Appeared on Senior Planet
“I am watching a movement take shape, and while our generation may not have started it, we are front and center, grey heads visible, our voices loud and clear.”
My husband glanced out the window at the grey and stormy sky.
“It’s downright Trumpian, out there. Dark and blustery,” he said. I wanted to laugh, but I couldn’t. Election Day was around the corner, and I’d been tossing and turning all night, every night with visions of armed militia, ID cards for Muslims and giant walls.
These images were far from what we believed in. My husband and I met in college in 1969, both bonafide members of the Peace & Love generation. As this campaign season unfolded, we looked at the threatening and violent behavior the Republican candidate legitimized and wondered, How did “make love not war” get so twisted in our senior years? Why did our hopes and dreams—the inclusiveness that was a hallmark of our generation– not “take?”
“In the almost 50 years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you so upset,” my husband observed.
I was wracked with anxiety. I stopped consuming news in any form. Polls, pundits, party representatives, talk of armed militias: I wanted no part of any of it. Ups, downs, press conferences, violence—they were all a reminder that madness had taken over a significant segment of our population.
Social media posts that contained lies, half-truths and hateful statements were another source of distress. I blocked, unfriended or unfollowed the handful of visible “friends” who spouted racist, separatist propaganda.
And then I received a Facebook message telling me that I’d been added to a pro-Hillary Clinton Facebook group I’d never heard of. Called “Pantsuit Nation,” it was a “secret” group, meaning that you had to be added by an existing member. At the time I was added, the group had more than 200,000 members — and not just women. Curious, I began scrolling through their posts and testimonials.
A teenager driving a car with Obama and Hillary stickers in Hebrew was pelted with food by a couple in the car behind them; they high-fived each other each time they hit a sticker. A woman wearing an HRC T-shirt was accosted by a Trump supporter who called her a whore and worse. A woman with an HRC bumper sticker said she was run off the road.
I was stunned at what was now considered acceptable by fanatics who brooked no difference of opinion in this, the land of the free.
And then, as I read on, I saw other stories.
Daughters and sons posted photographs of their centenarian mothers or grandmothers voting early for HRC. These senior-seniors beamed with pride: They had been born before women had the vote. Some of these daughters and sons concluded their posts by saying that their mother had passed away days after casting a vote for our first female president.
Other photos showed seniors so sick, they could barely muster up the energy to push a walker, but they were determined to make it out to the polls early for Hillary Clinton. I saw a woman with cancer casting a vote for HRC and posting that the Affordable Health Care Act was literally a matter of life and death for her.
I saw women in their 50s, 60s and older talking about the many ways they’d been denied professional opportunities, patronized and demeaned in a sexist culture and dedicating their vote to their daughters and granddaughters, who they hoped would not have to suffer such discrimination.
Married couples of all ages and orientations — gay, lesbian, transgender, straight — posted ballot-casting photos, describing why they were “with her.” Their testimonials were articulate, passionate and hopeful.
Some drove newly naturalized citizens they knew to the pools. They brought their children with them to vote in what they knew was a historic election.
I scrolled through post after post in the week before Election Day. I was watching a movement take shape, and while our generation, the 75 million of us who were born into a different world, may not have started it, we were front and center, grey heads visible, our voices loud and clear.
“I don’t know why I can’t stop crying as I read these posts,” I told my husband, wiping my eyes.
“I know why,” he said. “It’s like someone has lanced a 65-year-old boil.”
He was right. Through my career I had often found myself in sexist and misogynistic organizations, and the stories that women of my generation were telling resonated with me. But each photo of a 90-plus-year-old woman voting for a woman president who represented our generation’s values touched my heart the most.
The vibes were love, inclusion, acceptance and support. What had been a simple Facebook group had grown a feeling of family, of people who shared a hopeful vision for our country.
I remembered that feeling from the 1960s. Decades later in the 21st century, community was being built and empowered to effect change. It felt good to be part of a loving and inclusive movement fighting hate and violence.
As Election Day approached, the group kept growing. It’s now more than a million strong and growing, and plans are afoot to keep it going after the election to support President Hillary Clinton during — members hope — her first term, which is expected to be rough.
From the looks of it, the group will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Trump candidacy legitimized hate. This group? This movement? It will live on to hold politicians accountable to different, more positive and affirming standards.
It just may show us that, as the slogan goes, Love really does Trump Hate — just as our generation hoped it would.
If you’d like to be part of Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, ask if any of your Facebook friends are members and would add you. The group is actively moderated.