We have a bedtime routine. We have dinner. I prepare Javi's bottle while Sean puts him in PJs. I get his room ready; turn on his sound machine, start up his humidifier, turn off the lights. Sean gives him his bottle in the living room with the lights and TV off. I wash the bottles from the day and when he's finished with his bottle Sean walks him over to me while he holds "Frank" a stuffed dachshund from Ikea and I give him a kiss and whisper "goodnight". Last Tuesday night, I added "when you wake up you're going to have a woman president".
Election night in America is my Superbowl. We had an early dinner, put Javi to bed, had to run an errand for Sean's mom and came home to watch the results come in. I fully expected a similar experience to that of 2008 and 2012, but as we all know by now, the states that had previously been blue, turned red on November 8th. As 11PM neared (the time I was positive it would be called because this was just "in the bag") it became very clear to me that the night was going into the morning. Considering we have a 13 month old (and the fact that I wake up at 4:25AM for work) I debated going to bed but ultimately decided I couldn't and my brain wouldn't let me. So I watched all night, until my alarm went off for work and until what I viewed as the worst possible outcome became a reality. And it hit me hard. I cannot express with words how much I am against this new president-elect.
I didn't realize how much I loved this country until I was 15. I don't have many memories of the country or world outside of my life and family before that age. I remember "I did not have sex with that woman" and "if it doesn't fit, you must acquit". That's it. Call me self-centered. But I turned 15, the day before 9/11. The 9/11. And on that day, and all the days after I realized how much I loved the United States of America and all that "being American" means. I made it a point to learn about the country and the government and world events and current affairs. For the first time I watched the DNC on the day Barack Obama spoke. I was hooked. I knew that my views leaned toward progressive thinking and at 18, I registered for the first time as a democrat. And I never looked back. In college, I donated what money I had toward the Obama campaign. I bought t-shirts and sweatshirts and signed petitions and donated my time. I saw Barack Obama speak in Boston, heard his story (in person), listened to what he wanted to do, heard his vision and I thought "This is why America is so great" -- because we have people like this.
*Spoiler alert* -- I've succeeded in this America. If I had to check off boxes of accomplishments I've achieved -- my boxes would be full, and then some. I also acknowledge many people do not succeed in this America. People are discriminated against. People are oppressed. People are angry. People feel unheard or they're poor or they've been abandoned by the people who are supposed to protect them. Or they are all of the above and then some. I just didn't think the majority of America felt this way. Surely, that's a mistake? Me, over here in my liberal bubble in the Northeast just doesn't understand. Politics, I understand. I understand the electoral college. I understand democracy. I understand he won by the numbers. I refuse to force myself to think that the majority of Americans don't care that people are discriminated against, oppressed, or unheard. Because that's just not true. We are intelligent and compassionate individuals. We represent the beacon of hope. Freedom. Bravery. Courage. Doing the right thing. Leading the way. Setting an example. We the People. We're stronger together. Surely, we didn't just turn on each other? It seems a little bit like we did.
I don't want Javi to grow up in an America that chooses hate. One that builds up walls. One that turns its back on neighbors. One that fights people who are different. An America that chooses inequality. And racism and xenophobia. I don't want Javi to grow up watching a president who thinks the people he leads are beneath him. A person who takes rights away, treats women as property and has little to no experience for the very position he holds. I don't want Javi to hear comments that aren't politically correct. *Spoiler* I happen to like when people are politically correct. You know what politically correct means? Language, policies and measures that are intended not to offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society. I want that. I want kindness and compassion. Empathy and understanding. Fairness and equality. I want Javi to know that the color of his skin, and his maleness gave him an automatic boost at the start line of life. I want him to know that if you work really hard you can achieve what you want. That you are never entitled to anything and things are not just given to you. I want Javi to know that bullies don't win, money isn't power and that people are still good at heart.
It's taken 5 days of conversations with family and friends to get to the point of tolerance (and I really hate that word). It's going to happen. The respect I have for the country we live in, tells me it's going to happen. Come January, this will be reality and rioting in the streets or staying in bed and crying isn't changing it. I'm slowly moving toward acceptance. So what else is there to do?
I can still raise Javi with all the values and morals I know to be right.
I can get active behind causes I believe in and fight against ones that are wrong.
I can vote at midterm elections.
I can do everything within my means to make sure this president only lasts one term.
I can still love this country even if I'm disappointed.
Here's to 2020. Elizabeth Warren -- I'm looking at you.