Like most of America, I'm watching the election results come in. Like most of America, my friends were divided in their support of the candidates. Like most of America, I hope for a bright future for our country.
So, here we are.
I don't quite know what to say, so bear with me. This fall has been like living in "The Twilight Zone." I have friends on both sides of the aisle and all over the country. My friends in California have had their lives threatened for daring to be black in the Target parking lot, walking to their cars. My friends in Tennessee have had their beautiful brown children (U.S. citizens, all of them) ask if they have to leave if Trump becomes president. My friends in Illinois have had to have talks with their little girls about what to do if a boy tries to grab them by their private parts.
My children asked me who I was voting for. I usually don't tell anyone who I vote for, but I did tell them that I would never vote for Donald Trump. My house has a strict no-hate policy and he violates that code.
But I have many family members who voted for him. Oh, they won't say that they voted for him. It feels too disgusting to say. So, instead, they say, "I voted with my party." I voted with my party.
Let's talk about that party for a minute. I was born and raised as a Republican. I was taught that being a Republican meant that I thought that the government should stay out of my life as much as possible. I'm still on board with that. I want to do my thing with little government reach. But, to me, that's no longer what being a Republican means.
Now, it seems that being a Republican means that you vote on a single issue. Like abortion or repealing Obamacare entirely (even though you benefit from it, with your preexisting conditions). Now, thanks to Trump's candidacy, it also means that you vilify anyone across the aisle and you don't trust anyone who looks or acts or prays in a different way from you. Being a Republican now means that you can wear the "Grand Old Party" title on your sleeve to justify open racism, sexism, hatred, and violence. Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed.
And where does this leave me? I'm a woman without party. I don't recognize Trump's behavior as anything I would want my children to see. I certainly don't identify with it. I didn't let my children watch the debates for fear of what crude and disgusting language I was going to hear. This isn't the America I imagined.
Thanks to Hamilton, I was reminded that, when our nation was founded, whoever got the most votes was the President. Whoever came in second was Vice President. And they had to work it out. (Thanks a lot, Thomas Jefferson, for creating the two-party system.) My point is, our founding fathers warned against a two-party system, knowing that it would cause the nation to divide down party lines. That's exactly where we are, and where we have been for many years.
So, what do we do? Where do we go from here? No matter who ends up as the President/Vice President-elect, we have a divided nation. Here's my proposal: whoever wins should give their opponent a cabinet position. No matter how contentious the election process is, we must find a way to work together. Think about how different the world would look if Gore or Kerry had served in Bush's White House, or McCain or Romney in Obama's. Right now, we have no one working together. On anything.
I mean, poor Merrick Garland has been stuck in Supreme Court nomination-land for months. And our Supreme Court is trying to function one member short, which has meant that they have been tied in several decisions. That entire branch of the government isn't able to function because the Republican elected officials didn't do their job. Refused to do their job. That's unacceptable.
Not that any of us need a lesson in how our government is supposed to function, but I feel like we might need a reminder that we are supposed to have a system of checks and balances for a reason. No one branch should be able to wield too much power. That's where things have gotten out of hand. Both Obama and Bush have used their Presidential power to skirt around a dysfunctional House and Senate, both of which have refused to cooperate (on both sides, Democrats and Republicans). No one is working together.
It's like I'm looking at my seven-year-old who takes his ball and goes home when the game doesn't go the way he wants it to. And what do I tell my seven-year-old? "Hey! That's not how this works. You get back out there and work it out. Figure it out together."
So, since I can't tell that to anyone in Washington who will listen (unless this goes viral and that's highly unlikely), here's what I will do: I'll keep living my life. I will keep trying to shine a light into the darkness. I will keep teaching my kids that acting with love and empathy and kindness is always the right choice. And I'll add that listening and working together are sometimes more important than being right. I'll keep encouraging them to speak up when they see something wrong and keep lifting up others around them. "Let your light so shine before men, that they might see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Yes, shine on. Shine on.
And I stand behind what I said to them at the dinner table tonight, "No matter who wins, we will respect the office of the President. We are all Americans. We are all neighbors. We may disagree about things, but we'll listen with an open heart and remember to love each other. Because love always wins. Always." Yes, I'm standing by that. Love so strongly and so brightly that darkness can't dare to enter. Be a light. I dare you. Shine on.