Election years are always interesting. Sometimes my candidate wins, sometimes not. I still have fond memories of the time my friend Kim and I painted “Vote for Perot!” on our cars in white shoe polish.
Needless to say, our candidate did not win that year, in spite of our best efforts. 🙂
Okay, so my candidate in 2000 didn’t win either…
My parents taught me to respect the political opinions of others, and even though I’m never happy when my candidate loses, I believe everyone has the right to vote for who and what they believe in.
What I can’t support is hatred. The racism, bigotry, and sexism I’m reading about every day right now are appalling. It’s one thing to be happy your candidate won, or sad that they lost. It’s another to harass people just because they’re different from you.
As a woman, I’ve had to deal with sexism and misogyny. I once went to an interview where the interviewer told me he was only talking with me because he was fascinated by the fact that I was a woman with a master’s degree in computer science. (No, I did not take that job.) I’ve dealt with extremely inappropriate comments, and had to walk past men on the street who felt it was acceptable to ogle young girls and didn’t realize how frightening that could be. I once was driving home from work and felt I was being followed by a man in a truck, so I took a circuitous path through town and couldn’t lose him. He stayed right behind me until I stopped at the bus station to pick up my boyfriend, then my follower stepped on the gas and zoomed away. All of it was pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff that women in our country encounter every day.
But what I’m seeing now is different. I don’t care who voted for who, but I do care about people treating each other with respect and dignity.
I grew up in a military family. My father was in the Army, and served in Vietnam. I was born in Germany, and we lived there and in the Netherlands for many years. My friends at school were white, black, part Korean, Filipino, Jewish, etc. I didn’t care what their racial or ethnic or religious background was, I cared that they were my friends. We were surrounded by reminders of World War II, like the restaurant in Zweibrücken that sits significantly lower than the street because after the war the street was rebuilt on rubble. We went to Checkpoint Charlie, and through it to East Berlin, which was like being in a movie that changed from color to black & white. We visited the Anne Frank House, Dachau, and many, many other places where – even when I was in elementary school – the reminders of war and the Holocaust were all around us.
I grew up seeing what war and hatred had done, and I believed that our world was becoming a better place.
I still think it is, but we as a nation have a lot of work to do.