We stopped the car in the café parking lot, six minutes before the restaurant would open. Your mother looked at me and nodded.
“So,” I said, turning to face you in the back seat, “there was an election yesterday.”
You knew that, of course. You’ve been paying attention. We’ve been talking about this. You knew history was at hand.
As plain as I could, I told you what had happened. It took all of 10 or 20 seconds to do so. Your mother reminded you that you would be OK; it was important to us that you heard that.
Your eyes did well, if just a bit, but you did not cry. You did not complain. You did not give any hint of anger. You listened and nodded and laughed when I told you that, if nothing else, this leaves open the possibility that you could be the first woman president of our country.
“Of course, you’ll have to be older than I am now,” your mother noted.
Ah yes, that. I did some quick math in my head.
You could run…
… in 2044.
My God, let it not be that long.
It wasn’t until 144 years after our independence that women won the right to vote. Nearly a century later we still haven’t put a woman in the Oval Office. We’ve waited long enough.
Women make up 51 percent of our nation’s population, but just 20 percent of Congress and 25 percent of state-level elected leaders. There’s no sense in this. There’s no sense at all. The halls of our capitol buildings don’t have to be a faultless microcosm of all of the different kinds of diversity in our nation — we enjoy such diversity that this would not be possible — but it should be close. And, particularly where gender is concerned, there is no reason for it not to be. There’s no good reason at all.
But nothing our people have ever done for the cause of equality has come easy. Not human rights. Not voting rights. Not civil rights.
Pray to ask Frederick Douglass. Pray to ask Susan B. Anthony. Pray to ask Martin Luther King. Pray to ask Harvey Milk.
They all saw their promised lands. They may not have gotten there with us — but they knew we, as a people, would get there.
We, as a people, are nomadic by nature. It is among the most defining attributes of our species that we journey, settle, become restless and journey again. There is always another promised land.
There is always another ceiling to smash through. And yes, this one has proven tough to crack, but our people will break through. And it will happen soon. And then we will settle. And then we will become restless. And then we will journey forth again.
There was an election yesterday. And it did not go the way you wanted. But next year, at this time, there will be another vote. And the year after that, there will be another vote. And the year after that, there will be another vote. For school board members and city councilors and mayors and legislators. For senators and representatives and attorneys general and governors.
The cause of creating a government that better reflects our vast diversity — not just in the Oval Office but in every office — will never be our only concern. But it’s clear today, more than ever before, that we can do better. And we will. We will soon.
Mark my words, my child: By the time you’re old enough to be president, it won’t be a big deal that you are.
For history is still at hand.