Nov 11 2016

Just Another Obligatory Post-Election Post

It’s the first time I’ve sat down to write since the election results, so I’m pretty sure this is the post where I’m supposed to bare my soul and share my viewpoints and try to convince people that either my elation or my utter despair is the correct response.

I’m not going to do that. I won’t.

That said, it would feel super weird (and more than a little icky) to just dive back into writing about my own precious kiddos and my own little life. I can’t pretend like the election didn’t happen. It happened. I see it. I acknowledge it. It seems completely bizarre to talk about anything else.

So right now, I can do this: I will address it by addressing that I do not currently wish to address it.

Some might think that it is un-American to refrain from disclosing my choice, that I should be grappling for the nearest megaphone to shout WHY I AM RIGHT — after the polls have closed, after the decision has been made — and I definitely get the feeling that I am in the minority about this. I know how almost all my loved ones voted, and it’s not because I followed them into the booth and peered surreptitiously over their shoulders. I know because they told me.

I find this kind of transparency commendable, provided that it is accompanied by some degree of tact and class and kindness and respect. I am fascinated by ALL positions — and whether you are my friends or family members or almost-strangers in my Facebook feed, I tip my proverbial hat to you, sirs and madams, for summoning the courage to express your views. Thank you for bravely and thoughtfully sharing your perspectives with me. I’m listening. I’m nodding. I’ve heard all of it, and I want to know more.

But I definitely wouldn’t blame you if you turned to me and said, “You know? It’s really none of your business.”

Is there a polite way to say None of your business? If so, then let’s agree to say that instead. But on a fundamental level, it just isn’t.

People have every right to ask. And we have every right not to tell them.

As part of the tenth grade curriculum, I used to teach the Declaration of Independence. We always paused to discuss the word “duty,” and I am still bowled over by the weight of such a thing. If I am not happy with the direction of the country, it is my DUTY to change it. My RESPONSIBILITY. What an incredibly profound power we’ve been given — what a heavy, sobering charge.

But I can try to change it by my vote — and my next vote, and my next — and not by raising my voice or my fists.

I’ve found that most bloggers are not in this camp. Maybe they really are stronger than I, more fearless, more self-assured. Maybe one day I will get there, too. Maybe one day my “platform” will reach such epic proportions that I will have no choice but to announce, every time, precisely where I stand.

In the meantime, here is where I stand: I believe in kindness. I believe in goodness. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in tolerance and acceptance and civility and hard work. I believe that our daughters will absolutely shatter glass ceilings and I believe that our sons should be gentlemen. I believe in this country, and I am so, so grateful that I am inexplicably fortunate enough to live here.

I am not embarrassed by my beliefs. I’m just fiercely protective of that hard-won secret ballot. My own parents don’t even know how I voted this time. (Sorry, Mom and Dad. I know you’ve been curious. xoxo.)

People assume I am a liberal because I’m a female who worked in public education for over a decade. People assume I am a conservative because I grew up in Bloomfield Hills. They assume I am a liberal because I went to college in one of the most left-leaning cities in the country. And they will assume I am a conservative because of this post, because I am choosing to protect my right to privacy.

All or none of those things might be true. So might anything in between. For now, I do not wish to speak.

At the moment, I think it is more important to listen.

About Melissa

Melissa Bowers is a high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. Her days used to be filled with great works analyses and discussions of intricate film and literary techniques, but they are now consumed by a curious toddler, a spirited 4-year-old, and the desperate urge to write ALL THE THINGS -- which generally occurs a paragraph at a time whenever the children happen to nap. Since moving to California, her work has been published by Writer's Digest and The Writer, and her articles are regularly featured on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BlogHer, and others.

9 comments on “Just Another Obligatory Post-Election Post

  1. Reading from Bloomfield Hills!!!! So wonderfully written and I’m in 1000% agreement with you. Just talked to my Mom today- she is also not disclosing who she voted for. Good on you! 😊

  2. I totally agree! Not one person knows how I voted and I like it that way. My almost 8 year old went with me and before we talked about how it’s a personal thing and you have the right to tell no one how you vote, despite any pressure you may get or assumptions people will make about you! From one Bloomfield Hills gal to another 😊

    • Love that you brought your child! So important for them to learn the process, and to see that it’s something Mommy does. We set up a fake ballot booth for our three-year-old, but I don’t know if she fully gets it yet. 🙂

  3. i agree that our personal choices on the ballot dont need to be vocalized. if asked i suppose i’d reply. but ive certainly tried not to shove my choice down people’s throats. all this does is alienate people who we would otherwise be able to engage in meaningful conversation with. this leads to people feeling they need to keep their vote a secret (im not pointing at you, im just saying i know there are lots of people swimming in mostly liberal or conservative groups who go into the poll booth to vote ‘against’ the grain of the friends and family they are surrounded by). i feel bad that they feel they need to keep it a secret. mainly because they are the voices we need to hear (again, maybe not their specific vote, per se, but the WHY they are leaning one way or another, how do others weigh the issues, how do others make decisions). these are all important things we could learn from, if we could only learn to speak kindly and listen respectfully. when im angry about these results, i try to only vent to people i know are ‘with me’ because i know the first things i say will not be rational or generous. but later, i am coming back to myself and weighing things and want to hear other perspectives. now we are not divided. the voting happened, now we are all americans again. we need to find where we DO agree. and we can only do that by TALKING. we dont have to share who we voted for, but we do have to talk about what we feel is right and wrong. we have to be brave in that, and we have to try to deliver our beliefs in a way that doesnt shut other people down. my first thought with things regarding this…why cant we all come to talk together about what we are going to do about the feeling some people have that they arent safe? for those who voted for Trump for example who dont like to be called racist, sexist, etc. we need to hear your voice now. again, you dont need to start off with ‘i voted for trump but i dont condone…’ i just mean we should all be able to enter the conversation about where we can meet regarding people’s safety. the VP-elect thinks we can electrocute the gay out of people. do we all think that? are we going to push back if that comes up as an issue in the Senate? muslim intimidatation. what are we going to do about this? what about people who are of hispanic-descent but are citizens and came here legally. how are we going to treat them? what about all of us women? is it okay that we walk around now, needing to be in groups after dark to feel safe? and if some assault does bring us to court, we likely wont be believed in this social climate. we were making tiny bits of head way on this, and we cant slide back. we need all the voices on the sides of supporting these issues to come back out. at this point the election is over. whatever side you fell on for that, its over. where are you now, on the ISSUES that we can take one by one. we should ALL be able to talk about this. so that is where i have a problem with the silence. 🙂

    • Let me be clear that I am not advocating for silence or inaction. I am advocating for listening. You’re right: no matter what we believe, it is absolutely important to talk about the issues — and many, many, MANY people are. It feels like everyone, in fact. The world is loud right now. There is a whole lot of “talking” going on at the moment, and I think it’s also okay to step back and take all of that in before formulating a response. We can’t all talk at once — some of us need to make an effort to listen.

      Too often, I speak before I think. Really trying to work on that.

  4. Amen. You expressed exactly my position. It seems everyone I know except me has expressed their views on the election, both before and after, on Facebook, blogs, and every other forum out there. And that’s their right that I protect fiercely! However, I won’t be joining in. I had my vote, I used it, it’s over and now we get on with it.

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