Authors Note: After two years of not blogging, the 2016 election has motivated me to start anew.
As soon as my arm breached the comforter, my puppy dog pounced, as she does every morning, wagging her tail, licking my face and welcoming me to another day of chasing balls, earning treats and having her tummy scratched. Oh, to be a border collie.
I started November 8th anticipating that it would be an historic day capped with a celebration. I ended it feeling as if a member of my family had died. Dow Futures were already down over 700 points and I was sure that my retirement account was about to take a body blow from which it would never recover. At least not in my lifetime.
The fact that Wall Street is not experiencing a massive bloodletting on the morning after is some consolation, but not enough.
By nature, I’m an optimist. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t have devoted 36 years of my life – my entire career – to achieving gender equality and economic justice for women. Tuesday, I was hoping for confirmation that we had, finally, come a long way. What I learned instead, was that we still have a long way to go; that we are not one nation, indivisible.
We are a divided nation, looking at the world from opposite sides of the abyss. When Red America says they want to “take our country back.” Blue America hears “take our country backward.” Take our country back to those days when women and brown people and LGBTQ people and disabled people knew their place and didn’t challenge the power structure that white men considered their birthright. Back to the days when American manufacturers blithely polluted our soil, our water and our air with impunity. Back to the days when women died at the hands of back alley abortionists, black men were lynched simply for being black, and a good education was a privilege reserved for the wealthy.
After running the most divisive campaign in my lifetime and perhaps in history, Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech, promised to be the President of everybody. And just like that, we’re supposed to be reassured? You’ll forgive my skepticism.
If you are truly about change, Mr. Trump, the best way to prove it will be: 1) to reassure us that you were “being sarcastic” (or whatever you call your alleged sense of humor) when you suggested that you would appoint a special prosecutor to jail your opponent; and 2) to avoid filling your cabinet with sycophantic Republican retreads like Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, and alt-right, bomb-throwing conspiracy theorists like Steve Bannon.
Mr. Trump, Blue America is terrified of you because you exhibit no respect for American institutions, for science, or for Americans who dare to expose your hypocrisies or criticize your motives. Blue Americans are terrified because we know that America is great, not because we build walls, but because we open doors.
The Democratic Party needs to unite in a common goal to be a vocal, organized and loyal opposition; loyal to the institutions and values that made our country great. But, Mr. Trump, we owe you no loyalty. That is something you must earn. As Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, we need to be open-minded and give you a chance to prove yourself.
Because I’m an optimist, I’ll give you that chance.
Don’t blow it.