Dear Kids, This is Why #imwithher

Dear Kids,

Tomorrow you will come with me to cast my vote in the 2016 presidential election. I wanted to share with you who I voted for, and why. As you probably already know, I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I want to share with you a little bit of context about how I came to my choice, and what this election cycle has reinforced for me. These are just some of the things I hope you will consider when it comes time for you to cast your votes in the next decade.

1. I am not voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman.

This is important. I need you to understand just like I would hope that you wouldn’t vote for someone because they are a man. Each candidate’s gender was not a deciding factor in my choice. However, it would be a disservice if I didn’t say candidly that the idea that for the first time ever, we have a woman at the head of a major party ticket is a big deal for our country and for each of you.

This particular election has proven nearly all of the things that women have felt for years in the workplace, in society as a whole, but have felt unable to give voice to it. Here, simply by finally having a woman on the ticket, she has stepped up to absorb publicly all of the stuff that women have faced privately for years. That we don’t have the stamina for the job. We are weak. That while other men aggressively compete for leadership roles and are praised for doing so, we are perceived as being sneaky power hungry bitches when we try to do the same. That people focus on things like the sound of our voice, and whether or not they like us, rather than the content of what we are trying to say. I’m not voting for her because she is a woman, but to say that it doesn’t matter that this race has been between a man and woman is to simply deny reality. This conversation has been simmering in America for years. I am grateful to Hillary Clinton for bringing it into the light.

2. I am voting based on the issues.

You need to do your research. I researched where the candidates stood on different issues. Regardless of questions of temperament and capacity to even handle the job, I made my final call based on an issue of singular importance to me: gun control. More specifically, I looked carefully at who the National Rifle Association is supporting. Then I backed the other guy (or girl as it stands). When I saw the NRA stand up and shake Donald Trump’s hand and say to America that he was their guy, this made my decision for me. If supporting him meant supporting them, I walked. Do your homework. Know the facts and kick the tires on candidates before you make a final call. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Also, this one seems obvious — but don’t touch anyone’s pussy without permission.

I am voting tomorrow against the notion that women are property for the taking. It bothers me not at all that Donald Trump has been married three times or that his wife used to be a nude model. Let’s be real with each other. It’s 2016, not 1916. I think we can move on. I don’t care if Bill Clinton cheated on his wife. I genuinely do not care. I do care about the messages we send people when we speak openly about being able to grope and grab women whenever we want. It presumes a sort of ownership, a smallness to women. That even if we stand up and report this, no one will believe us. They will dismiss us as liars, liars who wouldn’t even be pretty enough for a pussy grab. We are disposable, expendable, unlikeable, and weak.

4. Mean people suck, and as a general rule should not be rewarded for their overall shittiness.

I want to tell you guys a story about how once there was this really mean bully who constantly picked on people’s bodies and race and religion and their faces. Every single time someone challenged him on a point of substance, he belittled them. He said that they asked hard questions because they had their period, he made fun of their disability, declared their judgement compromised because of their heritage, made sweeping generalizations about Mexicans or blacks or everyone. He took Hillary’s face and stuck it inside a Jewish star and placed it on top of a pile of money. He claimed that all Black people are impoverished and live in inner cities. He said that all Muslims are terrorists. Also, many Mexicans are rapists. And, as most of us know, the Jews are big crooked deal makers. Also, women are ugly, and weak. And they all have their period.

Guys like this are not presidential candidates. They are teachable moments. They are the after school special. They are the cautionary tales we teach you kids about how if you act like a dick like this guy, bad karma will catch up to you. You will come in last. Guys like this are not supposed to win the primary and certainly not the nomination by lying and being a dick. Guys like this are not supposed to keep the race this close. It’s just wrong and it shouldn’t be this way. We are grownups. We should be able to disagree on specific policies without belittling and humiliating our opponents. Or threatening to jail them. Jesus — not only is this guy a prick, but he represents a major threat to the most basic premise our Democracy is built upon, that we can openly criticize and disagree with each other.

5. Country matters more than party. We aren’t as different as we seem.

In all of the ugliness of this election, this has been a lone bright spot. A large amount of people in intelligence, former presidents, Republicans and Democrats alike are supporting Hillary Clinton for president because she is the responsible choice. Because Donald Trump is not fit to be president. This is clear, and even if they know there will be specific policies where they will not agree with her, it is more important to pick a person who doesn’t necessarily think like you, but is willing to listen and engage with patience and a high level of critical thinking. In your life, surround yourself with people who force you to think more deeply about your own views. Find people to challenge you. Democracy will be better for it.

6. Also, I’m voting for her because of this.

I was a sophomore in high school when Hillary’s husband Bill first ran for president. He was unlike anything I had remembered in modern politics. But she stuck out too, because she was unlike any first lady we’d ever had. She had her own thriving legal practice and career. She was accomplished in her own right. She wasn’t there to redecorate the red room of the White House and she made no apologies for that, or for the women she’d never been: “I supposed I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas.” It was the moment that every man in America who may have felt that his traditional gender stratified household was already starting to come apart at the seams, turned and ran. Men were terrified of her because she was letting them know it was going to be different now. It already was. Women too I think were terrified of her — afraid of her tapping into stuff they should’ve done. Career paths they wondered if they should’ve chosen, words they felt inside but were afraid to echo for fear that they might threaten the delicate eco system that comprised America’s fragile hetero relationships and marriages.

Right from the start, she turned us upside down.

I loved it. I loved how unapologetically smart she was. She was a breath of fresh air.

In some ways, she still is.

I’ve been writing this so long, that it’s already Tuesday now. I guess there’s a lesson there. Before you know it, tomorrow becomes today.

Where will you be when you cast that first vote? When you realize how precious and fragile our democracy really is? Where will you be, when you realize how strong and courageous you really are? Maybe you’ll be dreaming of your future and what it holds. At least that’s what I’m doing tonight. I’m dreaming of your futures, I’m holding space in my heart and on the ballot for them.

Many hours from now, long after we’ve voted, I’m going to shut off all of the news and climb into bed with a six hour long BBC adaptation of one of my most favorite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice. I guess I fell in love with strong women early on. But Elizabeth Bennet is the original. Long before Hillary, she was my rallying cry. She was the one that made me unafraid to be vocal, to speak my mind, to write my heart, to own all of my complexities be damned the expectations of how or who I or you or anyone is supposed to be. She taught me that nothing in life should be expected. Everything must be earned.

With Elizabeth as her heroine, Austen writes, “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.”

With every attempt to intimidate me. To define me. To pigeon hole me. To claim me. To belittle me.

And still I rise.