Category Archives: Politics

Yes we (still) can

All right you guys. Tomorrow is the day that President Obama goes forward to being a private citizen (I won’t says “goes back” because I refuse to go back). Eight years ago, I was elated and proud and 24. I wrote this:

Yes We Can

Eight years later, I am the same and I am different. I’m older, obviously. I have a chronic illness that took five years to figure out how to treat (I never would have seen that coming in 2008). I have two little babies who I love more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. I have a godson and nephews and nieces who were lucky enough to be born under an Obama presidency, and I am lucky enough to have them all in my life.

I think I’m a little more realistic now. A little more even, and I move a little bit slower (figuratively and also literally).I have read more books, and learned more things.

I have Hamilton lyrics to guide me now (not even kidding, you guys).

But I also still feel dedicated to my country. To my right to free speech, and my right to healthcare. My right to choose, and the right to marry whoever you love. The right we all have to the pursuit of happiness, and I still feel angry when I think about how many Americans are refused that right.

I feel smarter about racism today than I did eight years ago. I know now that there is so much work to do, and that electing President Obama doesn’t mean racism is over.

Since the election, I’ve been head down in books like Just Mercy and The New Jim Crow. I have so much learning to do. I have more fight in me now than I did at 24, and while I have less energy than I did eight years ago, the energy I do have is deep and it’s intense in a way I didn’t know how to be in my early twenties. I was frenetic, now I’m focused.

Our children are watching us, and while I understood that before, now I have to answer to it.

So I won’t lie, my chickadees. Tomorrow for me will be hard. I will cry, I’m sure of it. I’ll look at Ellie and think about how the country elected a man who said he grabs women’s pussies, and I will feel hopeless. It will be worse when I remember that there are Americans who have convinced themselves voting for him does not mean they condone the man he is.

But chickens, in the words of a man who has proved to be full of grace and determination and goodness,

“In the unlikely story that is America there has never been anything false about hope.”

Let’s get right back to it. There is work to be done.

 

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thoughts when the light seems low

Namaste, chickadees.

I’ve finally gotten a few hours of sleep, and while I am still bleary-eyed, trying to make sense of all this, I have a few thoughts.

You’ll find, if you stick around, that I always have a few thoughts.

The first thing I do after an election is think about my grandfather. He left this earth fifteen years ago, but I do not go through an election cycle without reflecting about what he would have thought or what he would have said about the outcome. My grandfather left us when I was seventeen, and so one of my greatest regrets is that we didn’t get to have the adult relationship I have with the rest of my grandparents.

But then, my grandpa always treated me like an adult. He always gave me space at the table to tell him what I thought, and he always listened to me. My grandparents always thought politics were important, and so even as a child, we sat around after dinner and we talked about what we thought was right and wrong, and that was the first place I felt it was safe to form my opinions.

So I took a walk yesterday and looked at the blue sky, and I asked him what he thought. I asked him, could he truly believe this is where we were?

I willed him to somehow communicate to me what was next.

And I felt a brief wash of calm, just for a moment.

I was taught that the way to fight for what you believe is with your words and your actions.

To say I am devastated about the outcome of Tuesday night would be an understatement.

I think my grandfather would have been devastated too.

But I think he would have told me to keep moving, that the most important thing we could do would be to pause to reflect and then jump up and take action. I think we can tell each other that those of us who choose love over hate and those of us who know how important it is to take care of each other are still all exactly where we were Tuesday morning.

We’re right here, chickens.

*****

Tuesday, I worked the polls for 17 hours. I showed up before five that morning. I was supposed to be joined by four other judges, but instead just one Republican judge named Nathan showed up. Nathan and I had never worked the polls before, and there was a rush of humanity when they opened at 6 am.

We weren’t ready for it. We had no idea what to do, and before long, there was a line of voters in the auditorium and I started sweating.

We adjusted quickly, stretching to do four jobs between two people, making the process fluid and easy and taking care of each other. Nathan was polite to every single voter, he was helpful even when it was obvious that the vast majority of the voters in our precinct were outspokenly voting against the Republicans. He thanked every citizen who came through the door for voting and I could tell he meant it.

He didn’t flinch when I dropped the f bomb several times an hour, even though I gathered he was not the type to swear. He didn’t roll his eyes when I lectured my neighbors about how not requiring ID was a positive thing. He promised an upset 87-year-old man that he would make sure his vote counted.

He laughed at almost all of my jokes, and at the end of the night, exhausted, we found out that our ward boasted the highest turnout in the city, something that made us both visibly excited.

