Is it possible to mourn the outcome of this election and feel gratitude?
“It’s like losing a loved one,” a friend remarked as we spoke of our upset that a man who denigrated and objectified women, directed hate talk to minorities, mocked the disabled, lead the charge to jail Hillary, is now the president elect.
In the aftermath, we experience sadness. Are not the tears in this sadness embedded in gratitude? Had I not admired, respected, and trusted Hillary, would I feel this bereft? Had I not felt enormous gratitude for what she gave and endured in those long, difficult days of confronting the challenges of being the first female presidential candidate in history, would I feel so beleaguered?
I am grateful: Hillary ran for president, not once, but twice.
The first time, in 2008, I stood in a long line with my friend, Rosemary, to attend Hillary’s primary rally at Boston’s Symphony Hall. When she took the stage in her soft yellow pantsuit, I stood and cheered, my heart pounding with anticipation and pride in a woman candidate. I was 76 years old.
I recalled how, growing into womanhood, I admired two outspoken women: Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Chase Smith. Eleanor was her husband’s eyes and ears, his advisor. Smith was among the first to criticize the tactics of McCarthyism the year I graduated high school. McCarthy frightened me; Smith called him out, stood her ground and spoke out against despotism. In 1964, Smith ran as a candidate for the Republican nomination but lost.
That rally night at Symphony Hall, the golden-walled space rang with excited applause and sisterhood. Hillary was passionate; we were passionate with her. Like Smith, she lost that first effort and to my surprise, she picked herself up and accepted the job of Secretary of State. The job was brutal, requiring resiliency, flexibility, grit and yes, stamina.
My gratitude grew as I read of her missions and watched her interviews on television. I appreciated both her grace and grit as she traveled the world, tried to negotiate fairness and safety.
Election, 2016, her run for president seemed inevitable. Who could challenge her competence and knowledge, her dedication to civility and service? Of course, dedicated Bernie. I was grateful for two champions. I was grateful for the choice.
Hillary won the nomination, paved the path, forged the way forward as far and wide as she could. I am grateful, yet mourn for what was lost— the promise of a steady, firm reasonable leader with heart for families and children of all races and creeds.
How to honor the sadness and move forward? I am vigilant. I tune to trusted journalists, writers and commentators. I read to stay current, to assess whose point of view resonates, makes sense. Today, November 12th, Timothy Eagen, in his New York Times Opinion essay, Resist Much, wrote, “Grief is an emotion that has little power in politics.”
Time for me to take the next step. Onward.