Dear Vivienne Mae,
You arrived at a strange time. Things on your end may seem the same as they ever were, but for those of us who have been around awhile, it’s been a troubling year.
You were born healthy to a middle class family in the most powerful nation the world has ever known. Your parents are generous, educated and loving. You live 30 minutes from Boston, a city known for its universities, biotech startups and museums. You are off to a good start.
But today, just 11 days after you were born, your country is making a historic choice. You will learn in school someday about what happened the day America elected either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, and what happened in the year that led up to that moment.
Long ago, before either of us had gotten here yet, our political system split in two. The two parties weren’t opposite, per se, and they both, for the most part, had the same goal of helping most of us live better, more prosperous lives. (There are some major, major exceptions to this, but that’s for another time). Over the years, there were some steps forward, and certainly some steps back. But then, eight years ago, things took a turn. Barack Obama, the first black man to lead the United States, became president. He believed all people should be treated equally in this land. During his eight years in office, queer people got the right to marry one another. Transgender people finally began to have their voices heard. A black man became the attorney general. Then a black woman did. As in decades past, protest movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter rose up to demand better treatment for people of color, women, poor people, Muslims, and other groups our society has failed to treat with respect and dignity. Other people ― people who look like me ― started to listen for a change. Actually listen. I hope someday you tell me how old fashioned this all sounds to you.
This work of progress is a work in progress, but today we face our biggest challenge yet. Trump ― a cheater, a liar, a sexual predator, a bigot, a misogynist and a demagogue ― unleashed a political fury unlike anything that any of us has seen before. He amplified the once-fringe voices of people who sync their moral philosophies to drumbeats of hate. Trump and his followers attacked women, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Mormons, the disabled and queer people. They even attacked me for being a Jew, and for doing my job as a journalist.
That’s not all. Trump continued the unusual and toxic tradition of his party to deny scientific evidence of climate change. I imagine that may also seem bafflingly funny to you once you’re old enough to read this. If he wins, he stands a good chance of winning again in four years, and after that time his policies will have produced 3.4 billion tons more of carbon pollution than if Clinton’s proposals prevail. I can’t wait to show you New York City someday, but I’m hoping it won’t require us to go snorkeling.
There’s a lot about Clinton that I don’t like, either. But I believe she will propel us forward as a people, and she, by the very nature of who she is, will make history. Tonight some of my friends and colleagues will join her at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The ceiling there is made of glass. You’ll understand the significance of that someday, but I hope that, too, will seem antiquated to you.
Today I voted for Hillary Clinton. Someday maybe I’ll be voting for you.
All my love,
Your godfather, Uncle Alex