Posted by: Grandma LaLa | November 12, 2016

For our young citizens

We awakened on Wednesday morning to the stunning news that American voters have elected Donald Trump as the next president of the United States and Mike Pence as vice president. My first thoughts were of you: Graciela, Josef, and Benjamin, the youngest members of my family; Alexandra, Maddox and Ava, Ximena and Sebastian, Liam and Ava, dear children in our extended community of friends and neighbors.

For us as citizens

With this news, I am afraid for you ~ afraid for what you might hear and say and feel in this new America. And so I wept when I learned that President Trump and Vice President Pence will have governing authority for our nation ~ and will set the examples for our citizens of what it is to be an American.

I have voted in all 11 presidential elections since I turned 18 years old. Sometimes my candidate wins; sometimes my candidate loses. That’s what happens in a democracy filled with lots of good people who have different opinions and different needs. I actively campaigned and happily voted both times for Barack Obama – and I’m proud to have helped choose our first African-American president. I also campaigned and happily voted for Hillary Clinton – and hoped to have helped elect her as our first female president.

The root of my shock, anger, and pain isn’t primarily that my candidate lost. She had some flaws (as every human does). It isn’t even that my party lost. It has some flaws too, and needs to work on these.

My sadness and outrage are about what this collective vote means that our people value and who we are as a nation. And that’s why I’m terrified for each of you as a young American, still learning what it means to be a good citizen.

The voters have chosen a man whose 18-month campaign showed us who he is: he isn’t able to empathize ~ to know in his heart how someone else feels; and he isn’t capable of remorse for his bad choices or genuine apologies. He has said hateful and hurtful things about Muslim Americans and Jewish Americans. He has said cruel and mean things about Asian Americans and Latino/Latina Americans. He has ridiculed and mocked people who have handicaps and other challenges. He has shown for several years that he thinks it’s ok for powerful men to touch and talk about women in ways that they don’t like and don’t want. After the election, he was asked by a reporter wondering whether he wanted to take back some of the hurtful things he said to and about other Americans. His response was, “No, I won.”

Graciela, Benjamin, Josef, Alexandra, Maddox, Ava, Ximena, Sebastian, Liam, and Maeva … I am so proud of who you are as young Americans. Each one of you already knows that these attitudes and behaviors are not what a loving person of faith or patriotic citizen would do. You know that you’d get a serious time-out and/or grounding for any one of these bad choices! Yet here is our president-elect, serving as a “model” for our nation and making such bad choices about how he treats Americans who are different from him.

People voted for Mr. Trump for lots of different reasons. Whatever those reasons, the implications are staggering. You know we talk about good choices and bad choices. And part of thinking through a good choice is not only what we intend from that choice, but also what could happen as a result of it.

I’m not just concerned about Mr. Trump’s choices, however. I’m also concerned about how his choices are becoming examples that other people, adults and even children, will follow in saying and doing hurtful things.

The voter choices that elected Mr. Trump approve the anti-Muslim, anti-Jew, religiously intolerant, and overtly exclusive things that Mr. Trump repeatedly voiced in his campaign.

The voter choices that elected Mr. Trump energize other hateful people to be violent in speech and in action against people of color.

The voter choices that elected Mr. Trump make it very clear that a substantial portion of the American electorate thinks of women as property: that we have no right to control choices about our bodies (such as pregnancy); that we should be judged and rated on the basis of our vaginas, our breasts, and our willingness to be silent when touched by powerful men in ways that we don’t like and don’t want.

Belittling veterans who have served and sacrificed their lives to protect us, mocking people with disabilities, excluding LGTBQ people from human rights … This is not the America I value. This is not the America I want you to experience or inherit.

Graciela, Benjamin, Josef, Alexandra, Maddox, Ava, Ximena, Sebastian, Liam, and Maeva … I am so proud of who you are as young Americans. You know that we vote for our president only once every four years, but we vote for what kind of nation we want each and every day. Each and every day, we vote by treating people like us and people different from us with compassion, kindness, and respect.

As citizens of our planet

The even-more-terrifying reality for me is that 80% of the American public believes that climate change is real, yet nearly 50% of the people voting chose a president and vice president who believe that climate change is fake and plan to reverse our modest progress toward protecting the planet for you and your children.

Our best scientists have been warning for years that the window is closing to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet. The best estimate has long been that we needed to significantly reduce carbon emissions by 2017 or 2018 at the latest. Now we know that our president and our vice president will not only fail to help us do that – they will be giving the green light to industries to increase emissions and pollution, not reduce them.

So my fears for you as young citizens are not only immediate and short-term, for the harassment, meanness, and violence that you each could witness and even experience because of this election. My fears for you are also for the long-term and your futures into adulthood. Without big steps to cut emissions, our beautiful earth could well be uninhabitable in your lifetimes.

Our promise to you

I want you to know that Grandpa LaLa / Uncle Ron and I will continue to do everything we can to help create a community and a nation where all persons of good faith are treated respectfully and live safely. We will vote daily with our words, our actions, and our choices to help ensure that you live in an America where people are valued and respected. I want you to know that we will continue to speak boldly and act protectively for those in our world who are most vulnerable and least able to protect themselves. We will continue to make personal choices and take personal actions to advocate for a healthy planet and all of its creatures and lifeforms. Above all, we will do everything we can to keep each of you safe, so the promise for your futures is a bright one.

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