I stood in line outside for about an hour this morning. It was not exactly cold, at least not for a transplanted Yankee who remembers what actual winter feels like. But the line moved pretty quickly. Everyone was friendly and in pretty good spirits.
Following the presidential campaign this year has been exhausting. It started with me, like a lot of other folks, laughing at the idea of Donald Trump as the presidential candidate of a major political party. Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan... Trump. It seemed too preposterous to even be worried about. Something we would read about as an amusing footnote in history books one day.
But it kept happening. And kept happening. And pretty soon he was the nominee, and he was all anyone on any news show could talk about. It got to the point where I dreaded reading the news because I couldn't take hearing any more about this blundering loudmouth ignoramus. I couldn't even bring myself to watch the last two debates. I couldn't imagine I would see anything different than what I'd seen in the first one. From the accounts I read about them afterward, it seems I was basically right.
But finally, today, after all those months of reading columns and watching debates and checking polls, I had a ballot in front of me. And it said "Hillary Clinton - Democrat - President." And I'll be damned if I didn't feel some chills down the back of my neck when I touched the little checkmark next to that name. Because, assuming things go the way I expect them to today (fingers crossed, knock on wood, all of that), we are going to have a woman as president of the USA. It's going to feel a lot different talking to my daughters about politics when I don't have to include disclaimers about how yeah, sure, a woman could be president. There's nothing stopping it from happening. It just... hasn't yet.
It felt good to be part of the end game for a process that started a long time ago, back when women were not even allowed to vote, much less consider running for office. My contribution was a drop in an ocean, sure, but I'm proud to have been part of it. And I'm proud that our country, for all its faults, and its stubbornness, and its resistance to change, we do slowly come around on things that would have been unthinkable a hundred years ago, or even fifty or twenty years ago. Sure, the Trump phenomenon has revealed some ugliness and division that we are going to have to resolve somehow. But in the long run, he will only be a footnote in the history books.
You know, assuming we still keep our history in books.