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2016 Election on November 9: We Need to Find our Common Humanity

My granddaughter in 2008

Published in ChicagoNow, October 26, 2016

Yesterday, my ten-year-old granddaughter reported her classmate was “voting” for Donald Trump. She lives in a very liberal college town and I’m guessing this boy was the only one in the class not supporting Hillary Clinton. When I told her it was his right to support whichever candidate his chose, she seemed mystified.

So, I shared with her what I shared with one of my readers who agrees with so many of my posts, just not the political ones:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Often attributed to Voltaire, this quote was actually written by a female Voltaire biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in 1903. So here I was, some 113 years later, trying to explain this to a young girl who is not surprised that a woman could become President.

I generally avoid writing political posts because I know I will receive some pretty harsh comments. Being a very sensitive woman who takes all criticism to heart, I hesitated to join the ugly political fray when I wrote A Nasty Woman Responds, Trump’s Son’s Advice to Women: “Go Teach Kindergarten,” Bullying: Setting Kids on Fire, Creepy Clowns, Locker Room Talk and Other Hated-Filled Acts, and Voting: The Time I Threw my Vote Away and Other Tales from a Faithful Voter.

Predictably, I received lots of thumbs-up responses from people who think like me and some pretty harsh comments from those who don’t. But I learned something important as well. After I posted the Hall quote in response to the reader whose politics differ from mine, I added that I thought, “Yep, here we are again. Can’t wait for this election to be over because I know we both care and agree on some important issues.” And he replied, “Yes, we sure do. Thank you for what you do.”

That exchange sums up the healing that needs to take place after this long and bitter election. And it is the value I tried to pass on to my granddaughter. I know it seems funny when parents are passionate about liking or hating a candidate and share this with their children. Guilty as charged. In 1973 during the Watergate scandal, I encouraged my two-year-old son to hit the television set every time Nixon appeared on it and say, “Bad, bad man.”

In hindsight, I wish I had not done that. Many years later, as a preschool director during the 2000 and 2004 elections after Bush defeated Gore and then Kerry, many preschoolers cried in school. They were worried because a “bad man” was President. Remember, I live in a pretty liberal community. But I saw how frightened the kids were and realized that the anger and hatred generated by our electoral campaigns are not good for children who are unable to view politics from a historical perspective. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But our country endures.

One of the things that made me most proud of Cherry Preschool was the message we gave to children about acknowledging and appreciating differences. I thought about this value in terms of race, ethnicity, ability, religion, economic resources, and family structure. But I never applied it to politics.

I’m not reneging on what I espoused in my blog posts and still plan to cast my early vote this Friday for Hillary, who I hope will be our first woman President. My loyal reader will cast his for Trump. Like many voters this year, neither of us could possibly persuade the other to vote differently.

But once this awful election is over, we all need to look for the values that we share, the things that unite us. In the end, it is our common humanity that will help to heal the wounds.


by Laurie Levy
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