The Third Third

Hillary Lost. But No One Stole our Hearts and Minds.

My girl lost.  And so did we.  I am bereft.  My friend Hillary was our chance to put an extraordinarily competent woman in the White House, a Ginger Rogers to Obama’s Fred Astaire.  A symbol of the vast potential women hold in their heads, their hearts, their homes and their communities.  A symbol of how far we’ve come — finally — in achieving equal rights (albeit without an equal rights amendment) and equal access to power.  A symbol for our children and our grandchildren.  The best shot we had if having a woman president was meant to be in my lifetime.  But she lost.  

I know there was a whole lot more at stake than electing a woman president, though — even a whole lot more than the specter of overturning Roe v. Wade or defunding the Affordable Care Act.  It’s a bit of a privilege, actually, to worry about discrete policies rather than about your personal safety, your economic security or your future in a country whose next leader has declared he doesn’t want you here. It’s also a bit of a fool’s errand.  History tells us — and this election bears it out — the pendulum always swings back;  we’re restless as a nation, we want change after eight years of an administration; and what one president or one Congress and, alas, even one Court can do, the next can un-do. Still, I’m very worried.  And stay-awake-at-night and wake-up-in-the-morning disturbed that our electorate has given Donald Trump and his nativist, authoritarian, sexist, misogynist, racist, bullying, narcissistic self a home in the White House.  What havoc he has already wrought in our apparently fragile democracy!

Hillary’s loss is very painful and will be, as she said, for a long time. Nevertheless, as I think about it — and believe me, I have thought of virtually nothing else since 2 a.m. Wednesday morning — it may, ironically, empower all of us who believed she was speaking for us to find our own voices again and make them stronger. I’ve talked with a lot of women over the last couple of days who wonder, like me,  what exactly it is that we are supposed to do. We acknowledge that we can have a good cry, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and go back to fighting the good fight for the things we care most about. Women always do that; we’ve had lots of practice.  But at this particular point in time,  at our age,  what impact can we have? What’s left for us to say?

For me, I think it is this:  Love does trump Hate.  Our instinctive response to Hillary’s devastating defeat, even as it unfolded, has been to reach out and connect to our loved ones, our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our friends — to hug and hold them if we could, to tell them we loved them, to listen to their fears, to share their grief and anger, to touch base an hour later, a day later, the next night,  next week.  To call, or write.  To be tender and kind and vulnerable.  To love.  I haven’t mastered the forgive my enemies part yet; I’m too raw, and too many of the victors online and in the media are still being ugly.   But I am intent on not being ugly, on not letting this stunning disappointment demean me or compromise my ideals, not push me down when it’s more important than ever to go high. (Oh, Michelle, what grace!) It’s going to be essential, I think, to model civility, and to practice and reward compassion, to think less in terms of achievements and more in terms of understanding and, yes, working together for a common good.  I am proud of and grateful for the organizations like Planned Parenthood, Texas Freedom Network, the ACLU, and who have recommitted to their work in the face of an irresponsible opposition and, while doing so, have offered us all a place at the table to double-down on their efforts.  Some of us will join them. (We are stronger together.) Others will assist refugees, or mentor children in underserved schools, foster or adopt abandoned kids, or roast turkeys for seniors living in poverty, or bake that cake for the lesbians’ wedding.  (Again, we are stronger together.)

Yes, Hillary lost the election, but no one stole our hearts and minds or our capacity to change the world — one kind, meaningful personal interaction at a time.
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