Our Whole Messy America

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This has been a singular moment in American history. Never before has a presidential winner received so many popular votes. Never before has the defeated candidate received so many votes. The race was tight but fairly won. The American people have spoken in the most awesome tradition of how our system of government works. 

I celebrate because my candidate was victorious, but also because I believe in the deepest part of my soul that the United States of America won. I voted for character and decency because I am a mother and an educator. I know that our children are always watching and Donald Trump has been the worst role model that has ever before been supported by a considerable portion of the electorate. I do not care about my 401K or my personal finances as much as I worry about the messages that this vile man has been sending our young. He has incited divisions and fear in our society that threaten the very foundations of our country. He does not appear to actually care about our nation as much as he cares about himself. 

I have witnessed my Black friends fearing for their children under Trump’s presidency. I have watched the horrors endured by immigrants that even included separation from their children. I have heard the fear of my gay and lesbian friends as they worried that their hard gained rights might be pushed back into the darkness and misunderstanding of the past. I have seen how much more difficult the lives of Muslims have become during this administration. I have cringed at the number of times that Trump has called women with whom he disagrees with words like nasty, monsters, liars, and a host of other epithets that I do not wish to repeat. I have become angry at the ways in which Trump has manipulated the good and profound beliefs of Christians for his own benefits, pretending to be a man of God when every shred of evidence proves otherwise. I have shuddered at the lies, ignorance and fear tactics that he used to convince his followers that without him they will be doomed. 

The task ahead is very difficult. While Joe Biden insists that he will be a president for all Americans I sense that there will be many who reject his efforts to bind our wounds and bring us closer together. President Trump will no doubt spend the next many years spreading his gospel of fear and hate. It does not appear that he will go quietly as all other former presidents have done. It is unlikely that he will spend his post presidential years doing good works like Jimmy Carter. Those who know him well tell us that he is a one trick pony who is too old to change. 

It is important that we all strive to bring decency, decorum, cooperation, compassion back into our national life. We must demonstrate to our young that winning should be less of a goal than living a good and purposeful life. It is time that we once again embrace our differences as a strength of our nation, not something to be spurned. Our common goal should be to promote justice in every corner of the country. We can protect individual freedoms without smashing those of others. 

This is not a time for gloating. That is something that Donald Trump likes to do and we need to stop that. The people have spoken, but clearly the winning majority was slim. Joe Biden knows that and hopes to invite those who are disappointed into the huge tent that he sees as representing America. Those of us whose votes led to victory must demonstrate the character that we have wanted to see in our highest leaders. It would be a terrible thing if we descended into a war of maliciousness even as we claim to want to return to decorum and respect.

I deeply love this country, not just my version of it, but the whole glorious messy thing. We are a millions strong family. The world has mostly viewed us as people with good hearts, but of late that has been less obvious in some among us. It’s time we resoundingly reject hate and instead celebrate the remarkable diversity that brings so much vibrance and inventiveness into our lives. It’s time we honored one another by doing whatever it takes to defeat Covid-19 regardless of the sacrifices that we must make. It’s time we learned to actually listen to one another rather than rehearsing our debating points while someone is speaking. It’s time we ask ourselves how we want our children to see us.

As a woman I am thrilled that we will have the first female Vice President, a woman of Black and Asian heritage. This is historic and great and no doubt exactly what some of our Founding Fathers hoped would one day happen. I can almost see John Adams giving Abigail and little wink and saying, “See, they remembered the ladies.” I imagine John Lewis doing a little dance in heaven and enjoying that his freedom fighting days have led to this moment. This is a very good time. Our system has worked exactly as it was designed to do. 

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