This is election week in the United States. I’ve waited for this since November 8, 2016. And while I probably shouldn’t get political on my blog, I’m sure most of you are smart enough to figure out my political leanings anyway. I can’t ignore the impact our current administration has had on my spiritual well-being and for that of many of my friends. I can’t stay silent.
Election season always coincides with marathon season. In 2016, I ran my first Marine Corps Marathon, which runs through our nation’s capital. That was in October. I remember the pride I felt running up and down the National Mall. I was certain that we were about to elect our first female president. I cried when I cast my vote for Hillary, knowing that the glass ceiling had finally been shattered. Sigh.
Since running a Richmond Marathon race is so much a part of my life, I also ran the Richmond half marathon that year. That race was after the election. I was so pissed off every moment of that race that I ran a personal best. That time still stands.
I couldn’t believe what my country did. Despite Hillary Clinton winning the majority of the popular vote by over 3 million, by the magic and tragedy of our archaic electoral college, we ended up with Trump.
I wish I could say that I was pleasantly surprised by his transformation into a leader that was remarkably presidential. However, what we have had is anything but that. Make America great? No… not really. All gentlemanly norms have been thrown out the window. To elect someone who has had multiple accusations of rape and sexual assault, who mocks the disabled, who dog whistles white supremacists, who leads by Twitter statements, who has sought to erase every last bit of Obama’s legacy, who has fostered the creation of a militias all over the country, who puts children in cages, who unleashes the military on peaceful protestors, who calls our military losers, who ignored the playbook on a pandemic, who doesn’t trust science, who exploits our environment, who uses the office for personal financial gain, who tells his followers to create civil unrest, who wants to strip women of their reproductive rights… the list of atrocities is endless. One thing is certain: his leadership has fostered an alarming lack of empathy in this country. My heart has been sick for 4 long years.
As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, the fact that we are led by someone who has admitted on tape to assaulting women has been a huge trigger for me. Appointing someone to the Supreme Court with similar, credible accusations didn’t help. I’ve been told that I should just get over my experiences already. After all, I am 46, and I was 9 when the worst happened to me. But my inner child, who never really got to be one, still struggles.
We have seen an extraordinary rise in activism in the past 4 years, and for good reason. Those of us who seek social justice are awake. We are tired. And we are angry. We don’t want to move backwards. We have seen the rise of the Me Too movement, Black Lives Matter, and young people speaking up about gun control and environmental activism. It’s been worldwide. And in the shadows of the fight for progress are the rise of nationalism and white supremacy.
We can do this. We can be the light. Let’s not trust the polls leading up to this day: the day we take our country back. This is not Trump’s America. This is the United States of America. If you have not voted yet, you need to go on November 3rd. I voted early with my daughter, and we cast our votes for Joe Biden.
I’m crossing my fingers that my country makes a better choice this time. With voting early, I hope that enough people made it to the polls to overwhelmingly choose a new president. Let there be absolutely no question who the people have elected. God help our country if there’s not.
Have you already voted? If not, do you have a plan for Election Day? Please let your voice be heard. The movement needs to happen at your local and state levels, too.
If you are looking for a good documentary to get you fired up for Election Day, I highly recommend watching Not Done: Women Remaking America on PBS. You can watch it online or on demand.
If the Trump Train parades of the past weekend are an indication of what’s to come this week, we are in for a bumpy ride.
Take some time to care for your mental health this week. As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.