Why I Vote. Why I Care.

Why I Vote. Why I Care.

By Sheri K. Cole, Philadelphia, PA @bflysmile

Why I Vote. Why I Care: The Personal

S Cole CareerWardrobe

I have a clear memory of the day. January 15, 1988. It was a normal Friday to most people. But this was the day I turned 18. The day I could officially register to vote. And I did.

I was probably listening to George Michael’s “Faith” on the radio as I pulled into parking lot of my hometown library in Kettering, Ohio, in my mother’s borrowed car. I can still see the stark Frank Lloyd Wright-esqe building in my memory and asking the librarian for the Voter Registration form. Filling it out, I immediately felt like I was a connected to something larger.

But my interest in politics started before then.

I remember fighting with my best friend in 1980 when she said her family supported Jimmy Carter and I knew we were a Reagan family. I remember in elementary school asking my mother if I could watch her vote and being told that voting was a private act. No one should know who you voted for, and that meant me, too.

But by 1988, I wasn’t a young Republican. I shared a birthday with Martin Luther King, Jr., and had grown up with that knowledge which led to an interest in civil rights. As a member of the speech and debate team in high school, I wrote an award-winning oratory on the injustice of South African’s apartheid regime. And after registering to vote, I drove to West Dayton to the campaign office of Jessie Jackson and picked up a yard sign and button. He was my candidate, even though I wasn’t allowed to display those things in my yard.

In the intervening years, I’d studied political systems and became a feminist. I learned about women’s suffrage, dedicated my life to improving the lives of women. When someone tells me they aren’t registered or don’t bother to vote, I can’t stop the rage welling up in me.

Women died so we could have that right. There are women all over the world who are fighting today to have the right to voice their opinions in their political systems.

In 1992, I was ecstatic to see Bill Clinton elected President, but it was his working and accomplished wife, Hillary Rodham – who used her maiden name, who stood up and declared that women could do more than bake cookies and be arm candy – that really interested me. In 2008 when she conceded to President Barak Obama and talked about the “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling,” I cried both because we were on the verge of seeing our first African American President, but also because my hope of seeing a woman President in my lifetime was delayed.

Why I Vote. Why I Care: The Issues

As you might guess, Hillary Rodham Clinton is my candidate in the Pennsylvania primary. And I don’t shy away from the fact seeing a woman hold the highest office in the United States is important. It’s as ground breaking as the “first” anything is: Catholic, African American, Jewish, Latino, Gay. And here’s a secret: the “first” anything is never perfect. To get to and break that ceiling to a group’s advancement, no matter who has placed it there or what it’s made of, requires negotiation, compromise and playing by the rules that you have had little input into setting.

And yes, I dream of a day when two qualified female candidates debate one another on the Presidential, Governorship, Senate or even local election stage. We don’t see that today.

Today it is as if women are largely given a “token” candidate and asked to accept that for many reasons, not the least of which is that we aren’t given access to political leadership positions that will lead to support for her candidacy.

But here’s another secret: no one is perfect. To ask for a candidate to be perfect is to ask to be disappointed. But as voters, we have the right to ask a candidate to be honest about their biases and open in their thought process. We have the right to ask them to listen to all view points and come to a conclusion that will improve the lives for the most people.

And for me, the “most people” that are paramount in my life and work are women. And statistics tell the story of why women need to be engaged in the political process1.

  • We make up 51% of the population of the United States and as we grow older, we start to radically outnumber men (66% of people over 85 are women).
  • We make up 47% of the labor force. Think about that. Without women businesses would not only suffer from lack of employees, but see sales dramatically decrease because women’s independent earnings fuel their buying power.
  • And more women are choosing to remain single2, which can put an even larger economic burden on us and those of our children (if we choose to have them).

But here’s a really interesting statistic: women vote at a higher rate than men. 43% of women voted in 2014, versus 40% of men. Yet women have never voted in a block because unlike many other demographic groups, women are not a monolithic whole. If we choose to not vote and not be engaged in national or local elections, then we are choosing to let others decide our fates.

Yet, women and the issues that are most important to us, such as economic opportunity, education, healthcare, are often treated as an afterthought. You see that in the discussions around both the Republican and Democratic primary contests. If Hillary Clinton were not in the race, I would bet that we would be talking even less (if that’s possible) about how policies impact women.

Even with her presence, we still haven’t had a substantial discussion about women’s health and sexual violence, income inequality as it pertains to women being segregated in low-wage jobs, incarceration rates and re-entry policies that unfairly penalize women who are pulled into illegal activity by the men in their lives… and I could go on.

