The trauma of this election has left me utterly shaken. The fact that we, as a nation, support a man who is so openly hateful, thin-skinned, impulsive, and ugly is maybe more terrifying than the truth that he will soon hold our nuclear codes.
I know and love people who voted for Trump, and as upset as I currently feel with their choices know they thought they were making the best decision. These voters were mostly motivated by fear for our economy and national security, and believed Trump might be the change we need. They didn’t really like him. They were pretty sure that the Clinton skeletons were more formidable than Trump’s. There are strong arguments against these beliefs, and I feel guilty for failing to convince any good people otherwise. I did not do enough, and I didn’t make an argument that spoke to them. I was emotional, and perhaps insulting, and surely inflammatory during these living room debates. These issues really trigger me—but I could have done better, and I’ll regret that for four years.
Two days ago, I was joyfully tearing up imagining the world in which our child would make her first memories—where a woman holds the highest government office in one of the most powerful nations: what that could mean for her… Will she stand taller? Will she not shy from competition? Will she be more confident answering questions in front of a class (and not blush horribly as I still do)? Will she rebuke feminine pleasantness for pleasantness’ sake and use that energy for more meaningful aspects of life? Will her moxie be ever free of the jeer, “bitch”? All these hopes decayed as my own state of Pennsylvania went red for a man whose insults against my sex raise bile in my throat, whose stance on virtually every human and social issue is an affront to my deepest values.
I am still in shock—but we must move forward. We do not operate under a dictatorship, and his power has checks. That is what I’m telling kids today. As it always was and should be, the onus is on us to move our society forward in a positive direction. Here is what I plan to do to combat the world that Trump presents to my daughter:
- Show her that the world is good. That people as a group are not bad, and that she will never regret being patient or kind to someone who is having a bad day, week, or life. I want to teach her that the way to true happiness comes from sharing, helping those in need, and loving as many people as you can.
- Teach her about consent. I’ll seek to remind her in small ways every day that her body belongs to her completely, and that anyone who comes into her space needs permission. If she doesn’t want to hug and kiss me, it might hurt (I gave birth to you!) but CHOICE reigns supreme. When she is older, conversations about sex will constantly loop back to consent, safety and choice.
- Lead by example: When it comes to societal pressures on women, both in behavior and appearance, I will nonchalantly protest. Don’t want to put on makeup, shave, blowout hair, wear heels? Don’t. You do because it’s fun and you have time? Word. It’s not a requirement, and I’m not going to be hurrying around stressed because I don’t look “perfect.” I was born perfect, and so were you.
- Respect and embrace other cultures. I remember my Grandmother, a Methodist farm-girl from Iowa, coming to a Baptist church where I was singing with friends for a special service. There was a band; people were expressing their love for Jesus with abandon like I’d never seen. I was completely uncomfortable, but then I saw her in the back, smiling, step-touching, clapping and singing, making all kinds of friends. In that moment I understood infinitely more about life. She also introduced me to sushi, loved listening to Selena, and talked to me in-depth about Native American customs she admired. She was rumored to have protested bus seating arrangements inspired by Rosa Parks. In the 1970s, she adopted two children of color and embraced African American culture into her family. She liked differences and trusted everyone, especially people that others didn’t. So just everyone chill and be like her, please.
I know that it’s over, and we must accept the reality of our presidential future, and that, for the meantime it appears that a massively qualified, hardworking and brilliant woman will always lose to a man no matter how much of a sophomoric, bombastic, homophobic, sexist, racist, xenophobic wet fart of a clown he is. And that’s just soul-crushing. But we must use this a motivation for ourselves, to set our bar high for progress and keep moving forward, even if we must drag his fat ass behind us the whole way.