My daughter is a great person. I admire her for many reasons, her breathtaking beauty the least of them. She is kind. She is concerned. She is conscientious. She recycles.
As a little girl, she used to plug worms back into the ground so they wouldn’t burn to death on the sidewalk. I used to call her Serena Bambina, Worm Saver, and drew pictures of her with a W on her chest.
When she was a young teen, she would see homeless people as we drove her to school or School of Rock, and she would make us roll down the window so that she could give someone her own money, out of her own wallet.
Last night, she was shocked and upset. She has felt a little panicked all day today, and she asked me what she could do now. So I gave her a few ideas—start a club at school, make pamphlets, spread information so that people know the email addresses and phone numbers of their senators and representatives. But the thing I think she should do is the thing she does best: write. (And when the song comes, you can bet I’ll post it here. And then I will ask you to buy it for a dollar, which will go to Planned Parenthood. They will need it.)
As for me: I make a relatively good living. I have health insurance. I am beyond childbearing years. I am white. I am straight. I live in the city. I came from parents who had nothing at first but became well off. My husband and I are both college educated and have no college loan debt (I have two master’s degrees, and my husband has one in legal and ethical studies, plus bachelor’s degrees in history, philosophy, and education.) My daughter is at college on a scholarship and will have no debt, either.
I do not need special healthcare from my government. I don’t need an abortion (but I did twice and was lucky enough to be able to get them). I am not worried about being sent back to another country. I am already married to a man, so I don’t have to worry about the freedom to marry a woman.
I voted so that you could have these things. I voted because what I enjoy as a citizen should be yours to enjoy. I voted for you. Because you should get to decide to marry the person you love, and you should get to decide how to handle your own healthcare. And you should get to escape poverty and terrorism and pursue the American dream, you being our tired, our poor, our huddled masses.
The three of us proudly voted for Hillary Clinton, and we did it early because we couldn’t wait to do it, and we celebrated with sushi afterward. In four years, I would vote for her again. In eight.
As a family and on our own, we looked into Secretary Clinton’s record (her real, actual, true, factual record, in case you’re wondering) because we are grownups, and when someone tells us something, we check it out for ourselves. It’s our responsibility to do that, to inform ourselves, rather than to take the competition’s word for it. (Seriously, do you take Coke’s word for why Pepsi isn’t good, or do you taste them for yourself and decide?) We know how Hillary Clinton investigated private schools as a law student to see whether they discriminated against black people. We know that she was the first employee of the Children’s Defense Fund, which was started to help disadvantaged children. We know that she has spent her entire life and career trying to help other people, especially women, children, and minorities. She has supported the LGBT community, women’s rights, and human rights around the world. She expanded the Family Medical Leave Act. She graduated from Yale Law School at a time when few women did that. And she won a fucking Grammy!
You know that parable about the squirrel who eats all his nuts while another squirrel stores them away, and then it’s winter, and the squirrel who ate his nuts is starving, but the other squirrel has all of his nuts saved up, and he ain’t sharing? That’s not a true scenario. All squirrels store their nuts. But some squirrels don’t get as many because they don’t have the same opportunities. (People still do not get to see apartments because their voices “sound black” when they call.) Some squirrels just don’t have the same opportunities. It’s in my best interest to share. And it makes me feel good to help someone.
In this election, as in every election, I voted for other people. I voted for black people—for a black man to not get shot while doing his job protecting an autistic white man who is having a meltdown. I voted for my daughter to be able to marry a woman if she is in love. I voted for your neighbor to have affordable health insurance. I voted so that the veterans panhandling at the JFX and Cold Spring Lane could have some nuts.
I’m going to cry for a long time. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m worried. I’m afraid for our future, about the messages we send to our daughters. I’m worried about the messages we’re sending our sons!
But I’m not shrinking. And I will ALWAYS live by the motto that I espouse here and there and everywhere: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (That’s Rabbi Hillel, who also implored us to follow the Golden Rule: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” That is the whole bible, too—the whole Koran (Qur’an). The Golden Rule is the foundation of almost every religion on earth.
Friends, let’s do something good. Let’s do something useful. Many of us remember eight miserable years under George W. Bush. We know how that felt, and it’s going to be harder this time. We can’t let that stop us. So as soon as we’re finished grieving, let those poems and colors and notes flow, flow like the liquid analgesics many of us will need for a few more weeks.