On Tuesday, November 8, the United States held a presidential election.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to rant, and if you are reading this (and I know you, which I likely do), I want you to know that I do not judge how anyone feels or thinks about the outcome of that election. I understand that voting is about BELIEFS, and those are deep and personal, including my own.
As a mother of two little girls, who I hope will one day read all these blog posts I have written for them, I cannot just skip a date that just shook the whole world.
So here goes, the Johnson family version of this election, from my perspective:
First, there was the Bern. A candidate, Bernie Sanders, started running for president as a Democrat, and he set the US on fire with the passion he inspired for change to our current government. He preached taking care of people, a Robin Hood story of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, with radical ideas like free college tuition. He ran unsuccessfully against Hillary Clinton, who accepted the Democratic nomination and set out on a path to potentially be the first female president, ever.
At our home, I read a book called Grace for President to Zoe. It was a hand-me-down from her cousin Sophia, who is almost 8 years older, and like Grace, has never seen a woman on the long list of US Presidents. But I digress.
Simultaneously, 16 candidates came forward for the Republican party, including an independently wealthy entertainer, Donald Trump, who against all odds, won that nomination.
For the past several months, we’ve been on a roller coaster of events for the two primary candidates in this election. And since I have skillfully avoided the topic of politics for many, many, many years, you may have no idea that I have been in California for over 18 years and have never even registered to vote.
I confess this here for my daughters, because I never believed my vote mattered. I thought I was just one in LOTS of millions, so why bother. That was until this year, when, after many rough spots in this election where BOTH candidates were publicly discredited: Hillary for bad choices like deleting 33,000 emails and Trump for making racist and misogynist declarations, VERY publicly and repeatedly.
As a person, those things bother me, but as a mother of two little girls, they are unsettling. I began to fear for what might “become acceptable” if he won and kept talking like that, giving power and voice to the people who don’t like or respect women (or others).
And so this year, I was glued to the television like an addict, watching a slow-motion train wreck. I registered to vote. On election day, I stood in line to vote and at that moment, I got it. I literally had chills as I looked around at all these wildly different people, my neighbors who I did not know, all hopeful and determined to do their part. And I did mine.
Now one could argue that after all, my vote did NOT count. The candidate I chose did not win, but let me tell you what saved me:
On election night, Zoe walked in the door from school and said, “Mommy, no matter who wins, I think we should celebrate, since we’ll have a new president – even if our person doesn’t win.” And the following morning, when “our person didn’t win”, Zoe said, “It’s going to be OK, Mom.” Out of the mouths of babes. Because honestly, I alone cannot get my way in an election, and clearly, there were millions of people in the US with lots of strong feelings, in many directions, about what they wanted to happen.
And so, Donald Trump is now President-Elect. No matter how this went, there was bound to be frustration, anxiety, sadness and anger on all sides, and so, I’m not sure what will happen next, but yes, this happened. I can only hope that the wisdom of my 6-year-old will prevail and that somehow, she sees some outcome that I do not yet see.
To all my friends and family, heck, to everyone who is feeling whatever they’re feeling this week, I send my love to you and the warm light I have from my daughter, who, though she doesn’t fully understand what is happening, I hope ends up being right after all.
May it be OK, for everyone.
And girls, when you read this: VOTE. It’s a right and an honor that people, like me, may take for granted sometimes. You’re better than me. Just do it.