In a recent group text of my female friends, a question began circulating: Can anyone explain why it feels so damn good to vote for Elizabeth Warren? Some women in the group had been die-hard Warren supporters from the beginning, while others (like me) had been torn between several candidates. We all tried to put into words why the moment we cast our ballots for Sen. Warren had been moving and emotional for us, and while we struggled to describe exactly what we felt, we all agreed that the phenomenon was real. It did feel good. It felt really good. For almost a week now I haven’t come down from that buzz: the love and hope and pride and defiant confidence that overwhelmed me when I brought my young daughter along on a windy, cold afternoon and early voted for the woman I want to elect president.
My little girl is 6, and she remembers when I took her to vote for Hillary Clinton. We brought along a framed photograph of her great-grandmother, who had recently passed and who had been a strong Hillary supporter and had hoped to see the first female president elected in her lifetime. My daughter remembers being confused in the days following that election and sensing the stress in our household when Hillary lost. As much as we try to not let our kids watch much TV, they have seen clips of Donald Trump mocking people and chanting “lock her up.” They want to know why more people didn’t vote for the smart lady instead of the mean man, and I haven’t figured out a good way to explain it to them yet.
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So it felt powerful to take my daughter back to the voting booth and tell her that we were there to try again. That we don’t give up so easily. That we persist. It felt a like giving my child permission to flip off a bully who has been tormenting her. Voting for Warren felt like having my daughter’s back.
More than that, voting for Warren felt like a statement about who we are, who I am. She makes me want to stand taller and speak more clearly and not shrink myself to make others feel comfortable. As I posted on social media earlier this week, for me, watching Warren on the campaign trail has felt like divine permission for women and girls to be smart and tough and righteously pissed off and unapologetically two steps ahead of everyone else in the room. After years of holding my breath and keeping my jaw clenched tight as I watched our current president dehumanize and humiliate women, both for his own personal enjoyment and because it has proven to be a very powerful political strategy, I struggle to describe the potent mix of strength and energy I felt while holding my young daughter’s little hand to help her press the button next to the name of a woman who fiercely refuses to be intimidated or silenced.
My vote for Warren was not simply because she is a woman; it was because she is a woman after my own heart. She is our Patronus, our bespectacled gladiator armed with data and plans, an archetype in the making. I glimpse her on the television news in the morning as I pack school lunches, rush to find a child’s lost shoe, and silently worry about looming work deadlines, and suddenly her kind, calm, confident gaze fills those mundane tasks with a renewed sense of purpose. Seeing her stand firm in a debate reminds me to quit saying “I’m sorry” when I’m not actually sorry at all.
To hell with the idea that women need to avoid talking about our feelings or risk perpetuating the myth that we are too emotional; my vote for Warren was both rational and deeply emotional. Her plans — the avalanche of well-researched and carefully crafted policy proposals for which she is famous — are like a calming lullaby I replay in my mind when anxiety about my children’s future starts to overtake me. Her confidence in Americans’ ability to choose right over ease makes me more confident in who we are as a nation. In the same way that many scientists describe their work in almost spiritual terms, inspired by the wonders of the universe that they are discovering, I am awed and moved by the breadth and intensity of Warren’s knowledge and intellect and by her willingness to use her talents to help all of us in real and meaningful ways. So even though she’s a policy wonk who eats, sleeps and breathes facts and data, I think Sen. Warren would understand why my friends and I have noticed that our support for her isn’t only about how much we agree with her on paper, it’s also about how she makes us feel.
I voted for Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It was cathartic and powerful. You should really try it.