When my 12-year-old daughter went to sleep Tuesday night, she was scared. She and her classmates don’t understand how the adults of this country could elect someone who they see as demagogic, anti-immigrant, racist and sexist.
What do we say?
The tens of thousands of adults and children who gathered outside and inside the Jacob Javits Convention Center Tuesday night – supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton – asked the same questions. And they didn’t have many answers.
Chicago resident Jill Spooner, who was certain Clinton would win earlier in the evening, was far more subdued later. But even after she left the dispirited, deflated Eleventh Avenue block party, she reflected, quietly: “I think we have a lot to overcome. This election has shown us we still have… a lot more healing and a lot more work to do.”
Here’s what I will tell my daughter, and what we could tell all of our children:
This country is bigger than any one person. It’s bigger than its president. It has leaders who can lead, and lead well. It is filled with people who are loving and caring. Millions of Americans who will work every day to make this country better.
You are loved. Your parents, your teachers, your friends, and the adults around you will care for you. They will try to create a world that’s better, a place that’s stronger.
There are many people in this country who are hurting – deeply. They see a country where they cannot find jobs that pay them well, where they cannot afford health care, where they cannot keep their homes. They don’t think our country’s leaders have helped them – and they wanted to try something new. So, they’ve elected Donald Trump president, and they’re hoping he can lead. If he surrounds himself with competent people with good ideas, and if he allows the good leaders in Congress to help him, and if all of us continue to speak out, then this country can still move forward.
If you have something to say, say it. If you have something to do, do it. You can still make a difference – you can still do so much good. So much of this country is based on what individuals do in small ways – not what on one leader does in big ways.
Always keep fighting. Always keep believing. Have hope. Even tomorrow, there will be hope.
And one more thing: specifically to our daughters. Hillary Clinton won’t be the first female president of the United States. The glass ceiling of the Javits Center remains intact. But that doesn’t mean you can’t break barriers. And it does mean that someone else will have to break it.
Perhaps that someone will be you.
Randi F. Marshall is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.