It’s Election Day, and here is a picture of me voting in 2008 for the first black candidate for President of the United States. (Note to self: your daughter is right, you have had the same glasses for years and you need to get new ones. Maybe that’s why things look blurry around this election.) I wrote about my excitement after he was elected. My hope for our future.
Today I will vote again for yet another first—the first female president. But that happy face is not what I wear today.
I’m terrified that there will be violence. I am sad about the friends and family whom I will never see in the same way again. I am humbled to realize that I didn’t know what so many of my fellow Americans were thinking, and that now that I know, I feel I must do something about it. So the unbridled joy and innocence I felt on Election Day eight years ago isn’t with me today.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the woman deserves it. I think the double standard she is held to is deplorable (yep, I chose that word on purpose). So Bush could put his e-mails on a private server and then say he lost 22 million of them after they were subpoenaed, and not a peep from anyone? Let’s leave all that bitterness aside; it serves no purpose. It just makes me crazy.
But the problem is that I’m not excited for the future.
Some memories from the past months come to mind.
I was in Georgia recently, speaking to a waitress who holds down two other jobs (yep, three jobs), and is raising her three kids as a single mom. Here is our conversation:
“You think I’m stupid, right?”
“No, I think you haven’t taken the time to be informed with accurate information, and so you are ill-informed.”
“I have three jobs and work sixty hours a week. I am running around with my three children. I don’t have cable at home. I don’t have Internet at home. Just when and how do you expect me to become educated?”
I started to cry; I was so ashamed of my pomposity. I told her I was sorry. She was right and I was wrong. I am so out of touch with my country’s citizen’s experiences.
Then, at the mani-pedi place in Dennis, Massachusetts this past weekend, I was seated next to two high-school juniors. They were friendly and told me proudly they were both AP students. As in Advanced Placement. Here is our conversation:
“Let’s play a game. I’ll ask you ten questions, and I will give you ten dollars for every correct answer you give me. Maybe I’ll be paying for your pedicure. You in?”
They looked at each other and grinned.
“Name the two men running for Vice President in this election.”
They looked at each other and laughed out loud. Not a funny haha laugh. An uncomfortable laugh.
“We don’t know, but it’s not our fault. Last year a teacher said something about Trump and a mother called in and now the teachers aren’t allowed to talk about the election. So they aren’t teaching us about it.”
First of all, I remember the mock debates we did in high school and how much I learned about what the candidates stood for. Seriously? Have we sunk so far that the debate that has owned the airwaves for 18 months is ignored in school?
“So … because you aren’t learning it in high school, you shouldn’t know it?”
“How many senators are there in the United States Senate?”
“Four! I’m sure of that.”
“The Senate in Washington DC. How many in the Senate?”
“If it’s not four, I don’t know.”
“Okay, I will help you. Each state gets two. How many?”
And so it went. My money was safe. Our country’s future is not.
The last memory from the past months is the one haunts me the worst. A friend said she didn’t want the government to take away the inheritance she planned on leaving her kids, so that was driving her vote. That’s all she talked about regarding the election. Not fear of what a loose cannon like Trump would do? Nothing else. Her money. Protecting her money. I didn’t know what to say.
A client said to me that she thinks people are voting solely on their self-interest, and not in the interest of their position in a global community. And I know she is right. And, I know that is what is wrong with this very dismal picture.
So there is no joy for me today in pushing the lever for the first female president. It’s not going to be okay tomorrow, even if she wins. It’s never going to be okay again unless we wake up and bring back the middle class, and the very wealthiest among us pay their fair share, and we have a congress made up of people who will cross the aisle and get things done. And, that those in government take better care of the money that is in our coffers, and that obstructionism is met with rejection by every American. Fight it out. Yell and scream. But not governing until your party is back in power is not an option.
Self-interest will be the downfall of our republic. I for one will remember that the next time I make a decision on behalf of my company and myself. I have already made some changes at Blue Shoe Strategy. I intend to make even more.
Vote today, Freesia readers. Please vote, and from my side of the fence, may the best woman win. If you sit on the other side of the fence, I do hope you vote too. I want to know what my country wants for the direction of our future so I know what I’m up against.
God Bless America. And, whether it’s great or not is not is not in the hands of those leading. It’s in the hands of those voting.