Between a busy schedule, a lengthy election coverage, and a complicated rush of unpleasant emotions, I failed to post a gratitude on Nov 8. Better late than never, right?
This was my sixth opportunity to vote for president.
I turned eighteen in May of 1996. My dad took me to our local precinct caucus where the attendance was so low I had the opportunity to be chosen as an alternate delegate. (My dad was chosen as a delegate.) I went with him to the Organizing Level Convention that year, completely awed by the fact that these were all normal, every day people choosing who would represent us in the presidential election. I helped elect Bill Clinton for his second term.
In 2000, I was almost finished with college. As with most 20-somethings, I radiated hope and idealism. I registered with the Green Party and I argued vehemently that the country would never see change unless we stepped out of the comfort zone of the standard and jaded two party system. I voted for Ralph Nader, helping George W. Bush secure his first term. Four years later, in 2004, I voted for John Kerry in a failed effort to oust Bush from office.
After eight years of frustration with war and increasing national debt; tax rules that benefited the wealthy while stripping away the livable wages of everyone else; educational policies that promised to widen the divide between the haves and the have-nots; incoherent speeches; and fumbling international relations, I was overjoyed to see an intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate individual running for office. I eagerly and hopefully voted for Barack Obama in 2008, not at all convinced that it was possible to overcome the underlying racism still present in our country so he could win.
I voted for Obama again in 2012, this time more confident in our ability to continue making progress toward the goals of equality, peace, and compassion. Despite an obstructionist congress, I’ve watched the economy improve and marriage equality become a reality. Groups of people who have previously hidden their true selves have begun to feel safe enough to live their truths. Important discussions about gun violence, health insurance, global warming and education reform gained traction.
This month, November of 2016, I voted proudly for Hillary Clinton. Her years of experience in national and global politics, her proven ability to communicate effectively with the leaders of other countries, her constant presence in the fight for women’s and children’s rights, and her unflappable calm in the face of personal and professional adversity made me confident that she would continue to steer our country toward the future. Everything about her opponent – the vitriolic way he talked to anyone who disagreed with him, his refusal to share a specific plan on any topic, his obvious disdain for women and people of color, the bald-faced lies he told on a regular basis, his lack of knowledge about the rest of the world, his established ties with various hate groups, and so on – seemed ludicrously unsuited to the office of President of the United States. I watched in horror as Donald Trump was declared the president-elect.
Six times, I have participated in the peaceful transition of power in our country. Six times, I have exercised my right and my responsibility as a U. S. citizen to speak up for the future I hope to see. Sometimes my chosen candidate has won, sometimes not. I will surely participate in many more elections in my lifetime, and I suspect the face of American politics is going to change dramatically in the coming years. I will stand strong in these winds of change – fighting always for love, compassion, and progress. I will strive to be a voice of reason and courage as we continue to be a great nation.
And one day, I will see the first woman president elected.