Devastation doesn’t quite sum it up.
I am in a state of disbelief, disappointment, and grave sadness after Donald Trump’s vision for America was chosen last night by a majority of my countrymen and -women. This is a hard, hard morning and is making so many of us reflect on what this means for our country, our children, our place in the world.
As I struggle to make sense of it all, I can’t help thinking about my two boys and how I must be a strong example to them in this painful, defining moment in American history. This morning, my husband and I spoke to our boys and told them that despite our hopes (and even our assurances) the night before, the election had not gone the way we had hoped and, indeed, expected.
Noah, our 7-year-old, burst into tears. “What will happen to my friends?,” he said.
“I’m scared they will be taken away. Lots of them come from other places.” We had to dig deep to show optimism despite our own fears– reassuring our sweet son about his beautiful group of friends and classmates whose families are Mexican, Moroccan, Muslim, African-American and whose shining faces represent such hope for the future.
We told him this will make us work harder and that we will not abandon his friends or our vision of a better future for all children. We told him that it is very hard to lose but one of the great things about America is our democracy and that we must accept the will of the people and its choice for a new leader. I believe this. I also believe that we must do more, become more involved in local politics, in national politics, in expressing our views and not simply allow the next 4 years to destroy every bit of progress we’ve made and still hope to make.
Our 4-year-old Mateo asked, “Why would someone vote for Donald Trump?”
I struggled to find an answer when I am still in such a state of disbelief that people could choose such a severely flawed candidate, lacking experience, and espousing policies of hatred and division. But his question reminds me that part of our work going forward is understanding “the why.” What explains our radically different views on the world and what has motivated them to vote for Trump? Is it racism? Is it economics? Is it fear? Is it one issue or many? Is it their educational background? Is it their daily experience, which must be so different from my own?
We tend to surround ourselves in real life and especially on social media by people who share our ideas. This election is a wake-up call that the reality of America is quite different than how I saw it, how most of the pollsters and pundits saw it, and that there is a huge disconnect between our differing visions of America.
The last thing I’ll mention is the one that I must remind myself of today and hold onto tightly. Over the weekend, when we were eagerly anticipating the week ahead and what we expected to be a historic, glass ceiling-shattering moment, we talked about our schedules.
“No school on Tuesday or Friday,” Noah told us.
“And we have the election on Tuesday — it’s a big week,” I said.
“Yes,” he agreed. “It is… And on Wednesday we have the Book Fair!”
In his 7-year-old wisdom, he saw that there is a day after, that the sun would still come up this morning and that the world would keep turning. Let’s not give up hope. We owe it to our children. Let’s call this Day 1 of our renewed commitment to doing more to make our vision of a more just, equal, and inclusive America a reality.