In light of the election and its aftermath, I feel I owe you an explanation, an apology, and some forward looking thoughts. That it has taken me three days to get to this is indicative of how hard my emotions were and still are swinging.
To validate your experience I will tell you that the morning after, probably by 10 AM I felt a deep sadness and heaviness reminiscent of how I felt after 9/11, complete with the moments of absolute panic for our well-being and more acutely the well-being of our friends, many of whom are well outside the boxes defined by old white men. I thought briefly about not letting Elizabeth go away to college where she might be grabbed for sport and raped conscious or otherwise behind a dumpster because if it happened before with our current president in office what will happen now? In the last three days I've seen enough to cause a riot of maternal panic. I no longer want to tell you to stand up for your rights as a human being; instead I want to tell you every way I learned to protect myself from harm at your age beginning with never setting foot in a frat party without the protection of at boyfriend, never going out at night alone, and altering your wardrobe. I'd rather you were safe and alive then making a point. I don't want you to die or hurt irredeemably for it.
I want to have a word about that. The crotch grabbing, hijab pulling, threatening, spewed taunting and/or threats, overt misogynistic disregard and hate was always there, we just didn't look at it as a whole. I mean the disregard and hate, if not the actions; the difference now is we see it, we cannot look away. The hate was always there but the actions were not all reported and I suspect a good amount of what we're hearing is new like the ten year old school boy who grabbed a 10 year old's vagina because, he said, 'if the president can do it, I can too.'
That's the part that really scares me, that so many men and boys have those thoughts and inclinations but have only been held in check by our collective social mores. A stable society demands an agreed upon set of standards where the result is more uncomfortable than the pleasure in defying the law. A good many of those just went down the toilet.
So far this letter isn't making you feel any better, is it? Hang in there with me and we'll come out the other side but first there are some things I want you to look at and this might hurt.
The first thing I'm going to tell you is let go of this Electoral College business. I say this because it's a distraction and I suspect most of the people signing the petition this week don't understand how it works, why its engineered the way it is, and how we got to this place. I'm not suggesting it doesn't need an overhaul but now is not the time, there are immediate issues which demand our full attention. The other thing is this, if it had gone the other way, if Mr. Trump had the popular vote by the same very small margin and it was Secretary Clinton who hit the magic 270 electoral votes we surely would not be protesting, and that is a fact.
Secondly, as a Democratic people we didn't and still don't understand the constituency that we are. We are fractured and split in a manner which I believe contributed to our lack, not just her lack, but our lack of a cohesive message to the people who really do make a difference. It's not just our voting that counts. We privileged and cloistered white people are arrogant and deaf. Not only can't we hear view points other than our own, but we spew disparaging venom in the faces of dissent. That the Bernie Bros were even a possibility stems from a terrifying entitled self-righteousness (THIS is the trophy generation) and tolerance on our part that isolates us from the rest of the country. There aren't as many of us as you might think and even if there were, would it be right to ride rough shod over anyone who didn't agree with you implicitly? And a note on third party votes, especially in elections this tight; are you FUCKING KIDDING ME? That is some of the most self-serving behavior I've witnessed. You aren't voting for the candidate you like, or the candidate that makes you feel good about yourself, you are voting for the constitution as you'd like to see it carried out. Of the men who voted for Jill Stein from a self-righteous, self-serving platform, I'd like to hand them each a coat hanger and a bottle of ether and tell them to read up on abortions because abortions don't stop, women die. That is a measurable fact. We don't get to blame the religious right; there is nothing invalid about their feelings and beliefs and that we don't know and recognize this is a good part of our downfall.
In essence, we don't listen because we don't believe we have to.
I am biding my time. I am waiting for the old white men to age out of the system (read: die of old age). What's coming next is different but not so different we can sit back and breathe great sighs of relief. It can only be different if we recognize who all the players are, why they vote the way they do, and find a way to compromise without making anybody wrong. I realize that's a Utopian view but it's something to strive for, peace, love, and understanding, right? There's a lot more power in that then you might think. You don't have to agree to understand.
My best friend and I have opposing views one, of which is enormous. Neither of us are wrong but if we made each other wrong the relationship would suffer and possibly die. I am a single issue voter; if you think you're going to have anything to say about what occurs in or outside my body you will NOT get my vote. She may not be a single issue voter (I never asked) but I suspect her feelings might be as strong as mine. On Wednesday morning she messaged me to see if I was OK. I cried for an hour over that because it genuinely recognized and respected the ground that I stand on.
Let's see if we can do that.
I do have a solution and I'm not alone. As hokey as it sounds, be the women that you want to see reflected in the people of your country. That starts by recognizing and accepting that Mr. Trump will take office and be OUR president in February, 2017. We don't really know what's going to happen but I'll tell you this, change happens in groundswell. Be part of the groundswell. Take a good hard look at your local politicians. Our next election is in two years, not four. Elizabeth, you will just miss being able to vote in that election but you can and should still involve yourself locally as much as is allowed.
Read up on current issues and foreign affairs. Educate yourselves so that you recognize untruths immediately from both parties. Do we really know if Secretary Clinton did something wrong enough to be kept from elected office? No. We don't. So the next time you accuse a Republican for not looking a little more closely at their candidate just remember and think about why we didn't know for sure.
Vote your conscience knowing the facts but do so with your eye on where your party needs to go. Think more about the big picture and how you want it to look than the smaller details although don't let go of those either, just be prepared to compromise.
Regardless of what's being said today, every vote does matter. Just under half our country chose not to vote this term. I expected record numbers and was sorely disappointed. Always vote and vote informed. I have not and for that I'm truly sorry which brings me to the last of this.
Elizabeth and Lucia, I cannot tell you it's going to be OK because I no longer know what OK means or looks like. I didn't stop crying until yesterday toward the end of the day and I don't think I'm quite through. What I want you to know is how sorry I am. I've already told Elizabeth that I'm sorry we fucked it up so badly and I am. I'm embarrassed and sad in places I'd forgotten I had. I wish I'd been more willing to speak up. I wish I'd read more. I wish I'd been willing to risk being beaten up for my beliefs. My most instinctive impulse is to shield you from the truth but I can't do that. I can only tell you from my generation to yours just how sorry I am. I believe that if we are willing to look at our mistakes, to look at where we missed the mark (that's the literal definition of 'to sin') we can shift our way of being such that we have dramatically different results. That means I get to be kind to my self-righteous, pretentious left wing friends and still say what I think is right or wrong. I wrote to Lucia last night, after a trophy generation post that if we didn't look at our own dirt, our standing legs would be awfully shaky and I think that epitomizes our party.
Notice I haven't spent much time talking about the right wing? I can't affect the right wing, only the left. That's a very hard thing to remember because it is ingrained in our culture to point outward in blame. It's useless though and not particularly nice.
I love you both so much it hurts. The is from your brother. Listen carefully.