Election judges are supposed to wear badges with their political parties on them, but because we were slammed in the morning, we never got around to finding them or putting them on.

We served as plain old Americans instead. We were a great team. I’d want Nathan on my team again if I could choose.

Chicks, I have to believe that there are more Nathans out there to add to all of us who already believe in a civil, peaceful, loving America.

What’s next is to decide how we move forward. Can we reach deep down where it’s dark and scary and figure out a way to go on in love? It won’t be easy. Getting angry comes easier, and honestly, it’s a fair reaction. But let’s use that anger to stoke the fire of change, everyone. Let’s be the people we want our children to look up to. Let’s make this country a safer, better place to hand off to them someday.

And let’s know that the midterms are two years away. Let’s not waste any time crying when we could be volunteering or speaking or writing or donating.

Namaste, chickadees. There will be sunshine again, I promise.

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not throwing away my shot

 

Here’s the deal, chickadees.

I can’t check election projections any more. I’ve been checking them obsessively for days (weeks, months), and enough, already.

This campaign has been bitter and tough and violent and not our best foot forward.

I’m older than I was on the eve of electing Barack Obama, a great man I feel proud to call my President.

I was 24 and I cared so much about our country then, but in a different way than I do now.

Now I care about that country in a deeply personal way because there are beautiful little people who I am responsible for turning over this nation to one day and I’d like them to think I made it a better place.

I may be a little more cynical than I was 8 years ago. I might heave my shoulders more often and sigh, and worry that this is how people are.

That people truly think that there are American citizens who count less than they do.

But then I lift up my head. And I look around, and I realize I’m surrounded by people who don’t think that.

I’m surrounded by people who know it’s important that we don’t act like demeaning women is acceptable “locker room talk.” That we recognize that making fun of people with disabilities makes you a straight up asshole. That your kids deserve the same education that my kids deserve, because these kids are all our kids.

And they’re going to do great things.

I cannot be cynical, because to be cynical is to be defeated. I’m working the polls tomorrow, and I’ll do it with a smile on my face because I truly believe that I am lucky to be an American.

I think a lot about something Cory Booker wrote (well, something his dad said and he wrote about):

“Boy, don’t you dare walk around this house like you hit a triple, when you were born on third base!”

Like Senator Booker, I feel like I was born on third base. It has nothing to do with what I deserve or how hard I’ve worked, it was sheer dumb luck and I am thankful for it every single day but it’s only luck.

And my fellow citizens who didn’t get so lucky are just as deserving at the same shot I received.

So I voted for the candidate who I think believes that too. Who is going to work to give us all a better shot.

I think she’ll do great.

We will still be divided on Wednesday, even if the election is over.

That’s something I learned over the past eight years, and it’s also okay. My hope is that we recognize this time that our success hinges on our ability to move forward, and not to be stuck in some past version of America where it was acceptable to divide our worth up based on how we looked or where we came from.

I hope you vote, because your voice is silent without it.

America is beautiful, chickens. Even when it’s scary or turbulent or not as we want it to be, it’s ours, and it’s an experiment like this world has never seen before. And there’s no one else I’d rather belong to.

 

 

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here to greet it.

Morning, chickadees.

I’ve been pretty busy, trying to beat back a cold that won’t end, waking up a couple of times a night to feed my little girl, and fighting fake fires with my toddler.

I’ve been trying to focus on the good parts of the world.

Because, despite the endless swirl of the spin that appears to be dragging us all down, there’s a lot of good in the world.

Like, the Cubs are still in the World Series.

And my babies are dressed up in adorable costumes today.

And the sun rose this morning and we’re all here to greet it.

This election is going to be over in a week, everyone, either way.

I’m a student of history, chicks. I read it as fast and as much I can, especially lately, because there’s comfort to me in the fact that this isn’t the first time we’ve been in a panic. It hasn’t been the first time that violent rhetoric has threatened our democracy.

And we’re still standing.

As Joe Biden would say, “C’mon, we’re America!”

To me, this election cycle has shocked me into a clarity about the fact that there are more people who do not care about their fellow man than I thought there were. That they’ve been waiting on the edge for someone to tell them it was okay to say out loud that the poor, the weak, the different, they don’t matter as much or at all.

And at first that made me upset, because I didn’t want to believe they were out there in large numbers. But now, I think, it makes me relieved, because I want you where I can see you.