So I care about politics and this election cycle for the same reason that every woman should care: without our voices as part of the process we can’t impact any change to improve the quality of our collective and individual lives. That’s why I will be voting the last Tuesday in April in the Pennsylvania primary, and I hope you will, too.


Sheri K. Cole is a resident of Philadelphia, PA and you can follow her online @bflysmile where she tweets about pop culture, feminism and politics. She is also Executive Director of Career Wardrobe, a social enterprise that uses clothing to empower women in Southeastern Pennsylvania to successfully transition to work.


1 http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womencensus1.html

2 Rebecca Traister, All the Single Ladies – http://books.simonandschuster.com/All-the-Single-Ladies/ Rebecca-Traister/9781476716565

For the Girls…

For the Girls…

“Mommy, can I please touch the red button now?!?” she asked as she furiously wiggled next to the curtain.

“No! I want to press the red button!” protested her sister, a constant rival for button-pushing privileges.

I calmly suggested, “How about we all press it together?”

So three fingers – one big, two small – pushed the red button. CAST VOTE NOW. And we did. I opened the curtain of the voting booth. My daughters excitedly announced to the booth attendant, “I helped Mommy vote today!” The attendant smiled and said, “Good job, girls! Now remember to do this when you grow up!” They happily agreed as they bounced towards the exit.

We walked to the car, where my husband was waiting for us. He had already voted earlier in the day. The windows were rolled up, so my husband was quite startled when one of the girls slapped both hands on the glass. She pressed her face to the window and shouted through the pane, “DADDY! We helped Mommy vote!!”

My other daughter said, “Daddy, did you know that a girl can be president? That’s what Mommy said. Did you know there has never been a girl president?” He grinned and assured her that girls can do anything that boys can do, maybe even better.

We went home, had dinner, took a bath and prepared for bedtime. They wanted their dad to read bedtime stories that night, so I indulged in a little grown-up TV while folding the laundry. I turned on the news. “Well look at that…,” I thought, “Hillary won New Jersey.”

I stopped what I was doing and ran into my daughters’ bedroom. “Girls! Girls, “I exclaimed, “We did it! We made a difference! Hillary won the New Jersey primary! She’s going to be the Democratic presidential candidate!!”

Now, my four-year-old twins don’t quite understand what a presidential election is. They don’t know what a “primary” is either. They certainly don’t understand the concept of a Republican vs. a Democrat. What they do understand is that this was a BIG deal for girls. The leader of the free world could be a girl. For the first time ever.

I scooped up the sleepiest one and kissed her plump cheek while she lazily giggled. Her sister jumped up and asked, “Can I be president too, Mommy?” I said, “Maybe one day, my love.”

In this moment, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. If you are a woman – a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend – Hillary’s historic milestone renews and validates gender equality on an unprecedented level.

I tucked my girls into bed. I kissed their heads and thanked them for helping me vote. For helping me make a difference for women everywhere. No matter who wins this election – this extraordinary breakthrough, this powerful turning point, this moment…. It’s #ForTheGirls.

#ImWithHer #Election2016 #WomenVotes

Why vote?

Why vote?

By Martha Bedell Alexander
Former Representative
North Carolina House of Representatives

Back in the early 90’s I decided to pursue an elected office. I had thought for a long time about running for the state legislature. I took the leap and ran for the state senate. The polls showed I would only receive about 18% of the vote. There were people encouraging me to drop out of the race. I remember thinking that if I dropped out of the race and decided to run another time people might not pay me any attention and would not think I was a serious contender because I might drop out again! The bottom line is I received over 40% of the vote in that election.

The next election cycle I ran for the state house. And this time I won the primary by 49 votes. When the recount was completed I gained one more vote. So, I actually won by 50 votes! In this particular election whoever won the primary was the winner since the other party did not have a candidate in the general election. I had the privilege of serving for twenty years. And, only 50 people elected me to office. Look around you today in your office, on the street, in the grocery store and realize you have probably seen more people in those environs than put me in office. Each person’s vote counts.

Back to ‟why vote?”

Many times, particularly in major elections on the state or national level it is sometimes hard to see why it matters. Thousands of votes are cast. Someone might wonder ‟where is my vote?”

After taking the time to vote is the happiness of the voter if the person’s candidate of choice wins; but there is the major disappointment if the person’s candidate is not the winner. What is important is the fact that within our democracy we have the opportunity to vote. And it behooves one to understand that by casting a vote for someone is showing the support of the ideals that candidate has put forth.

By casting a vote also is a sign to the winner that there are people within their constituency who have a different opinion on issues. It gives the winner a way to gauge the issues that have been discussed or ones with which they are confronted. And, by voting the voter has the opportunity in advocating for their causes to remind the winner they are voters and part of their constituency.

