I sit here feeling sorry for myself. For my children. And, yes, and for the rest of the country. In the shadow of the 2016 presidential campaign and election, I grieve for the losses in my country. I weep. I mourn.
I have spent most of my life being politically active. I come from a family of idealists. Irish rebels, defense attorneys, environmentalists, educators. As a teenager, I worked in political campaigns. At university, I walked in protests. After college, I studied law. For my first job, I worked in environmental law. At 35 I ran for the Washington state legislature.
You see, I am a baby boomer. I went to college in the late 60s during the Vietnam War. And though not all baby boomers were socially active, some of us were. We believed in a revolutionary idea that the government and our elected servants should tell us the truth. We believed in equality, education, and a decent life for all.
I am proud to have been part of that time. I am grateful to those who marched with me. It is an exciting era that produced the women’s, environmental, and civil rights movements.
20 years ago I left the United States. I worked in war-torn Sierra Leone, and I taught law and history in Europe and Asia at international universities and high schools. Now I have returned to a country I hardly recognize.
What did you do with it while I was gone?
I know you have been working very hard. I came home to find our African American president provided healthcare for all Americans. I see that my friends are judges, counselors, and doctors. I watch my daughters and their friends working as teachers- teaching our children so they will be better informed and more compassionate world citizens. Working to make beautiful parks available to everyone. Working for the poor, the immigrants. They recycle, take mass transportation, and vote. They are moms raising politically, caring individuals.
I know that the work begun so many years ago will never be finished. At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy.” Franklin is believed to have said, “A republic . . . if you can keep it.”
So, here we are. What are we going to do now?
I am going to write to my servants who work in Washington. I am going to campaign for a Democratic legislature in 2018. I am going to go on marches.
And I am going to make art.