To My Dear Little Daughter,
You, my spunky girl, are the best person I know. You are unwaveringly nice. It has never, for one moment, occurred to you to judge anyone based on anything other than their kindness. Your world is limitless – it’s incredible. Being 3-1/2 is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.
I know the world, and not just your doting parents, will sculpt and form you, as you grow, which is why my great hope is for you to live in the most just, accepting, generous, and intelligent realm possible.
So, today, I am just so profoundly sorry for this box of evil spirits that my country has loosed upon our world this week.
You know that you are American (and Australian, of course). What you know about America is that you love visiting your adoring family. You know that you get to eat a lot of hot dogs, and something called “nachos,” that you’ve never even heard of before. People are effusive towards you, you get gifts, and you always have the most incredible adventures.
I have to tell you, kiddo, that even though I’ve lived a bit more life than you, and have seen a lot more of America, that my perception of our country has always been pretty optimistic, too. Aside from two years in New York, I have always been a “Blue” in the reddest of “Red” states. John McCain was my Congressman. Then Newt Gingrich. Then Marco Rubio. I’ve known quite well the Religious Right. When I was in college, the KKK marched a block from my campus. My own father was an atheist with a PhD who, inexplicably, loved nothing more than a good riling up from his radio pal, Rush Limbaugh. Yet, despite some serious ideological differences, I always had this feeling that the people of America – the vast majority of them, anyway – had big hearts and an inherent sense of kindness. Blues and Reds might disagree on many things, but we could mostly get along, and there was a cultural thread of decency that knitted us together.
My girl. I am so sorry, but I have somehow gotten things wrong. Hence, the first President you will be able to remember is not the graceful, diplomatic Obama of your toddler years. It’s not, though it brings me to tears to say this, a woman who dedicated her life to people like you – children and girls. A woman who I believe to my very core is so much more good than not. Instead, America has risen to the highest literal and symbolic office in the world, a man who would judge you by your looks, on a scale of 1-10. A man who thinks it’s just “guy stuff” to grab your genitals, as if he owns them, not you. A man who thinks your biological functions are disgusting. You, my perfect little person, are nothing but flawed, in his eyes.
This election is historic. Maybe, when you’re old enough to learn about 2016, you’ll have some questions about where your mother stood. These are the things I’d want you to know:
- I have been sickened by the words we’ve heard Donald Trump say about women, immigrants, refugees, the disabled, and minorities. His values are so far from the values I carry, and those that I would wish for you.
- I would not, to my last breath on this Earth, cast a vote for a person who would strip away health care, reproductive rights, or the rights of our gay friends to marry.
- I believe in science. Climate change is real. Vaccines save lives.
- I cried big, sloppy tears when I cast my vote for America’s first female President. Those tears were for you, and for me, and for every warrior woman and girl we’ve ever known. And, for every man and young boy, too – they also need to see an amazing woman in the highest office, at least as much as we do.
- Please know that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. That may go down as an historical footnote, nearly forgotten by the time you’re old enough to understand this, but I need you to know that there were more people in the United States who rejected hate and ignorance than who supported it.
- I cast my vote, and I spoke my truth to my friends, but I could have done so much more. Remember that. In your life, when you see something that you know so fundamentally in your heart and mind to be wrong, you will never regret doing more to fight for what’s right. You will only regret your silence and inaction.
My best girl, I need you to understand that I can never stop being American, and I’ve always carried a quiet hope that one day it would be your home, too. Today, that feels like a distant dream. Today, I am angry, and sad, and for the first time in my life, pessimistic. I only hope that when you’re old enough to read this, society will be on the other end of this vile pendulum swing, and that the memory of Trump and his ilk will just be a strange blip from your childhood.
No matter how history unfolds, I hope you’ll see that your mother and father have never wavered from seeking to uphold our family’s values – kindness, acceptance, respect, equality, peace, curiosity, and education. No one – not even a President – can ever take these things away.
With so much love,
Your adoring, angry (not at you!), heartbroken mother