April in Glenwood: I still have a dream
The other night, before Election Day, I had a dream.
I envisioned excitedly telling my almost 16-month-old son that the country had elected its first female president. I recall being extremely giddy in this dream, knowing the highest glass ceiling in our land had been shattered. I believe the words, “I never thought this would happen in my lifetime …” were uttered.
Hopefully I live to at least 100, so women have 56 more years to make it happen.
I admittedly felt confident going into this year’s heated and emotional election about helping elect the nation’s first woman president. It’s going down in the books as one of the most scandalous and ugly, but I’m trying to look past all that negativity. I’m still proud of how far my gender came in a race for a position historically reserved for our male counterpart.
It’s not an easy one, this fight. In the last few days, I’ve felt more of a deeply personal loss than I expected. I’m muddling through all those five stages of grief that begin with denial and end with acceptance. I was definitely fighting the reality of the situation the night of the election. Then, the electoral votes started to stack in our newly appointed president-elect’s favor, and my anger set in. I was mad about the divisive message and ugly words that had been spoken against minorities, from women and Muslims to a reporter with a handicap and Mexicans. I couldn’t forget and still haven’t. That will take me some time, so I just ask for a little patience. I need to go through bargaining and depression before I can accept.
I’m well aware my dream of having a woman president, particularly this year’s candidate, is cause for vitriol. I honestly believe she’s more equipped for the job. I expect the backlash, because that’s how politics work. We take sides, and it just so happens the camp I gravitate to featured a female in this election. Would I vote for a woman on the flip side just because I really want a female for president in my lifetime? Maybe. Depends on her policies.
Former New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte comes to mind. She’s a Republican who has proven to work across party lines — which I personally hope we see more of to help our country come together instead of continue to divide — for a better America. She has supported bills to prepare students with technical education for 21st century jobs, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities. She worked to build a comprehensive federal strategy tackling our nation’s heroin and prescription opioid abuse problem. She rallied for New Hampshire’s fishing industry workforce and supported the Clean Power Plan to combat climate change. She’s viewed as a leader on national security and foreign policy. But if I voted my party in the primaries or a straight ticket if she ran, she might not even be on my radar.
Unfortunately these topics were far from reasonably discussed in this election. The candidate’s personalities seemed to take center stage. Hopefully in 2020, the important issues will be the focus. Most importantly, to me and other women, Ayotte and Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen co-sponsored a bill against workplace discrimination to ensure expectant mothers can continue working during their pregnancy. And she has backed legislation for employers to offer flex-time to working parents and expand access to affordable child care. The latter is an example of gender-specific progress I’d expect a female president can bring. I hope our new president also understands the need.
We’ll never know if Hillary could have instigated change for women like I envision. Especially helping with the equality in the workplace problem that irritates me to my core. I once found out a reciprocal male colleague, who I trumped in education and work experience by at least eight years, made thousands of dollars more than me annually. That was solely because he was a man, and it has stuck with me. Maybe my experience trying to break gender barriers in the workplace is behind my longing for a woman to be the leader of the free world.
And maybe someday it will be more than just a dream.
April E. Allford loves the USA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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