I Surmise: Letter to My Daughter on the Eve of the Election
My dearest daughter, Sarah,
I write this to you with the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings going on in the background. A woman has been nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States of America to take the place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a justice who worked so fucking hard to give everyone equal rights in our country and who will now be replaced by a woman who will do what she can to take those rights away. How could this have happened?
I found this picture of you when you were 7 years old during the Anita Hill hearings, which I guess I should call the Clarence Thomas hearings, although they really weren’t about him. They were about slandering her and diminishing her and the story she told with such dignity. Now, twenty-seven years later, you’ve graduated from Harvard Law School, worked on the Innocence Project, been awarded by the ACLU for your work, served as one of the authors of the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, worked as a volunteer legal advisor to Joe Biden’s campaign, and served as one of the founders of The Early Vote. I watched you on MSNBC last week: sure-footed, clear, and selfless in your appeal to get people to vote early and in person. I watched you transition from a little girl selling T-shirts on 84th and Broadway which was my pinacle to a force in the world of American progress, trying, always trying, to do right for those less fortunate than we are. I could not be prouder of you.
Someone once told me that he wanted to put his kids on his shoulders so they could see further than his horizon had been growing up. I think that’s a wonderful aspiration, and while I didn’t have it in my mind when you were young, it is certainly what I can see now. Oh, the horizons in front of you! If only you knew how far you have already been able to see, and what that means to your future. Please learn the lesson of looking at what you have accomplished, rather than what you haven’t. It clears the path to move forward without your getting hung up in the rearview mirror.
There are twenty-two days left until the election. I can’t conceive of anything other than success for all the things so many of us are doing to make the outcome one where we can start to build a new future for this country from the ashes of what was destroyed. I’m not just speaking of the destruction that has taken place over the past four years, but also the explosion of what had been simmering throughout all the previous years.
I hold on to the image of you when you were 7 and what you have done since. I hold on to the images of the young girls I see on social media, now reaping what you and your fabulous women friends have planted over these past months. How can I, on behalf of my generation, thank you, apologize, and move on, recognizing that what we weren’t able to do, you are trying to clean up now?
I have a photo of you on MSNBC last week and the one from when you were 7 on my computer screen and in my heart. They will carry me through the next three weeks with hope and certainty that every single thing that can be done is being done. The future of women in America? It’s in our hands. It’s our votes that will determine the outcome. God bless you, my dearest child. Godspeed on your journey over the next three weeks. I will be right behind you, ready to shoulder whatever you give me to help you lead the way.
I love you,