“Remember this moment.” I said to my children.
“Someday, someone will tell you that feminism is no longer necessary. That men and women are equal in society. But right now, you can see that’s not true. Because more than 50 million Americans have just legally declared themselves willing to be led by Donald Trump, even though he is terrible and dangerous and unqualified in every way, rather than a woman, even though she may be the most qualified candidate for political office in all of human history.”
We were huddled together against the chill and the hatred, watching the election returns. The mood had been jovial, if a little manic, but slowly turned to terror and shock. I couldn’t stop shaking and felt nauseous. Robert tried to argue that it wasn’t over yet, but I knew it was. None of us understood it, but we saw it.
Ithilien put his hand to my face. “Shh, Mommy, it’s okay. He won’t win the whole race.”
“Yes he will,” I said, my eyes stinging, “this is the whole race. It’s over.” Ithilien curled his lip as tears formed in his eyes.
“Maybe it’s just a mistake.” Númenor offered, his fists tight with anger and incomprehension. “It must be wrong.”
But we knew.
I started to cry.
What went wrong? What happened? Could we have prevented this? Would it have made a difference if we had donated more money? If we had been brave enough to put up a yard sign? If we had flown to Florida to GOTV, would that have been enough?
I suspect not.
I think, in my heart of hearts, that what we saw tonight was an ugly reminder of how much we have left to grow as a society. A frightening harbinger of a new era of hate and horror, certainly, but mostly a reflection of how hateful and horrible our past and has made our present.
I have said that America isn’t great. That there’s still so much left to be done. I wish I hadn’t been shown I was right tonight– I honestly thought we were ready for a female president. I know I was.
Hillary Clinton lost tonight. So did tolerance, love, peace, fairness, understanding, rationality, and the way forward.
Right now I don’t know if we can find those things again. But I’m going to keep looking. I’m going to keep raising children who expect those things and who will help foster them. I’m going to keep looking for the light ahead, the distant goal, that “greatness,” and strive for it with my whole being.
Just as I would have if the election had gone the way we expected.