There are many ways to learn about the candidates. Newspapers, television, social media, public forums, mailings and a candidate’s campaign events are a few resources to learn more about them. Also, speak to your neighbors, other employees, family and friends. Someone you know might know one of the people running for office. And, do not forget that from the local board of elections you are able to have information about how to contact the candidate. Try to learn about all of the candidates, because you never know who might win and who will be a contact for you on specific issues.

It is also very important to find out the various election contests for the primary and general election. It is imperative to understand the whole ballot is important from local, state and national candidates to those who are running in the judicial branch or other specific offices.

Sometimes people only vote for the president and do not vote for anyone else. That is why I would like to urge you to become aware and knowledgeable for all offices. Each office has a major role to play in either an administrative, legislative or judicial manner. Staying home and not voting is not a very good option. It is giving away our privilege of voicing our opinion. Elected officials are making decisions, rulings and laws which affect us all. Join them by adding your voice as one of their constituents. You can make a difference. Invite someone to join you. Take someone to vote. Do not have an empty car.

Your VOTE makes a difference. I know that personally.

Martha Bedell Alexander
Former Representative
North Carolina House of Representatives

 

What’s Next for Women in this Election?

What’s Next for Women in this Election?

By Antonella Iannarino, @TheWomensDebate

There is a pervasive misunderstanding of women’s issues and the social structures that continue to put up barriers to equity. In a study released last August, respondents answered that when a 2016 presidential candidate said “women’s issues” he or she meant either equal pay or abortion rights. Further troubling is the disparity between the belief in equality—77% think women should have equal positions in solving community and national problems—and the understanding of how much power women actually have. Women make up only 20% of Congress but more than a third of respondents believed that women have equal power at the national level.

Issues that affect women and girls, and often disproportionately, extend far beyond reproductive rights. Women have not had a representative seat at the table, and it shows in how the broader definition of women’s issues has been largely ignored in this election cycle.

The Women’s Debate was formed to ask our presidential candidates to begin addressing the economic, safety, and health concerns that affect all of us every day.

As Jose Zeilstra wrote in the Huffington Post earlier this year, “Women make up more than half of the American population and turn out to vote more than men, so we expect to be taken very seriously during this presidential election.”

Here, then, is our plan for what’s next.

Originally published by United State of Women Summit blog. Reposted with permission from The Women’s Debate.

Whose Shoes are You Wearing? Women Look Beyond Their Experiences

Whose Shoes are You Wearing? Women Look Beyond Their Experiences

Whose Shoes are You Wearing?
Challenging Women to Look Beyond Their Own Experiences

By Sheri Cole (@bflysmile) for @WomenVotes

As I sit down to write this blog post, I am having trouble focusing. There is too much to say about the election and why it’s important for women to vote and make our voices heard. But then as I tease apart what that statement means, I get lost in contradictory thoughts.

On one hand, if women were to band together and vote as a block, we could sway any election. We are over 50% of the population after all. This was actually one of the arguments against giving women the right to vote during the suffrage movement. Men in power have always feared women connecting and organizing, and this has led to both institutions designed to keep women separate and a political system that disadvantages women.

On the other hand, 20+ years of feminist studies have taught me one thing: there is no such thing as ‘women.’ Just pull up Twitter and click on any Tweet that talks about a “woman’s issue” and see the diversity of opinion. And I’m not talking about political issues like equal pay or maternity leave, but general statements about fashion or beauty or motherhood.

Go ahead… I’ll wait.

Didn’t take long to get to a comment that says – “I’m a woman and I don’t agree” – did it? (And it probably wasn’t that civil, either… but that’s a topic for another blog post!)

Because that’s the crux of it: women and our opinions are not monolithic. And furthermore, there has not been a diversity of women’s experiences and opinions represented in our government or leadership.

The history of the “women’s movement” is a history of diverse thoughts and issues. What is defined as a “women’s issue” to me might not be to another woman.

And that’s okay.

What’s not okay is using that fact to try to divide and discount our opinions. As I write this, a song comes into my head: I wish you’d take a walk in my shoes for a start / You might think it’s easy being me / You just stand still, and look pretty.

Replace the last line with another statement about a woman’s experience.   We are all guilty of putting our experience at the center of our politics and opinions, and that’s only natural. But we have to challenge one another to think beyond our own experiences. To walk in another woman’s shoes and try to see the world from her vantage point.

