Today’s a strange day for me; a cocktail of conflicting and powerful emotions unlike any previous post-Election Day I have experienced in my (voting) lifetime.
Yesterday was strange, too. On the one hand, I was stalked by feelings of powerlessness and a wonderment as to “How could we have come to this?” How has a country founded on such an explicit belief in the value of principles and ideals be faced with two candidates that seem so utterly devoid of either?
On the other hand, there was a frustration and an anger that it has, indeed, “come to this.” I found myself feeling defiant: whatever inexplicable forces had brought us to this sorry state of affairs, I resolved to slow this slide into absurdity; I would make “them” pay for reducing my country and its election process to these two unappealing choices.
Yet, even as the aftershocks of election day roil us, I feel a deep and tangible hope. But it is a hope rooted neither in the outcome nor in anything that I might do in the coming months as we grapple with our new president and the polarization continues. It is a hope rooted in the briefest and smallest of moments: my wife kissed me out the door and toward the voting book with the revelation that Cormac — Son Number Six in the Susanka line-up — had decided who he would be casting his vote for.
Now, the notion of a voting age is foreign in our household – “America’s Leader” should be voted on by all Americans, right? – so numerous straw polls have been taken over the past few months to determine just how far (and in what direction) the Susanka House was leaning. And finally, at long last, Cormac was ready to vote.
“Who are you voting for?” Sarah prompted.
“Donald Trump,” he responded, shyly.
“Why are you voting for Donald Trump?” I asked.
“Because James said he’s going to lose, and I feel bad for him.”
And there it was; a reminder that the muck and mire we’ve been dragged through over these past few months is not the only terrain upon which these battles are fought. The far greater battle is the one being waged in the hearts of the eight young souls that sit around my table at night; a battle where decency and compassion, honesty and goodwill are far more important — and far more resilient — than they will ever be on the public stage where the tragicomedy of this 2016 election has played out.
Adrift in a sea of slogans that promise to “Make America Great Again” and to be “Stronger Together,” I was reminded that my son and his instinctive goodness are far more likely to make my America great and strong than are the focus-grouped actions of the media-shaped, agenda-driven celebrities we waded through in order to vote, even in our doubt.
My kids give me hope. Cormac’s instinctive compassion gave me heart, yesterday, even when the adults on my ballot could not.