First, a HUGE thank you to my brother, Eric Whitacre, for his support and for promoting my first post! I don’t know that I would have ever had the moxie to start this without his encouragement. And really, nothing like being thrown down the slide head first. Really, aren’t that what older brothers are for?
So, welcome, everyone! I truly appreciate the kind, encouraging and positive response. It’s exciting to have so many dynamic people want to be involved in the conversation. I also want to thank your for your suggestions to improve the blog and for your patience as I work out the kinks and get up to full speed. Now, let’s do this thing.
I want to take us back to November 8, 2016—Election Night. For many of us, that evening and the following days were devastating. But why? As an experienced political operative I have lost many elections. You do not take this personally. It is business. You win some and you lose some, and you take time to reflect only as a learning tool so you can do it better next time.
I am not emotional person—at least when it comes to politics—so it was odd for me to feel so let down by the outcome of an election. For my own sanity I had to figure out why. Was I getting soft? Did I not have the temperament for this work anymore?
After some contemplation I thought the sense of loss I was feeling after this elections was because I just don’t agree with Donald Trump’s vision, but that answer was too convenient and didn’t make sense. There have been many times in my career where the people who got elected were not the people I supported, but it never got to me the way this year’s outcome did. So why did this election feel personal? I didn’t even work on the Clinton Campaign. I had to go back to the drawing board, and it took me a few weeks to figure it out.
In the end, my feelings of loss stemmed from the very real gender gap still alive and well in the United States, but that I didn’t want to admit was there. We’ve all heard the statistic that women in the United States earn 78.3 cents for every dollar a man earns. And women are continually reminded that it is harder for women to get ahead in the work place. But, I think that most women believe that if they keep their head down and show their value that they can buck this trend.
For me, this election was different because it was an extraordinarily public, real life example that the most qualified person doesn’t get the job, even though they go the most votes. White men that make up the states that gave Trump the majority in the Electoral College decided the fate of women for the next four years. The citizens did not chose Trump. The Electoral College process, a corner stone of our democracy let us down. It made me, as a women, feel helpless.
Now, I say this not to start a debate about whether or not the most qualified candidate won. I say this because for me it was important to find the root cause of what I was feeling if I was going to continue to believe in the goodness of our democracy. If I wasn’t able to process why this election was different then I would have gotten stuck in the emotion of it and not moved forward. It’s my hope that my self-reflection will hit home with others. It’s this common understanding of what many of us are feeling and why that will allow us to make positive change together.
Hillary Clinton said “take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” I am heeding those words of advice. The truth in the outcome of this election is that a gender gap exists in the United States, and it should be taken seriously. I learned that I can no longer keep my head in the sand about it and I can’t let it roll on by without doing something about it.