Moon rising, November 12th. This made me think of Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” I hope that is true.
I went to bed on election night around 10:30, full of Tylenol PM and a deep foreboding about what was coming, even though it wasn’t yet official. There’s no ambiguity that Hillary Clinton was my candidate. I woke up at 5:30 and checked my phone in the dark of our room and saw the news. I went upstairs to see Matt, who had slept fitfully and moved to the couch around 3am. I knelt next to him in the pre-dawn blackness of our family room, glancing up to see the tree that I have watched and loved for so many years. I had tears streaming down my face when I woke him up.
I don’t know. He doesn’t know. None of us know. I woke Whit up and then had to go to work before Grace got up, so I left her a note. I’ve felt numb for days and have been unable to express the strength and amplitude of my reaction. It’s about losing the chance to have a woman president, and about the choice of a clearly sexist man over an incredibly qualified candidate who happened to be female, for sure. But it’s about more than that, too. This John Pavlovitz essay says it best, in my view: this loss is about believing in a certain kind of world and realizing that almost 50% of my country believes in a different world. It’s dark versus light, inclusion versus exclusion, being open versus being closed, fear versus faith.
Maybe I was naive. Clearly I was naive. I have said over and over that I don’t know if I am more heartbroken or more shocked to have been so entirely, completely out of touch. I had a festering anxiety about her winning that many around me said was ridiculous – the polls and data supported it being a done deal, I heard! But I couldn’t ignore my tummy rumble and my fear. Still, the basic fact of his win and her loss did shock me and does still. This is the world we live in?
I’ve read a lot since Tuesday, but my favorite pieces so far are three: the John Pavlovitz one, the letter Aaron Sorkin wrote to his daughter and wife after Trump’s win, and John Palfrey’s comments. I need to write something to Grace and Whit but my thoughts aren’t yet clear enough. I love what Sorkin says about his daughter’s first vote, in 2020. Grace will vote that year, too. And when she woke up to the news on Wednesday morning, one of her first reactions was dismay that she would not be able to vote for Hillary, and a woman, in 2020. I know the feeling. I share it. I also love Sorkin’s reflections on his grandfather, which reminded me of how vividly present my grandmothers have been during this election season for me.
My favorite piece on this post-election world are these comments John Palfrey, head of school at Andover, made on the morning of November 9th. I share his cautionary, anxious sense that there’s a place in the world where tolerance of intolerance has gone too far, and his assertion that that time is now. I love his exhortation that young people should consider lives of service and politics which reminded me of Hillary Clinton’s extraordinary, gracious concession speech in which she said “please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” Indeed. And how.
The only way forward, though I walk it with a heavy heart, is to model open-mindedness and compassion for Grace and Whit and to keep believing in a world that believes in those values. I believe we have to stand up to the kind of fearful anger that I worry will now rise up around America (already I’ve heard terrifying stories about behavior that horrifies me). Truthfully, I feel a little lost, a lot daunted, and extremely sad. But there’s no choice but to move forward in this new world.
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