I don’t want to laugh nervously and change the subject the next time you say something racist or sexist or just kind of shitty about one of the people I share our country with- I want to say, I see you, and what you said is not okay, and I’m not going to be quiet about it, because you said it about my brother or my sister. I don’t care where you were brought up or how old you are or what kind of religious beliefs you have, the most basic tenant of coexistence is that we just be nice to each other, you guys.

My mom taught me that.

I hope your mom did too.

Theo and I have been talking a lot about how important it is to be nice. About how it’s not always easy, but it’s always important. I want my kids to grow up to be kind. That would be enough.

And so my suggestion (to myself too, because this is hard for all of us) for the next eight days is that we just try to be nice to each other.

Also, vote, everyone. Vote because this election matters so much to so many people. It will say something about how we feel about each other as humans.

This will be over and in our rear view mirror in a little more than a week, and I promise you, chickens, we will be ready to face it either way because we are America, and we haven’t always been right or perfect, but we have always been tough.

 

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deep down into the fray

Ok guys, so I’ve been in DC and Phoenix since I last saw you because why wouldn’t I be traveling around the country when I’m 37 weeks pregnant?

Seriously, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Plus, I made quite the circuit when I was pregnant with Theo and doesn’t Lady Baby deserve the same jet setter treatment as her older brother?

Obviously.

So anyway, I’ve been trying to stay above the political fray, except that I’ve been in hotels which means I’ve had cable which means I’ve had cable news which means I’m not above the fray at all.

On the issue of this whole transgender bathroom thing, I would just like to say the following:

  1. No actual violent, crazy sexual predator is just now going to feel entitled to molest little boys or girls because the law lets people use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. It’s not like the law says “you may now use whichever bathroom you choose and also molest anyone you feel like. Go right ahead. Equality!”
  2. You probably use the bathroom with transgender people all the time and don’t know it. They don’t wear signs.
  3. Can we just please all stop hating on each other, already?

In addition, the other thing that has been starting to wear on me (other than the end of my pregnancy) is this whole “Make America Great Again!” thing.

Full disclosure: Nothing I am about to say means that I don’t think America is great. I believe in my country and I love my country. I also believe in my toddler and love my toddle, but sometimes you guys, if I’m being completely honest, he can be a bit of a pain in the ass. That’s not disloyal, it’s just being real. In fact, I would argue that I love both my country and my child more by not putting them up on some pedestal of perfection. It’s too much pressure, chickens.

Which brings me to this. Our beautiful, amazing country has always been flawed. When it started, slavery was legal and women couldn’t vote. Then we couldn’t agree about if we were a nation of separate states or one unified country, so we got into big fat fights about that.

We killed Native Americans because we didn’t understand them. We still didn’t let women vote. We got into a giant civil war where we fought each other because some of us still thought slavery should be legal. When we finally made it illegal, we still couldn’t (still haven’t) shake racism.

We operated an economy with child labor. We went through depressions. We got into World Wars. We interned our own citizens in camps because they were Japanese. We had trouble accepting civil rights, and we assassinated Presidents and had race riots.

I’m stopping there, because this could take all day despite me not even getting to the last half century.. And yes, I know we’ve done amazing, great things too. But my point is this. We have been a lot of things, but a perfect nation is not one of them. So when we say let’s make America great again, when was that, you guys? Is there a specific cut off in time in which we stopped being great?

In my estimation, we’ve been equal parts great and not-so-great this whole time. If I was running for President, I’d be focused on continuing to keep what’s great about America intact (diversity, ambition, independence, freedom, ingenuity) and working on what we’ve had some trouble with (tolerance, equality, wealth gaps, racism).

As you can see, I’ve dived right down into the fray, but I’m frustrated. I don’t think the world is a terrible place. I don’t think all humans are the worst. We have work to do, chickadees, but we’re America, which means nothing is impossible.

Let’s focus our energy on a new message, my friends. And let it be one that’s a little less I’m-so-angry and a little more I’m-so-grateful.

That’s where I am. Stay tuned- I can’t imagine it’s the last I’ll have to say on it.

 

 

 

 

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soapboxes and playing nice(r)

I would like to climb on my soapbox for a second and say a few things that have been building up.

You don’t have to agree with me, which is great. It’s the whole point of this beautiful country.

So a few things, in the thick of primary season.

Full disclosure, I’m the kind of liberal who’s socially liberal, and fiscally liberal. I’m all the liberal, but I also don’t think you’re foolish if you’re not (unless it’s the socially liberal piece you have a problem with, that’s harder for me, and I admit it).

