Many people have asked what they should tell their children about the 2016 election. There are all sorts of issues surrounding meanness and bullying and I’m not sure how I would handle that discussion with young children but here is what I will tell my older sons.
Your candidate lost. You feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under you and that you are on shaky ground. The 2016 campaign and election were not typical but nonetheless you have just witnessed the democratic process at work. And even if you don’t agree with or understand the result, the process itself is a thing of beauty. It worked in 2016 as it has for over 200 years and as it will continue to work because as divided as the populace of our country is, the state of our union is strong. The president-elect, our current president and the defeated candidate all spoke humbly, graciously and appropriately. Here are some takeaways:
1) The process is bigger than any one man or woman. Your father and his law firm joined thousands of others manning election hotlines to assure that the process was fair.
2) You don’t need to like or agree with the positions of the person holding office but you need to respect the office of the presidency.
3) Complacency is a luxury we can no longer afford. Everything we hold dear is on the table. Fight for it. If there are rights you want to preserve, fight for them. If there are political candidates you want to see in office, work for them. If there are people you know who need your protection, take on their cause. Let the sting of defeat motivate you.
4) We largely live in our own bubble buoyed by those around us who agree with what we say, on social media and in the real world. We need to get out and listen but listening is not enough, we need to really hear what people are saying. It’s easier to turn away. Don’t do it. Stay engaged. Be part of the conversation.
I believe that your father and I and our peers are of the generation that must die in the desert before reaching the promised land. There are just too many of us who cling to old notions about race and gender. I believe that you and your generation will make this world fairer, more color blind, and more accepting of the fact that gender should not define us or limit our destiny.
I do not despair because you my boys will get there.
Your proud mom