I take heart in knowing I’m not the only person who is a little bleary-eyed today after watching election results until well after my bedtime. I had the good fortune to spend Election Night with a team of wonderful Asheville women, all chipping in to prepare for this weekend’s North Carolina Women’s Summit. While we stuffed folders and bags, we watched CNN and their “Magic Wall” (I think I heard comics rejoicing when then name was announced.) and waited for the anchors (both men) to declare the “projected winner” in races around the country.
I believe many of us were holding our breath for months leading up until last night. Two years ago we experienced what happens when people don’t turn out, when people say, “oh, there’s no way,” “surely not.”
Holding your breath is exhausting, especially while you’re trying to Move a Mountain. And what mountains we moved yesterday …
As of early Wednesday morning, CNN projected 96 women would win House races, with 31 women newly elected to the House and 65 female incumbents. That bests the previous record of 85 representatives, according to the Congressional Research Service.
We elected the first Native American women to Congress and the first Muslim woman. We elected the first openly gay Governor to leadership in Colorado. The youngest woman to Congress. The list goes on.
Many of us have been working tirelessly over the last two years, working towards a do-over of 2016. None of us want to wake up again, bleary and puffy-eyed from tears shed from outcomes that didn’t support what we thought America stood for. Fearful for what laid ahead.
We’re living that time now. The time we wondered how we would get through. Make no mistake. It’s not easy. I have moments almost daily where I inwardly say, “Really?”, “Seriously?” I am astounded by what some in our country are accepting from people in power. I am disheartened by the racism that continues to exist.
But we are living a new time when women are on fire. People of color are on fire. We’re pushing ahead with more in our army than ever before. Children are watching their mothers march, and monitor polls and run for office. Imagine what lessons those young minds are absorbing.
So exhale today. Breathe. The mountain moved a little last night. Walk to the top of it today and look at what lies ahead. Keep pushing. Keep questioning. Keep doing. We are not finished, but let’s not hold our breath any more. Let’s breathe through it. We know what can happen when we work together. Last night was a final dress rehearsal for 2020, and there is work to be done between now and then.
Many of us will be working on that this Saturday at the Women’s Summit. There are a few seats left and we’d be honored for you to join us.