A big day for America. We’ve elected a new President and VP. It’s always a big day, no matter who is running and who wins. It’s big for so many reasons. Sometimes it means a change in direction for the country. Out with the old and in with the new. Sometimes it means 4 more years of the same stuff that was happening before. Whether you like those things or not. But today there were firsts, like when Obama was elected.
On that night in 2008, we sat as a family on our big bed in Snoqualmie and watched Obama and his young family walk onto that stage in Chicago. They were the youngest family in the White House in a long, long time and the very first Black First Family. I cried watching them and my daughter, Emilie, asked me why. I told her that it was wonderful to watch a smart, capable person of color achieve the highest office in our country. I explained his mixed race, his background and the long hard road he had to tread. She was 6 years old and she nodded.
‘Do does that mean I could be president someday?’ She asked innocently.
I broke down. ‘Yes.’ I told her. ‘You can be anything you want to be. No matter where you come from.’ And I meant that.
Today after seeing the speeches given by the new President on unity. And seeing my first choice for President, Kamala Harris, speaking on the long road so many have tread and our choice of democracy. ‘[this is for] women who could see what could be, instead of what came before.’ And it’s made me remember Emilie’s question to me that night. Kamala is Black and Asian. Our Emilie is Black, Asian and Irish. I look at Kamala and I see my daughter, who wants to go to law school and run for office someday. VP-elect Harris delivered a message to the children of the country tonight ‘Dream with ambition and lead with conviction. And see yourselves in a way others may not. Simply because they’ve never seen it before.’ I see a future full of inclusion and strength. Hope for a brighter future.
And I’m not alone. Europe, who has been holding it’s breath on the outcome of our election, so far from it’s shores, breathed a collective sigh of relief. And then they started celebrating. I know it may be hard to believe how invested, and deeply impacted, the rest of the world is in our elections in the US. But they matter, as much as their own. El Pais devoted the last few days, not to the virus raging the country, but to our election in the US. These are just a few headlines below the fold.
And in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland – where we spent Christmas of 2018 – they’re a proud, happy lot. It’s the birth place of Joe Biden’s great-great-great grandfather and they’re celebrating in the village like it was Joe himself as their native son. Irish diaspora runs deep there. See my posts from the area here, here and here. It’s a wonderful place but the history is brutal for those who lived under plantation rule, as Biden’s ancestors surely did. Cheers, Ballina! A plucky little village on the dramatic West Coast of Ireland.
Here are some other scenes from around the EU.
I think it was the church bells of Paris that really got me. Like it was VE day and the war is now over. But, of course, it’s not. Democracy is a fragile thing. It must never be taken for granted or ignored like an elderly relative. Something old fashioned and out of date. Today, Democracy is cool again. And just in time. Those in the EU understand that. Too many are still alive who have lived under dictatorship and fascism, not just flirting with it as we have. It’s a slippery slope and they know it when they see it.
Henry Havcock Ellis wrote ‘All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.’ It’s time for a new chapter in America. It’s time to let go of the last 5 years (yes, I’m including the election season of 2016) and grab hold of our future. For coming together and working on the very grave problems facing our country and the world. This is the first day in a very long time that I think we can do it. All of Europe agrees. Let’s get to work. Together.