*Warning: Semi-liberal post. If you’re offended by these opinions, I advise you don’t read this post*
I’ve been interested in politics since I was a little girl. I can’t remember how, or what exactly sparked my interest, but I remember writing a history paper in 7th grade about JFK. I did TONS of research on the young president who came from a family of wealth and privilege. Even then, I wasn’t ignorant to his extra marital affairs but instead focused on his legacy; how a young, Catholic senator from Massachusetts captivated our nation.
This history/political science interest continued on to high school, where I had a history teacher named Ms. Feinberg. Whether she knows this or not, she had an incredible impact on how and why I think the way I do. She graduated from Columbia undergrad and Stanford graduate school. She wasn’t married, had frizzy hair, and didn’t dress all that well. And she was the first female role model I had who’d put her education first. Above getting married, her looks, etc. And while I don’t think this was ever her intention, her liberal rhetoric poured over into the way she taught. I thought she was incredibly smart, and I challenged myself to be more like her.
I went on to be a Political Science minor in college, and was fortunate enough to be going to school in Colorado in 2008; a swing state that has a caucus nomination process. The night I went to caucus was one of the most important and rewarding experiences of my life as an American citizen. I went to the local elementary school where I sat in a classroom with about 35 other voters. When the facilitator asked us to raise our hands for who we were nominating for the Democratic party, about 12 people raised their for Hillary Clinton, and 23 or so raised their hands for Barack Obama.
I raised my hand for Barack Obama.
A couple of weeks earlier, Obama held a rally at the University of Denver on a weekday morning. A classmate and I left at 6:30 am, made our way down to Denver, and arrived at 7:30 am to see 20,000 people lined up outside the DU Hockey Arena. 20,000 people. The arena could only hold 9,000. Some people left, but we heard muffling of people going onto the soccer field where he would address those who wouldn’t be able to get in. We beelined for the soccer field, and were some of the first ones on the field.
He came out with Caroline Kennedy by his side, and I felt a moment where life had come full circle. From that braces and pimpley preteen who was infatuated with this woman’s father to then, a woman in college attending a political rally.
He spoke about change. He spoke about hope. He was charismatic, kind, warm, and smart. It felt like everything he was saying I was looking for. My vote was a no brainer.
Flash forward 8 years, to Election Day 2016.
Maybe I’ll blame the fact that I chose to write my first history paper on a democrat, or maybe I’ll blame Ms. Feinberg. Or the fact that I was born and raised in the most liberal city in the country. I even have republican parents! But I can’t help it. I am what you would classify as a liberal. I believe in women’s rights. I believe in equal pay. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe in gay marriage. I believe in civil rights. I believe in social welfare programs. I believe in universal healthcare. I believe that global warming is real. I want to protect our national parks. I am willing to pay my fair share of taxes and sacrifice part of my paycheck to protect and advance these initiatives. Because I believe we are all in this together. But I also want to say, that I support our troops, our veterans, and those who fight for our country. I think you can be “Republican” on some issues and “Democrat” on others. I’m not sure there isn’t anyone in this country who doesn’t think we need to make veteran affairs a top priority. So if that makes me by definition a liberal, then so be it.
I’m here to say, and I guess the point of this post, is that I am sad today. Sure, I am sad my party “lost.” I am sad that Congress is made up of a Republican Majority. I’m afraid these leaders will take away some of the rights I believe should be non-negotiable. But with that, I understand there are transitions of power. I know that “my party” isn’t always going to be in power.
What I am sad about most is there is a man in power, the leader of the free world, my, our, YOUR POTUS- a man who degrades women. Who mocks the disabled. I am sad we are transitioning from a dignified, respectable, and graceful president to a man who has shown little to no empathy or tolerance for those of different religions, cultures, and circumstances than his own.
About a month before the election I heard an interview with a republican couple from North Carolina. They were swing voters who were leaning towards Trump because of their religious values. What was making them swing and doubt their vote was Trump himself. The husband worked for an international company and did a lot of business overseas. He was embarrassed by Trump and was afraid of losing business if Trump became president. They spoke about the bible, and how God loves all of his children, no matter their immigration status. I’m sure they ended up voting for Trump, but for those reasons I can understand. They voted for him because the values they hold dear he supported. But they did not support his demeanor and candor.
I know that there are people who don’t agree with me on what I value. But then again, I don’t know them personally. I live in my liberal bubble. I only travel to the coasts, to big cities. I am amongst people who would fight for my right to be paid equally. I am amongst people who would fight for my right to get birth control. I don’t know people who are sick and tired of our government. Who feel like this isn’t their America. The people I know thought our government was working just fine under President Obama. Sure, they may not have been happy all the time, but I don’t know anyone who is happy about the man we are going to have in office for four years.
I know there are disgruntled Americans. I know they are out there. Because they have made their voices heard. I just want to know if they are proud of our new president’s demeanor? Of his temper? Of his Tweets?
Because I believe you can still respect a leader in power who you don’t see eye to eye with. You can still respect someone you don’t agree with. You can still be kind. You can still be graceful.
I’m hopeful. Because if we lose sight of hope, we have no dreams to hold on to.
My best friend sent me this quote, and it encapsulates everything I’m feeling today: “Loyalist to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”- Mark Twain.