Pinky-promise. My girls – and most kids – are all about promises. Do you promise we’ll go to the park tomorrow? Do you promise we can get ice cream after soccer? After being at the parenting “rodeo” for a few years, I’ve learned not to make promises for activities that can easily be turned upside down by a traffic jam or a thunder storm.
But I sent my girls to bed on November 8th – promising them they’d wake up to the first female president. I promised them that there was no way a man with a history of discriminatory statements, sexual harassment, and callous business decisions would be elected.
They woke up to the biggest broken promise of their lives on November 9th – and a mother with puffy eyes and no way to explain it to them. As the days went by, I explained that collectively thousands of people broke promises during the voting process. People who swore they’d vote – didn’t – either because they were inhibited by voting laws or a boss with little sympathy for democracy – or just plain apathy. Lawmakers in our state and others spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars putting laws in place to further reduce access to the ballot box and muddy the waters as much as they could.
These feel like dire times. Policies are being put in place that transport us back 20, 30 years. The President is working hard to prevent access to our country based on people’s religion. He’s making unequivocally false statements and then trying to deny their existence or his intent. For the first time in my life, I’m uncertain of our safety and security as a country – as the President rocks around the White House like a ticking time bomb, his hand on “Tweet”, the other on the TV remote – ready to send out a bomb-provoking statement at any hour of the day.
But recently, while my shoulders may sag under the weight of worry and disappointment in my fellow citizens, I have been reminded that our youngest generation has the unmatched potential to change things. Thanks to social media and greater social and political awareness of thousands of parents – we have youth that are learning early how to enact change. Resistance and protest is no longer a marginalized activity. It’s gone mainstream. Forget the images of the 1960’s and 70’s of “hippy protesters” burning bras and chanting against a war in Vietnam. Soccer moms – like me – are dragging our kids out to protest, teaching them how to make great protest signs, chant loudly and the best way to paint passionate messages on their mom’s car windows on the way to a March.
More than any generation before them, my girls and their peers are empowered, and perhaps that’s the tiny silver lining of the shocking results of November’s election. Kids are starting their own charities when they’ve not yet hit double digits, they’re starting petitions to get styrofoam out of their school cafeterias, and already thinking about how they might lead.
It’s time we begin to recognize them – as they carry out a promise to us to leave the world a better place than what we’re handing to them. That’s why Women AdvaNCe is recognizing young girls through our She is Fierce campaign. We’re collecting stories from girls across the state of what they’re doing to make history.
And back to promises … my promise to my girls is never again. Never again will apathy lead us to this point, but while I can change my behavior and level of political engagement, it takes all of us to do the same – regardless of party. Republican and Democrat women need to engage in politics and policy and make sure that the people we put forth as candidates are qualified and represent our ideals. Will you help me keep my promise?