I admit, I had zero intention of voting yesterday.
I had no inkling who was running or for what office. No clue about a ballot question about property taxes and school funding and what it all meant to my dwindling financial bottom line. Retaining judges? Hello, has anyone even heard of these people?
After the disaster of last November, I was convinced my small vote wouldn’t make one bit of difference, that turnout would be pitiful and, really, what did any of this matter anyway, given the bully in the White House tweeting his way to obliterating all of us from the face of the Earth?
And what’s worse is that despite playing a political analyst, pundit and prognosticator every day on Facebook, I. Just. Didn’t. Fucking. Care. And I knew how hypocritical that made me.
Until Facebook’s always-a-double-kick-to-the-heart On This Day feature reminded me that yes, indeed, I really did take the above photo a year ago, on November 7, 2016.
It really happened.
As if I could forget. As if I – or anyone else – could forget anything about that bizarre, unimaginable week.
I wrote about seeing Hillary Clinton 48 hours before the election in this post (“Seeing Red”). I’ll always remember the glorious, bright blue sky and crisp fall day when she spoke at a final rally on the University of Pittsburgh campus and then crossed the street to say hi to the crowd where I stood.
She looked stunning, confident, resplendent in her red pantsuit. We cheered wildly, equally confident that we were meeting our next President of the United States.
We were so close.
Election Night 2016 will likely be forever seared on my heart. As long as I live, I will never forget holding my then almost-14 year old daughter, both of us sobbing , my telling her I was profoundly sorry that this is the world she would be growing up in.
That no matter who was in the White House, I wanted her to know that I would always, always love and protect her and her brother.
That despite what people in positions of so-called power said, I will always accept both of you and work like hell to make sure both of my children have every opportunity to reach their dreams, no matter who is President, no matter who tries to make you feel less than.
That I wished so much this had been different. That I was so very, very sorry.
My daughter still talks about what we refer to as “Mom’s election night concession speech.” As much as it is seared in my memory, I think it’s one of those moments that will be part of hers forever, too. (Which was my intent, so, #winning.)
So, yeah, last year’s ghosts were (and still are) looming large.
But seeing the picture of my all too brief encounter with Hillary show up on my Facebook feed (as I knew, of course, that it would) provided some kind of fuel to my flagging resistance that I didn’t realize or think I needed.
Hillary would want — no, she would insist — that I get my ass to the polls after my after-work appointment despite the dark and cold evening.
That if I was truly serious about everything I had been screaming into the online ether for the past 364 days and before, that this was what I had to do.
That voting was the way that, at least for today, I could still make my voice heard to protect the rights of my family and for others who are less fortunate than me.
Because — at least for today, I still possessed the right to vote.
So just as I did last year, I walked into the same township building, smiled at the same poll worker who was in the same spot from a year ago, and made small talk about the weather and the turnout.
“I hope you win something,” he said, referencing the slot-machine sound that played when he inserted the cartridge that
sent my data to Russia made my vote count.
“Well, I certainly didn’t last year,” I snarked, receiving not even a half-smirk in response from anyone in our staunchly Republican town.
This is what resistance looks like, I thought, selecting a straight Democratic ticket and voting no on a referendum question. (And yes, I researched both issues on my lunch hour yesterday so I felt fairly well informed.)
This is still what democracy is.
This is why the fight still matters.
She may not have been on the ballot last night. But as I walked out of the same poll booth where I proudly voted for Hillary exactly a year ago, I knew that once again, I was #StillWithHer.