This election season, Mama Elle has been reading 19th century novels to put politics in perspective. Many people are feeling frustrated and let down about American politics this week, but not Mama Elle! I am so happy and proud to go to the polls tomorrow, with my little daughter in tow, who just learned the word "vote" on Sesame Street. (Big Bird, we've got your back.)
Two hundred years ago, people fought just as foolishly over partisan issues as they do today. But the front lines of those battles took place at very different places along the arc of justice than they do now. Even just one hundred years ago, American families were still dying in the streets to protest child slave labor and fight for women's right to vote. In the 19th century, white politicians squabbled over what do do about "Negro freemen." Now, our President is a man of mixed race. A hundred years ago, my grandmother's grandmother was not allowed to vote. Now, women are voting for equal rights in the workplace and the doctor's office. Sure, there is some really offensive misogynist talk going on in the legislature around women's health care, but in prior centuries a woman's lady business was not even fit conversation inside of the home, let alone an area worthy of protection under the law. In centuries past, homosexuals could be locked up and tortured in sanatoriums just because of their sexuality, and the youth of today is building an America where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live freely and openly, with full civil rights.
The fact that there are still some people in America who haven't caught on, who aren't ready for progress, is no reason to despair. I am grateful for how far we have come and exhilarated to live in a period of time when things are changing so much and so fast. Progress can seem frustratingly slow, but on the scale of human history, we are on the frontier of a rapidly blossoming future, a time like no other that has ever come before.
I am proud to be educated on my local candidates, the nonpartisan section of my ballot, and my state proposals. And I am proud to support my President. In just the past four years, President Obama has:
- made it easier for my husband to find a new job when he lost his old one by supporting small businesses;
- saved the health and lives of many of my daughter's age cohorts by providing health coverage to them;
- supported my access to prenatal and postpartum care;
- made it less likely for any more of my acquaintances to die from war;
- given me hope that I can afford to send my daughter to college;
- helped revitalize struggling cities like mine;
- prevented the zombie apocalypse (err, auto industry total collapse) from originating in Detroit, which is too close for comfort;
- put a few thousand extra bucks in my bank account in tax credits;
- forced my student loan creditors to lower their interest rates and my credit card companies to more clearly disclose their rules;
- legislated cleaner air for my generation and my daughter's;
- signed the Lily Ledbetter Act to ensure that my daughter and I can get fair pay; and
- publicly supported the loving commitments and civil rights of my queer friends.
Anybody who says President Obama "couldn't get anything done" is tuned into the wrong station. I am voting confidently, proudly, and happily tomorrow for a candidate who has done right by my family and my country. Tomorrow, my daughter will see her mother and father vote proudly, grateful to take part in the great, messy, still progressing dance of democracy.