa, who was charged a poll tax in order to cast his vote … a poll tax he couldn’t afford. Her uncle who had to take tests before he could vote … tests that didn’t have any right answers – only wrong ones. She looked back on the first women to be granted the right to vote – her own mother included – in 1920. She remembers the angry mobs, the burning crosses, the hate and animosity. She thinks about trying to register to vote, having to write down a section of the Constitution word for word … yet another unpassable test. She remembers the people who died standing up for what’s right. John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr, rabbis, priests, and other good-hearted Americans. She remembers the first time she cast her own vote – in 1965 – and in every single election after that. She walked and walked to cast her vote … and she did it because she knew the sacrifices that were made so that she had the right to vote.
I’ve voted in every single election since I turned 18. I don’t always make the most informed decisions, but I always try to research and vote according to my heart, my faith, and my education. I always vote for goodness. For equality. For love. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t allowed to vote.
And this year, I voted for a woman. I voted for a woman who I thought would be the next President of the United States. I voted for a woman who has – for years – fought for rights for children, for women, for those most in need. I voted for a woman who makes me proud to be American. A woman who inspires me to do better. A woman who I believe in – and I think she probably believes in me. That woman lost the election, but she won my heart. And she inspired me to do better. To be better. To love harder. To rise up and go high.
Many people in my social circle voted differently than me. And while I don’t understand how they could possibly vote for someone who espoused hate at every turn, I do respect their vote. I respect their voice. I respect that they exercised their right to vote.
And now, even in the midst of our grief and despair … maybe because of our grief and despair, it’s time to move forward. If Hillary taught us anything, it’s that we are Stronger Together. It’s that we never give up. It’s that we get fired up and ready to go.
Men and women of America … people of America, we’ve got a lot of work to do. Take a moment to grieve today, and then let’s get to work. Let’s join hands and show that united we are strong. Let’s work together to show that we will overcome hate and fear and animosity. Because we will overcome. And we will not be silenced. God is Love. And Love will always win.