tomorrow is now.

*views expressed in this post are solely my own*

In the final year of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt declared, “It is today that we must create the world of the future. Tomorrow is now.”

Yesterday, at 10.25 am, I wept in a gas station parking lot in the Missouri Ozarks. Tears of joy and release and hope for what felt like the first time in four years.

74 million Americans voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. More than any Presidential election in history. Beyond politics, beyond legislature this was a referendum on the America we want to be. Not only the America we see within our borders but also the America we project to the world.

So together, the world watched. From India to Ireland. From Edinburgh to Lawrence. The world held its breath. And finally, with a collective sigh of release, the world wept with joy.

Tomorrow is now.

Four years ago, I shed a very different type of tears. I remember it vividly from my flat in Edinburgh, Scotland. At just nineteen, the world seemed open, expansive, broad… until it wasn’t. I screamed. I sobbed. I felt lost, alone, abandoned, and set adrift from my country an ocean away.

I wept into my friends’ arms. I still remember how tightly I hugged Ellie as I cried or held Tuva’s hand as I watched Hillary Rodham Clinton tell the world with impeccable composure and grace to, “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”

Four years ago, I had to believe Hillary’s ideas could not die with the 2016 election. If they did, then what did that mean for me? A young, ambitious, American woman seeking the best future for herself. What did that mean for my kid sister? Too young to vote to protect her future. What did that mean for our lands and waters and forests and canyons? What did that mean for the American experiment and the dignity and integrity of those hallowed words sent to page: “We the people.”

I could not allow myself to believe that it was over. If I did, what was the use in still fighting for what was right? What was the point?

I had to stay loud. I had to continue to speak, even if my voice shook. Even if I was terrified. I had to believe in something better. I had to still fight to ensure that “We the people” meant all the people.

The dignity of the individual is too great a cost to lose.

So, I marched. I wrote my representatives, I phonebanked, I donated, I signed petitions. I got into what John Lewis would call “good trouble.” Throughout it all, I never forgot the fear and abandonment of November 2016. Those feelings of helplessness terrified me and I vowed to never see more young Americans go through it.

For four years, I did what I could, wherever I was in the world, to ensure my international friends could see that a light of hope still burned in America. I became the America they needed to see. The tolerant America. The loving America. The America I knew and still believed in.

But, it’s always darkest before the dawn, isn’t it? Before the charge of the light brigade, before the bursting of the dam, before Gandalf arrives on the morning of the third day with the Rohirrim to turn the tide at the Battle of Helm’s Deep. Anyway…

Tomorrow is now.

Four years ago, my kid sister couldn’t vote. Yesterday, I got to see the smile on her face as she knew that she contributed to protecting our American democracy.

Tomorrow is now.

Four years ago, Kamala Harris was elected as a Senator from California. She was the first female Black senator since 1999. Yesterday, she accepted her role as Vice President-elect. The first woman. The first Black woman. The first South-Asian woman. The first child of an immigrant in a country built by immigrants.

Tomorrow is now.

Dressed in Suffragette white, the Vice President-elect stood on the shoulders of the women who had come before her. On the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, women across the country saw yet another glass ceiling shatter into thousands of shimmering, glimmering pieces.

Then, after her, Joe Biden spoke in full, articulate sentences about the need to heal. To protect one another. To value our differences because they make us strong. To respect human dignity. Like a calming wave, I watched as the camera panned over the crowd. Settling on children, adults, and the elderly. Each spark of life, each voice, that stood up to protect our American democracy.

In 2016, I wrote here on the blog:

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

We have to get up and keep fighting for change. We might have been defeated here but we only fail if we give up. Defeat is what happens when you stop trying. Failure is just a growing pain of progress.

I am beyond saddened by the result, but I know that we need to keep moving forward. We can allow this to knock us down, but we cannot allow this outcome to keep us from getting back up. We cannot dwell in our sadness and regret. We have to channel those emotions into creating the America I know we can be. We have to keep fighting for tolerance and equality.

If I learned anything from my pretentious university degree it was this: History is alive. History sways and adapts and changes, but like a river it is always moving. It builds on itself, reacting to events days, months, sometimes even years before. But, everything is connected. We are here today because of the responsibility and grace and drive for change of those before us. And lest we forget, our own actions will reverb through the generations long after we are gone.

So, with integrity, imagination, courage, and a high heart…

Tomorrow is now.

We are the government. The basic power still lies in the hands of the citizens. But we must use it. That means that in every small unit of government, each individual citizen must feel his responsibility to do the best with his citizenship that he possibly can achieve.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1962)

Why I’m 110% With Her

Hello again! It’s me, your friendly neighborhood expat here to talk to you about the US Presidential Elections… which is today.

I’ve thought a lot about how to write this post, because undoubtedly getting political gets people upset… but I realized that I couldn’t stay silent. I also realized I didn’t want to.

I’m not going to pretend I know everything about politics, because I don’t.  I am writing from one view in this post: the America I know we are and the America I know we can be.

I am 19. This is my first election. I was so proud to be able to vote for Hillary.  In a lot of ways she started out just like me: a young university student with the drive and desire to reach her goals and create change.  I am sitting here writing this as a second year university student hoping one day I can help future generations like Hillary has helped mine.

