Facing grief, life, cancer with truth, not homilies.
Midterms-My Incredible Daughter
If you live in the US, politics are upon you whether you like it or not. This midterm election is one of the most significant moments I can recall during the five decades I’ve been able to vote. Politics flow through my body. I believe that everything that happens in our lives is politics. I know there are many who would disagree, who are deaf to political dialogue, who have never or may never cast a ballot.
I am appalled by this neglect of a right that has been bled over, all around the world as well as in this country. To blithely set it aside is abhorrent to me and a slap in the faces of those who struggled so hard to get this voice.
I try hard to understand why people choose to disenfranchise themselves. I wonder about alienation, about the feeling of being outside or above or beyond the fray. The fray that truly envelops all the parts of our lives, that often go unnoticed until a ruling or an institution slaps you upside the head and you think, “Oh no way, wait a minute.”
Personally I’ve always felt my private politics separate me from the mainstream. I don’t think that my perfect world could ever happen. But I’ve always believed that the common good is important and that exercising my privilege of voting and being present are ways to get closer to what may improve conditions for many people. I certainly don’t think that any of my ideals would ever make life worse for anyone, except for perhaps those whose wealth is insanely disproportionate to that of an average person. My equalization ideas might rankle them.
So I’m waiting for tomorrow and hoping that all the millennials vote, and that people in all the generations vote, and I hope the results help erase some of the horror that the past two years have been like for so many. I truly can’t understand how any woman can cast a ballot that will help support the policies of our current administration. I’ve recently watched Trump-supporting women being interviewed and can only ascribe their acceptance of our current government as a narrowly held world view that shuts out the blatant misogyny in favor of a creed I don’t fathom.
I’m so disappointed that my long-term participation in the efforts for equal rights for women, and my working with all my women allies toward tearing down the age-old patriarchal system still has so far to go. I’ve thought a lot about the #metoo movement and remembered my youthful experiences that I thought I’d put behind me. They are still so blatant. And then in the midst of the pondering, I started thinking a lot about my remarkable daughter. I’m sure there are countless people who have remarkable daughters and who have every reason to be proud of them. More power to them all. But my daughter is a warrior. And here’s why.
My baby girl seemed to have been born with her face into the wind. As an infant, anyone could see the determination that is such an integral part of her personality. Trying to reach a toy just beyond her grasp. Watching Superman, the movie, at age 4 and anouncing that a man must have made the film because she’d never cry and scream the way the female lead was doing. Learning to read before starting school. Seeing cheerleaders for the first time and crossing her arms across her chest and saying, “when I grow up I’m going to be a sports girl and they can cheer for me.” On and on it goes. Raising her was a challenge. Michael used to say he was so glad I was around because he believed everything she said while she ran circles around him emotionally. She had no social filters. Whatever ran through her head came right out of her mouth. Making and keeping friends was tough. But she plunged ahead.
She was a remarkably talented athlete. She never had an awkward stage. A talented flute player, who was recognized for excellence at the state level, she struggled to balance sports, music and utterly convincing acting skills while enjoying academic success.
As a small child she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian but learned that math was a critical part of that program. That caused an immediate pivot and at age 7, she announced that she wanted to be a lawyer. She never changed her mind.
The growing up years were a jumble of sorting through the skills needed to navigate a successful personal life, while simultaneously enjoying watching our girl stack up amazing accomplishments, one on top of the other. Academic success, athletic and musical talent that brought awards and accolades,were extended through level after level of school. Our girl was nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year as a senior in college and at age 36, was inducted into her college’s Hall of Fame for her athletic achievements, in addition to being perennially academic all-conference.
When she attended law school, she won the Avery Brundage Award for excellence in athletics while achieving a stellar academic record. The time blew by fast and at age 25, she began practicing law. Along the way, she committed herself to her community. I can’t begin to enumerate the number of volunteer services she has provided in her hometown. She has served as a mentor for years, in addition to being president of the mentoring board. She served on our local park district advisory committee. She is an adjunct professor at her former law school, coaching trial advocacy teams. There is a laundry list of all the other activities she has participated in, including coaching volleyball for four years at her high school, meanwhile marrying and having two children. But I am digressing.
What does any of this shameless bragging have to do with the midterms? Women need to sway this election, at least in my opinion. Somehow, this country needs to shift back to values that are representative of sane, measured principles rather than wild fear mongering. The steady dismantling of all the programs which provide the underpinnings of a positive culture which benefits its citizens needs to stop. Benefits for all citizens, regardless of sex, race or creed, need to be reinstated.
My daughter is an educated professional who after 6 years of private practice, switched gears and took her talent to the position of assistant federal public defender. Her years of studying government, and her thoughtful consideration of the most essential cornerstone of our country’s ideology, the Constitution, which every politician invokes at one time or another, led her to believe that the purest form of practicing law would be in that office.
As Amendment VI to the Constitution states:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
This Article gives fundamental protections to everyone, whether indigent or rich, regardless of sex, race, religion or political belief. The right to a fair trial. The people who fall into this system, as outlined by law, are my daughter’s clients. She believes that her job is to represent them to the best of her ability, as is promised by the Constitution.
My strong, dedicated daughter practices this type of law in her hometown. Sometimes the charges against her clients are heinous. Many local citizens are either ignorant of, or don’t care about the rights of the accused. People are tried in the press and are judged guilty before they ever are seated in front of a jury of their peers. And my valiant daughter, puts her chin up and contends with all forms of disdain, hatred and abuse, because she is doing her job. She is approached with disbelief and asked how could she defend this or that client. I have no idea how she tolerates these ignorant assaults. Yet, in truth, I recognize that her determination and solid commitment to a set of fair standards holds her steady in the face of adversity. She could have chosen an easier path. But she devotes her service to the most disenfranchised members of our society. And I admire her for that. I hope that other women just like her lead the way tomorrow. I hope they dominate in their elections.
Many people will never get what she’s doing. But people like her, and the family she and her husband are raising, are the hope of the future. People like her who work their tails off every day, doing the right thing against all the pressure, all the odds, will reset the course of this country and re-establish the ethical and moral standards that have been discarded at a dizzying pace during the past 2 years. My daughter is hope, courage and commitment to a time-tested set of principles. Principles don’t change like weather. They just are. And they are supposed to be just.
That’s how the midterms and my kid became part of one story. I know I can depend on her to continue on the difficult journey she chose because it is right. My hope for tomorrow’s midterm results is that people in this country are moving on the same path and that the slide into chaos will be halted. I’ll be watching. I hope you will be, too.