Yesterday I took my daughter with me to vote. She held my hand as we colored the circle by Hillary Clinton’s name together. As bedtime approached, I promised to wake her up so she could watch if Clinton won.
This morning I got out of bed at 5:30 and wondered what on earth I would say to her when she woke up.
She came downstairs a couple hours later. We told her about the election results; then we all stared blankly at the TV for a bit. (Cartoons, not the news. Anything but the news.) As we went back upstairs to get ready for school, I told her, “I’m sorry Hillary didn’t win.”
Then I asked if she understood what this meant. She said just two words.
I asked if she knew what else it meant that Trump had won, and she said, “He’s going to destroy the world?”
I didn’t know what to say.
To the best of my knowledge, she didn’t hear this kind of thing from my wife or me. Either she picked it up somewhere else, or she came to it entirely on her own. Either way, my 6-year-old is now afraid for the future of the world.
Thanks for that, America.
I didn’t have the heart to tell my daughter that Clinton appears to have won the popular vote by a narrow margin, but that we have this inane, anachronistic system called the Electoral College which has thwarted democracy now for the second time in a still-young century.
I can only expose my daughter to one cruel, absurd injustice at a time.
So instead, we sat down on her bed, and I tried to explain how not everyone who voted for Trump is a bully or a racist. How some people voted for him because they were scared or angry about the way they thought the country was going.
But because Donald Trump bullies women, minorities, gays, and immigrants—there are some people now, I told her, who will think it’s OK for them to do the same. And that’s why it’s more important than ever for us to stand up to bullies, to stand up for those who are being bullied, to speak out when we see someone being mistreated.
I told her that Donald Trump has a lot of power now—a lot more than I’d ever want a man like him to have. But he doesn’t have absolute power. We still have the power to choose how we respond.
I said this partly to encourage her, partly in the hopes of convincing myself.
Then I held her, while wondering out how the hell to get on with pretending this is an ordinary day. Normally at this point, I’d be getting her school uniform ready while coaxing her out of bed. Today, I couldn’t move.
After a few moments of just sitting together, holding onto each other, she quietly got up, went to her closet, and picked out her uniform.
Our country is not worthy of her.