My sweet babies,
Here's what I want you to know about voting: we do it.
As you grow up, you'll decide what you want to believe and who you want to vote for, but I hope you'll always vote. And, what's more, I hope you'll always vote, not out of cynicism or fear or a sense of "if I have to", but out of a genuine sense of hope that we all have the power to make the world better than it is, even if we can't always see the change from where we're standing.
I've gotten a bit teary these past few weeks every time I think about that last bit. One of my good friends is a suffragette history buff, and she got me started reading a biography of Alice Paul. It's a part of history that I've never thought much about, but it's hitting me right in the feels this election season.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony died having never seen women get the vote. They never saw their life's work come to fruition. But, because of women like them, my daughter--knock on wood--will never remember a world where a woman can't be president. That, my darlings, is a real-deal, rubber-meets-the-road example of paying it forward.
There had to be moments where they were discouraged. There had to be moments when they felt like they weren't doing any good. But, by god, they pressed on.
There will be times in your life when you will feel the same. You'll look around and see ideas you believe in with your whole heart and soul being used as cheap soundbites. You'll see people you respect being outright lied about. You'll see smallness and meanness, and they'll seem to be taking over faster than the good can shine through, like a swarm of terrifying army ants.
In those moments, I want you to think of the people who fought these fights before you. They experienced all those things--the ugly parts of life are not new, unfortunately--but they pressed on. They didn't let cynicism and bitterness cripple them into inaction, and neither can you.
Instead, take a deep breath and square your chin. Be proud to have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of the good people who came before you. Be proud of carrying on their work to make the world better. And, for goodness sake, even when it's hard keep fighting that good fight.
While there are many ways to do that, of course, a big part is staying informed, researching your ballot, and showing up to the voting booth whenever you have the opportunity.
This year I'm voting because I've been #withher since the first time someone patted me on the head and said it was "adorable" that I wanted to be president. Because I think female people and brown people and gay and lesbian people and refugee people are all...well, people.
I'm voting because Kansas already has some damn good appellate judges. I disagree with them maybe 95% of the time, but I believe that people can disagree about the law and still be fit for the legal profession. Our judges are good, smart people who are trying to apply the law fairly, and that's the best any of us can ask for.
I'm voting because our state legislators and county officials deserve my support for the thankless tasks of funding our schools and fixing our roads and darning the gaping holes in our mental health safety net.
But mostly, I'm voting for you, Knox and Bette. My presidential vote won't swing Kansas blue, and--with or without my vote--Lawrence will burn to the ground a second time before she's in any danger of going red. But, nonetheless, tomorrow morning we will get up early, put on patriotic t-shirts, and drive to our polling place. We'll take silly pictures, and slap our "I Voted" stickers on our chests with pride. We'll go get celebratory donuts after.
Because, more than all the rest of it, I want you to know that--even if it doesn't seem like much, even if you can't always see the direct causation--this is mostly how you change the world: little by little, in achingly small increments, one vote at a time.
All the much,
P.S. Kids, if you're reading this as an adult, and it's Election Day, come pick me up. Donuts are my treat!