My husband and I grasped hands tightly as we watched the screen. Romney was in the lead and our eyes met, troubled, even fearful. Would the next three Supreme Court justices put laws on my body, on my child’s body, that rendered us baby machines worthy of death? Would the next president not only have nothing but disdain for the poor—but for half the entire population? Would he fight to make sure my friends can’t marry, that those who starve stay that way?
In many ways, this felt like a life-or-death election, and the relief we experienced when CBS declared President Obama winner—and Claire McCaskill winner in our state of Missouri—eased out of us like air from taut, painful balloons. We didn’t scream with joy so much as we had in 2008 but instead trembled with gratitude. Four more years never sounded so good.
I see so many friends on Facebook shaking with rage—I suppose it’s comparable to the way I felt when Bush II was re-elected—but I must wonder at their logic. When volunteering at the polls for our local representative candidate Sam Komo—who barely lost, unfortunately, making me wish we had campaigned for him more—I heard a Republican volunteer declare her party was for freedom. Freedom of what? To marry who you want, to make your own medical decisions? To have other peoples’ religion kept out of laws that govern you? From where I stand, I see no freedoms offered—only curtailed.
Those on Facebook are claiming that they don’t support the president’s healthcare law because people who can’t afford it should not be forced to buy it—yet they maintain that women who cannot afford a pregnancy, a lifetime of change and economic disruption, should be forced to carry it out anyway. Do they not understand their own hypocrisy?
Many claim the Mayans predicted a great awakening, perhaps even a new Renaissance, beginning at the end of this year. I hope with all my heart that such a prophecy is true and that Americans will finally wake up from their post-9/11 state of fear and their post-1970s ideas that “life begins at conception” (prior to which, most religious folks believed it began at birth) and their lack of understanding and acceptance of anyone other than themselves so we can finally move forward toward peace, prosperity, and equality for all.
For today, I am grateful; for tomorrow, I remain hopeful.