On November 8, I woke up at 6 a.m. to take my 7-year-old daughter to the polls with me. She has 11 more years before she can legally vote, but I wanted her to be able to say that she voted for Hillary Clinton nevertheless.
As we waited in line, she announced to the people standing around us, “Do you know who is voting for Hillary Clinton today? Barack Obama! Do you know who else is voting for Hillary today? Bernie Sanders! And so is Katy Perry!”
Inside the gym at our local public school, we took our spot in the portable privacy booth, and one by one, I let her fill in the bubbles on the ballot. Each time, before carefully blackening the little oval with the ball point pen, my daughter asked me, “Is this a woman?” There were only a few other women on the ballot, but the excitement of voting for the one we presumed would be our next president pretty much trumped all.
Twenty four hours later, after a harrowing night, I found myself struggling to find the right words to tell her that Hillary had lost the election. I could not bring myself to tell her that Donald Trump had won. It seemed like too much of a concession to a reality I was not yet ready to face myself.
We walked to school, feeling the need to be out among our community while we processed the election results. I think one of the problems this election made clear, is that we have come to surround ourselves with people who think like us, who share our values; we read only the news we want to hear; and we congratulate ourselves for being so enlightened and so liberal in our views.
It is easy to forget that half of the country does not think like us, does not share our views, does not ultimately experience America the way we do.
And yet, as we walked north up Hudson Street, we could take comfort in the fact that pretty much everyone we passed on the street — men and women going to work, or opening their stores for business, or taking their children to school — were as sad as we were.
As we paused at a crosswalk, my daughter asked me, “Is it hard to become president?” We talked about all of the things she could do. Find a cause she believes in and support it with all her might. Be kind and generous to everyone you encounter. Study hard in school and learn how our country works.
To my daughter, all of these things not only made sense, they seemed doable. Hillary opened that window of possibility in her mind and in the minds of little girls all over America. And that gives me hope.