I just spent a pathetic amount of time trying to find a photo I took of Little L on election night in 2008. It’s lost somewhere on a thumb drive or a USB card, or maybe the laptop I was using back then. The fact that it’s not stored in my Facebook memories probably says more about how much my world has changed since then than anything else, but I digress.
In the photo she’s sitting in her highchair wearing not much other than a diaper. The tray in front of her shows the remains of the pitiful dinner I managed to pull together for her while keeping my eyes glued to the election Twitter feed. Olive slices and cupcakes. That’s it. That’s what my delighted toddler ate on election night 2008. There is no record of what her 3 year old sister had for dinner that night.
It was an amazing night. One full of hope and excitement. I couldn’t take my eyes off the giddy frenzy that was Twitter. It was all just such a high.
The last year has felt like the opposite of that high and I’ve often looked back at all the tragic events that have sucked the hope right out of the air and the vitriol that has filled it instead and wondered where it all went wrong.
Where did the love go? The hope? The camaraderie and support?
So much hate. So much anger instead.
It’s enough to make a person want to lock their doors and hide forever.
Even Twitter, so full of bubbling joy that night, has become a cesspool of muck.
Then yesterday I joined a top-secret-not-so-secret Facebook group titled Pantsuit Nation.
I was sick and tired of the increasingly desperate Facebook posts of people pleading 3rd party voters to not throw away their vote. Exhausted by reading the same rhetoric again and again. And lured by the hints of hope I was seeing from people who had joined the secret group.
I waded in with zero expectations and was gobsmacked into feeling hopeful again.
It’s not a group for convincing fence sitters or staunch opponents, it’s just a group of people celebrating Hillary.
No, no, not a “rah rah, ain’t she great!”, kinda place, just story after story about why people are voting for her.
Intensely personal stories about late term abortions, immigration, daughters and sons. About elderly parents who are voting for the first time. About terminally ill people holding on so they can see history made. Stories about triumphant love and healthcare. About beating odds that didn’t even exist 8 years ago.
It is a place of hope and love, of support and encouragement.
It is proof that all the goodwill hasn’t been sucked out of America.
Proof that lies in the fact that, as of this morning, 2.5 million people have joined the group and the comments aren’t angry, aren’t mean or demeaning.
That’s worth repeating. The comments aren’t angry, mean, or demeaning.
This morning in the Pantsuit Nation group I saw a photo of a man standing in line to vote, wearing the most amazing pair of red patent leather high heels. And the thousands of comments were all positive.
For a man who is so hopeful to cast a vote that might mean he can truly be himself, that he wore red high heels to vote.
I don’t know what tonight’s election results will bring. I’m crossing all of my fingers and toes that the nation turns out to vote in favor of love and not hate, but no matter what happens, I’m going to forever hold those red shoes in my heart.
Over the last few years, we’ve been showing our really gruesome underbelly. Hate. Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. I don’t believe that these are new, I just believe that people have kept them hidden deep in dark closets and basements.
Maybe, just maybe, Pantsuit Nation is proof that what was really happening is the first step to the great clean-up. When it’s time to tackle that closet no one dares open or talk about, you first have to take everything out, lay it out, and start sorting.
We’ve laid it all out. I finally have hope that what comes next will be beautiful.
That baby who is no longer a baby covered in olive juice and frosting deserves to grow up in a world where people are loved for who they are instead of being reviled for being different.
No matter who wins tonight, I take heart in the fact that at least 2.5 million others feel the way I do. Because in the end, it’s proof that humanity hasn’t yet lost.