I wrote this last week, when I was feeling a little more optimistic than I do today. I’m posting it in hope that, as Anne Lamott wrote so eloquently, Democracy, the great good thing, one person one vote, is the loudest voice in the land.
Hey world, it’s almost over. Next week, we finally (hopefully) will call it done, and move on with our country and this messy thing we call democracy. I can’t recall anyone saying how awesome this election season has been, so I am going to start. Yes, it’s been nasty (!) and divisive, and has taken entirely too much brain space. I feel as though I have been living with a low-grade fever for months, a combination of stress, panic and sometimes resignation.
But there have been some moments where a light has shined, where I have been surprised. Where I’ve learned something new. This election, for all of the mess, has had moments that have changed us, and I think for good. A friend once described me as Pollyana-in-hell…so here I am, Pollyana-ing my way to November 8.
- We’re engaged. Everyone has an opinion this time. Everyone is invested. Maybe some we love are invested on the other side of the ballot, but none of us are passive bystanders without a point of view. The other day I read that the one bipartisan issue is that we are all freaked out. Which means we care, right?
- We’re reflective. We’re thinking about what it means to us, personally, to be an American. To be patriotic. We’re thinking about trust, mistakes, forgiveness. We’re thinking about the Constitution, and the Supreme Court. We’re thinking about what we believe, and what we’re willing to change. We’re thinking about hate and tolerance (and I am talking about all of us), individual rights and public safety.
- Feminism is a thing again. Hillary is representing, and has taken the hits for women who are still fighting for equal pay, equal opportunities and an equal voice. My daughters proclaim their feminism with confidence I haven’t heard before. So does my mother, and so do I.
- Sexism is visible. So is sexual assault. Men are speaking out against it. And not just men with mothers and/or daughters (and as Samantha Bee points out, if you’re human, you do have a female relative, somewhere). We are believing women this time, and gosh, it’s about time.
- We are alert and aware. Our emails, our conversations, our actions…they all matter, and they don’t disappear into a black hole. We are paying attention to how we represent ourselves, even if we’re not running for President. We see proof that we must be accountable.
- Michelle Obama. One of her epic speeches, here. I have loved watching her become powerful, passionate and a voice to inspire all of us. Also, Appreciating Barack. Barack Obama made me proud to be an American. He made me feel patriotic. I didn’t love him every minute of his first term, but I have appreciated him every minute of his second. I was mistaken to believe his election in 2008 meant an end to racism in our country, when it actually put a magnifying glass on the hatred hiding beneath the surface. And Hillary’s (hopeful) election will do the same for feminism. But he has shown us how to stand with integrity and do the right thing (even is mistakes have been made). I wish the Obamas could stay forever.
- Learning how to disagree. If you’ve been reading here, you know I have been practicing how to write about politics, about how we can live together and love each other, even when our beliefs step on each others’ rights. While some don’t want to talk politics at all, I realize how influential these leaders are to our personal lives, and I really want to know what and why others believe the way they do. I have not tried to change anyone’s mind, but I have been brave enough to speak up, and also to trust my relationships and ask what others see and feel. A few of the pieces I have written are here (in reverse chronological order, which I hope demonstrates some of my own growth): What if we treated this election as an opportunity?, Divided, we fail, You’ve been served, Your moral compass is broken, Trumpression, and I’m with her.
- We have new words and phrases. When they go low, we go high. I am a nasty woman and I vote. Gas lighting (I had to look it up), dog whistle (I didn’t have to look that one up), misogyny (always a word, just not a ten-times-a-day word), implicit bias, shimmy, taco trucks, rigged, bigly (not all new words are good)…they all mean something new to us now. I love words. Except for Pussygate, which is a word one can’t unhear (and we probably shouldn’t, as disgusting as it is).
- Hillary, as herself. I have a few friends who know Hillary personally, and speak of her as warm, compassionate, funny, loyal and super smart. But that Hillary hasn’t always been visible. I’ve loved watching her show more of herself to us. I have been inspired in the debates, beyond my expectations. She has had focus, she is prepared, and she cares about the issues I care about. And I don’t care about the 33,000 emails (not that I think that was smart, and they do bother me, but not enough to disregard her).
- My mom. She has always said she hopes there will be a woman President in her life time. If she wins, I will fly down to Southern California to watch the inauguration of Hillary Clinton, and I suspect we will cry. And then we will toast her, because it’s just beginning.
Bonus pack of stuff I’ve loved: Bernie Sanders and his influence on the Democratic platform, Elizabeth Warren, Five Thirty Eight, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, Katy Tur, Nicolle Wallace, The New York Times, Slate, Politico, this Instagram, Dan Rather on Facebook, Randy Rainbow, Samantha Bee, Presidential Debate Drinking Games, Millennials (as a group with more passion than hate), my conservative friends on Facebook, who didn’t disown me, and my liberal, articulate and persuasive friends who took up the fight on Facebook in my place, plus this wine.
What about you? Did anything shift for you, in a good way?
Elections are a wonderful thing, even this one. But it will be better when it’s over.