Yesterday I took photos of my almost six-week-old daughter with this pin, imagining that one day I'd get to tell her how a long time ago, people didn't think women could or should be president. When Hillary officially became the nominee over the summer, I cried, overwhelmed with hope. I dreamed that my daughter would be born into a world in which everything would be possible, every vocation open to her; in short, that she'd feel empowered, more than I could ever be, knowing that nothing could hold her back and nobody could deny her the respect she deserved.
Until late yesterday night, I was almost certain Hillary would win. I just knew that my family's efforts--and those of millions of others--to help her would pay off. My husband volunteered with Election Protection, a non-partisan network of volunteer attorneys who helped preserve everyone's right to vote in precincts around the country; my sister-in-law canvassed hundreds of homes in the very important Philadelphia suburbs. I'm so proud of what they did.
Before yesterday, I hoped that, if not for fear of lost progress, surely people would turn out to elect the candidate with actual experience, the one who respects all people, understands policy, and cares about the most vulnerable. If that were not enough, then certainly, I reasoned, it would matter that our president speak in complete, coherent sentences, understand facts, and have some knowledge of the world. It is now clear that it does not matter to *LESS THAN* (but almost) half the country that our next president demeans women; racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; immigrants from certain countries, especially Mexico; LGBT people; people with disabilities; and even our current president. If that were not disqualifying enough, we know the truth is that he (I can't bear to see his name in print one more time) has committed fraud, has not paid his fair share of taxes for a number of years, and so on and so on. Oh, and he assaults women and boasts about it.
Today, I can't imagine what Hillary must feel. To have worked her whole life for this moment, and to be the most prepared candidate for the presidency in history, only to have it wrested from her and given to the least prepared man ever to run for the office.
While she will somehow move on, many millions more will suffer. The magnitude of the coming injustice is terrifying. I am scared for what will happen in the Supreme Court, and I fear for our most vulnerable citizens. What will become of refugees and immigrants, the 20 million people who are most likely going to lose their health insurance, the women who are going to die for lack of access to reproductive medicine, the infants who won't make it because their mothers haven't had prenatal care, the students with disabilities who will fall farther behind, and anyone who's not a white, heterosexual male? I worry too about all the people who don't worry about those people: the evangelicals who indulged in hypocrisy (seriously, what would Jesus do?); the wealthy who continue to gain unnecessary wealth at others' expense; and the whites who close their minds to the reality that most things are easier for them simply because of the color of their skin.
Yesterday taught us that we must continue to teach critical thinking, media literacy, and respect for everyone. I have not a clue what I would tell students if I had to stand at the front of a classroom today. How do you explain that the cheater, the bully, the sexual predator, is the winner? That yesterday, character didn't matter? That decency and honesty didn't win out in the end?
Do I hang on to this pin and show her what could have been? Save it, so I can tell her that once upon a time, people believed in electing a woman, not because of her gender but because of her character, qualifications, experience, and knowledge?
Do I place it somewhere special, in the hopes that, someday, another woman might have the chance to shatter that final glass ceiling? Or do I I hide it away, and grieve what might never be, because I'm honestly not sure if it ever will?