by Teddi Sakellarides
Last Friday, I scrolled through my phone and counted 16 texts and emails from individual people (Hillary-supporters and non-supporters alike) telling me they were sorry for my loss, that they knew how disappointed I was, that they were aware of my 10-year commitment to this candidate, and they were sad I didn’t get the woman president I had dreamed about for so long. The messages were genuine and written in a language that truly reflected a form of deep sadness.
The fact that people felt the need to write me and say these things reminded me of what is critically important:
A woman president mattered.
This campaign mattered.
This loss matters.
It will continue to matter.
There was a widely-circulated narrative during the election that there was simply no enthusiasm or excitement surrounding Hillary. For whatever reason, people really valued this narrative. They liked thinking that Hillary was a weak last-option and that the majority of her supporters were just passionless voters shrugging their shoulders in resignation and pressing a button because no one else was available. Her supposed mediocrity made a lot of people feel better about her success and (I believe) in women’s success in general. A woman could be a default option; nothing more.
But this story simply wasn’t true. All the messages people sent me are proof it wasn’t. I was excited and hopeful about Hillary, possessing the joy and zeal that no one wanted to think actually existed in her fan-base. And I wasn’t the only one, either. Over the last three days I have talked and cried with so many people who exhibit a disappointment so intense it resembles nothing short of grief. They were people who the morning after the election asked “How are you?” and then could barely answer the question themselves without their voices cracking. They were people who lost sleep, who didn’t know how to go throughout their day, who walked around in a fog feeling like they lost something irreplaceable–not only an election, but an entire hope for the future and vision for their home. They were sad Trump won, but they were also sad Hillary lost. They didn’t just reject him; they believed in her. That’s an important distinction, and it debunks all the claims that Hillary was nothing more than a last-resort. People were invested in her campaign. They cared and believed.
The sadness that comes with this is real and profound, but it will inevitably subside. It may evolve into anger, and hopefully after that, resistance and activism. In the meantime, I am honored to be surrounded by people who are sad, because it reminds me that the last year and a half was not for naught; it reminds me that it all mattered, and that it will continue to matter. One day I’ll tell my daughters I was a part of an important effort in this country, and I grieved with others when it didn’t work. And although it wasn’t a win, I’ll tell them all that with pride too.