Politics was always a part of my childhood. My dad talked about it and engaged me in the conversations. I thank him for that… and for raising me as politically aware. Mike and I are trying to do the same thing for our children.
Admittedly, I’m disappointed in the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. From what I can tell, a little over half the voters in our country share in that sentiment. And, that’s okay. It’s part of the process and I accept that. I don’t have to like it. I’m not new to voting for the 2nd place candidate… it has happened before and I’m certain it will happen again.
But this time feels different. At least in my house. On Tuesday night, I watched a hopeful tween go to bed. She had visions of the first female POTUS. And that was exciting for her. On Wednesday morning, I watched a devastated young woman brought to tears because she understood the fear that some of her family and friends share over the election results.
I could only offer Abby a few bits of advice that morning:
- Be gracious. Even at the ripe old age of 12 and 13, kids can be passionate about elections. Especially about an election that played out so disgracefully* in social media. Although “her” candidate didn’t win, don’t be unkind to her friends and classmates who supported the other candidate. And if her friends and classmates are gloating, ignore it. Don’t engage.
- Remember how she feels. Right now. In this moment. Don’t let it consume her, but let it energize her. “Just think, in four years, you’ll be in high school. You’ll be sixteen. You can volunteer on a campaign for a candidate you believe in.”
- Vote. Embrace the process, in spite of its perceived flaws.**
- Never let the fear of failure stop you from dreaming and doing.
*I personally believe this was the most disgraceful election cycle in (at least) modern American history. And no side is blameless.
**I’m still not completely sure how I feel about the Electoral College. Do I have concerns that a person can become POTUS without the majority of voters choosing that person? Yes, I have concerns. Do I also believe the founders of our country had a method to their madness? Yes, I do. Does it seem strange that all other elections (that I’m aware of) are based on a majority vote? Uh huh. Am I totally convinced the system is broken? TBD.
At the end of the day, the one thing I really, truly, desperately want Abby (and all of us) to learn from this election is the danger of stereotypes. I honestly believe the hate that we have seen over the past two years or so can often be boiled down to stereotypes. Stereotypes based on color, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, education, financial status, etc. Stereotypes are ugly, ugly things. They wrongfully devalue entire groups of people. They incite fear and hate. They cause us, as a society, to do very ignorant and harmful things. Embrace our differences. Live, Learn and Love!