Not to mention she is so, so, so qualified. She’s been a Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State. Her career spans over 40 years of public service. In those 40 years she’s faced difficulty and instead of allowing it to beat her – she rose above it.  She’s been under the political microscope of America for over 40 years. Guys seriously, they’ve examined her damn emails dozens of times and haven’t found anything.

And you know, I agree, she’s not perfect. But, people aren’t perfect. No president in our history has ever been perfect. Not Washington, not Lincoln, not FDR, not JFK, not even Obama. But, they do they best they can in the places they can, guided by a genuine desire to serve the American people.

That’s what the job is about: service. Not fame. Not fortune. It’s service.

This election goes beyond politics. This election, at its core, is about what version of the American people we want to be and how we want to present ourselves to the world.

Donald Trump is a misogynist.  He’s a racist.  He’s a bigot.  Donald Trump represents the ugliest part of our country and he’s raised his supporters on a xenophobic crusade to make ‘America Great Again.’ Great for who though?  Certainly not women, African-Americans, Latinos, the disabled, and the LBGTQA+ community just to name a few.

As a young woman, watching Donald Trump is horrifying.  He has bragged about sexually assaulting young women. Let me repeat that for the people in the back, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States of America, has publicly bragged about attacking women. Because that’s what sexual assault is – it is an attack meant to physically and psychologically hurt a person.   

 And, guys, seriously? Seriously?!  Tapes come out with actual audio of Donald Trump saying absolutely vulgar things about women and people are still defending him.  He’s insulted women in person, over the phone, in interviews, on live television.  When the women he’s attacked have come forward he’s called them liars.  ‘Oh, that’s just typical Donald.’ What? No. That is not a valid excuse.

There is no excuse for sexual assault.  We should have zero tolerance for this behavior.

It is absolutely disgusting people excuse this behavior.  It is beyond me how people can find this behavior funny, charming, or the qualities of a leader. ‘But wait! He tells it like it is!’ they protest.

Do you know what excusing Trump’s behavior tells me about my country? What it tells the rest of the world? (Because guys, the US elections isn’t surprise! just an American thing!) It tells me women don’t matter. It tells me I don’t matter. What happens to me is just part of ‘like it is’ in America.  It tells me it is perfectly acceptable for men to act however they want toward me, because if Trump can do it then by extension any man who supports Trump can do and say the same things.

It’s 2016, I’ve got essays to write, lectures to attend, and mountains to climb.  I don’t want to have to waste my time also watching out for orange cheese-puff perverts.  Call me a nasty Feminist bitch for it, I don’t care.  It’s beyond inappropriate and I’m tired of this behavior being acceptable.

Someone please explain to me how you can look yourself in the mirror and morally agree with Trump?  How can you look at your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, cousins, and friends and agree with Trump?

Speaking of other completely fucked up things about this election, the Ku Klux Klan aka the white supremacist group that burnt crosses in people’s yards, brutally murdered people, and publicly lynched African-Americans endorsed Donald Trump.  In fact, just the other day the KKK set fire to an African-American church and graffitied it with ‘Vote Trump.’

I have had panic attacks thanks to this election. I can’t imagine what my country could turn into with this behavior at the helm.  I fear for my education, my access to healthcare, and my career… and that’s just thinking of myself: upper middle class, white, female.  I look at Hillary and see one of the the most qualified individuals ever to run for the Presidency and she is still in contest with a megalomaniac xenophobe.

I can’t even comprehend what thoughts are going through the minds of minorities or the LGBTQA+ communities. I don’t have the experiences and it would be inappropriate for me to even try to speak for them, but, guys, just know I’m standing beside you, behind you, wherever you need me to stand.

There are times, especially recent times, I have been so embarrassed to call myself an American.  I am embarrassed of this the version of America we are presenting to the world.  The international community is beyond floored that Trump made it this far.

This election has rocked the very core of American society.  However we move forward tomorrow will forever change the trajectory of our country.  Just a simple look back at the 20c can show what happens when a loud movement blames a minority.  This is the moment things either change for the better or for the worse.

One man isn’t the issue, Donald Trump, alone, can be ignored.  It’s the mob mentality created by Trump that is the issue.  It is the disgusting ideas about women, minorities, and the LGBTQA+ community that have spread across our country.  It’s ideas rooted in the fear of difference and intolerance and how they have become accepted by a portion of American society.  Just the other day a peaceful protester was brutally beaten at a Trump rally.  Another protester, this time at a Clinton rally, had his rights defended by none other than President Obama.

Which is why I’m with her – because I know this is not who we are.  I know this hatred and rage is not who we are.  I have faith that the American people will overcome this fear.  It’s a new different America than what people are used to, and to some that makes it scary, but to the rest, this new America is the greatest we’ve ever been.

As much as I’m afraid for the future, I am also excited because the American people I know won’t let bigotry and hatred define who they are.  So please, get out to the polls and exercise your right to vote.  Show the world who we really are: a melting pot of cultures, a land where differences are celebrated, a forum for new ideas, a community of acceptance and tolerance.

Show the world the America I know.

That’s the America I am proud to be a citizen of.