  1. I kind of feel badly for Jeb Bush. He reminds me of Prince John in the cartoon version of Robin Hood, like he’s probably sucking his thumb somewhere wishing he was his brother.
  2. If I hear one more person talking about how so-and-so is purposely trying to ruin America, I’m gonna lose it. Nobody’s trying to do that. Everyone has opinions about how to make America the best it can be. I don’t agree with everyone’s opinions, at all (Don’t let Muslims into the country? Insane, to me.), but I cannot believe that anyone is really, on-purpose, trying to make us worse. This seems like common sense to me, but maybe it’s just me.
  3. If you run around calling people who disagree with you losers and stupid in public, you shouldn’t get to be President. Are we 11? I just think that should be a rule. Some people like this, because they think we’ve gotten too politically correct, but to me, being politically correct does not mean you don’t get to be honest, it just means, don’t be a dick, friends. You don’t get to say racist things and then claim that people are too sensitive. You’re being a dick, Donald Trump.
  4. Ted Cruz is scarier to me than Donald Trump. It’s just my own truth. I think it’s because I get the sneaking suspicion that Donald Trump doesn’t believe everything he says (also, I heard you Donald, talking about how you think Planned Parenthood does great things) and I think Ted Cruz really does. Yikes, Yikes, Yikes. Also, anyone who sees Barack Obama as an extreme leftist isn’t doing his research.
  5. I’m not going to pretend that I’m really ever going to be an undecided voter, but here are my thoughts. I absolutely cannot vote for a candidate who thinks gay people don’t deserve equal rights or that abortion should be illegal. I can’t do it. I have kids, and one day, if one of them comes to me and says “Hey Mom, I think I’m gay,” I want them to know I supported them before they were even born. I don’t want to have to rationalize to myself or anyone else as to why I voted how I did. And the same on abortion- I’m not saying I would have an abortion (although, to be perfectly honest, I have the huge luxury of never, ever, having had to have been in the position to worry about it, and that has nothing to do with any moral decisions I’ve ever made. It’s luck), but man if it’s none of my business how many guns you have, then it’s none of your business what’s going on inside my body. GTFO, you guys. Not to mention I think there are 100 other things (contraceptives, health care, a better welfare system) that we could work on that would actually lower the abortion rate (win all around) without dictating what women are allowed to do with their bodies.
  6. I am not moving to another country, even if the Grimace from McDonald’s becomes the President. For some reason this proposed solution drives me crazy, because it’s not problem solving to me. People who I don’t like have won elections before–it happens. Here’s the deal. It’s my country and it’s our democratic process, and if you really think our country is so great (and in so many ways, it is), then you don’t leave because you lose. You continue to fight for the things you think are important. If people really did this, we’d have half the population emigrating every few years, and what a mess that would be.

You guys, I think so many more things but that’s all I have for now. I am not hateful toward people who disagree with me, and I don’t think that my position is the obvious one and yours is dumb if it doesn’t jive with mine. I think in America it takes all kinds and all positions and that’s what makes us great (please recall, I named my first born son after a Republican, after all), but I also think we need to wake up as human citizens of the world and not give in to the easy play to be divisive and angry and hateful. I just think we’re all better than that.

<climbs off of soapbox>

Oh, wait, one more thing.

Please, dear God, just vote, okay? Otherwise none of this even matters.

 

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voting stickers and well-fed littles

Morning, chickadees.

Today, I’m thankful for a couple of things.

1) Democracy! It’s mid-term election day, which means it’s time to get out and vote. In Illinois, we’re gonna have a couple of close elections, which means that your opinion counts. I won’t say I don’t care who you vote for (because it’s kind of a lie), but man, I care even more that you vote. As someone who just finished watching the entire series West Wing for the first time (I KNOW I WAS SO LATE TO THE GAME), I’m even more obsessed with voting and politics than before.

Please remember, I named my son after a US President (shocking fact: a Republican President- see, I’m bi-partisan!)

2) After six weeks of trying to figure out whether or not something was wrong with the aforementioned tiny President, because he just wouldn’t gain weight, we hit the doctor’s office and T weighed in over a pound bigger than he was last time.

Which is a lot when you’re only 13 lbs.

Boo wouldn’t take to formula, no matter how I pleaded with him or attempted to trick him. He could sniff it out, even diluted in breast milk, and so finally, I gave up and just started feeding him man meals with a side of nursing.

Which turned out to do the trick. Who needs formula when you’ve got chicken breasts, toast, and donuts?

I can’t say I blame him, and I am so relieved that he’s found his way back onto the growth curve.

Now if only he could find his way back into his crib…

But that’s a story for another day.

Enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it, chickens!

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