When I feel the crunch at the end of the month of not having enough money, I stop and challenge myself to think what life is like for the single mother who works for minimum wage and can’t afford to stop at the grocery store for eggs and milk at the end of the month.

And what if our politicians did the same thing? What if our Senators and Mayors thought about how every policy would impact not only their lives, but the life of the citizen whose life is different from theirs?

So back to my original question… why do women’s voices matter?

Because not only do my experiences as a woman drive my political views, they are also an experience that has not been a part of our political discourse as much as they should. Sure, there are male politicians who strive to represent people different than them, and there are female politicians who vote in their own self-interest. But I’d submit that the more women who are engaged in the process of voting and running for office, the more “women’s issues” will cease to be defined as such, and just be “issues.”

Imagine a world where we see the following “women’s issues” redefined:

Maternity leave is universally defined as parental leave because not only can a caregiver could be a woman or a man, but all families who have children have to deal with child care issues.

Men stand up for equal pay for women and people of all races because the less money women and people of color make at work, the less money families have to pay for basic necessities.

This isn’t a utopian world of the future. We have examples of other countries that have made this shift in their thinking. And what do they have in common? Women are represented at greater levels in their executive and governing leadership.

In America, we are at a crossroads – regardless of your political views and identity – as we nominate the first woman to potentially lead our country. But even if Hillary Clinton is never elected President, breaking this barrier means that we are now focusing on women’s voices in a way we haven’t before.   It will lead to more women being inspired to run for office, and some of these women will win! And when they take their seats at the table, they need to look beyond their experiences and walk in another woman’s shoes to understand her experiences.

And before we step into the voting booth, we need to do the same thing. So, whose shoes will you try on today? And what will they feel like? Will walking around for a while in them change your views?

I think it will. And I think our collective lives will be better for it.

 

#Carpool2Vote List of the Best Carpool and Rideshare Apps for Election2016

#Carpool2Vote List of the Best Carpool and Rideshare Apps for Election2016

There are many great resources out there to support people to #Carpool2Vote on #Election2016 Day. Our goal is to keep this list up-to-date so we can support your voting efforts and help you make the best choice for you and your group and not get stuck without a lift to the polls.

 

Some Carpool and Rideshare Tips:

Your City: Check out your city and/or state department of transportation to learn about carpool options in your area. Find rideshare and other options to help build your commute with neighbors or start your own car share program in your community.

Google Docs Sign-up Sheet: This simple template allows groups of people to sign up for various tasks usiFng the collaborative features of Google Docs. It can be used to coordinate many tasks including organizing your #Carpool2Vote. The organizer sets things up by filling in dates, names, and chores, then shares it with participants to fill in. www.googledocs.com

 

List of the Best Carpool and Rideshare Apps for Election2016

  • Carma Carpooling: With the catch-phrase “Freedom to Go”, Carma is a carpooling app pioneering the Ownerless Car to transform wasted parking lot hours into dynamic mobility services that respond to people’s different transportation needs throughout the day. With over 400 cars, its customers are already living and driving the future of transportation. gocarma.com
  • Carpoolworld: Is an Internet website that provides a free public on-line trip-matching service. Carpoolworld also provides a hosted carpool matching solution for institutions such as schools, universities, hospitals who wish to provide carpool matching for their community. carpoolworld.com
  • Craigslist: Provides a community rideshare link where you can find postings to find rides offered and needed only. No app or connected social platform so you know who you are riding with or peer-to-peer review! craigslist.org
  • Getaround: Is an online car sharing or peer-to-peer carsharing service that allows drivers to rent cars from private car owners, and owners to rent out their cars for payment. With Getaround, you can rent 1000’s of cars from a Toyota to a BMW to a Tesla and unlock them all with your phone via the easy to use app. getaround.com
  • Lyft: Is an easy-to-use taxi app alternative and one of the biggest names in the ridesharing space. Lyft Line takes ridesharing to the next level by connecting you to other passengers along your route. When you share a ride, you pay a discounted price. Look out for the pink mustache! lyft.com
  • iCarpool: Looking for a better way to commute? iCarpool connects you with verified drivers going your way so you can start carpooling in a matter of minutes. “No fixed schedule. Book a ride and hop on.” icarpool.com
  • Rideshare: With a mission to support and promote all forms of ridesharing, improve the environment, provide world-class customer experience and lessen the burden of government, Rideshare provides carpooling and fleet solutions for offices and campuses! rideshare.com
  • Ridejoy: Is a community marketplace for friendly people sharing rides. If you are going in a trip, you can list extra seat space in your car, and if you need to get somewhere, you can find a ride, using the site. ridejoy.com
  • Rydes: RYDE is a social enterprise that promotes carpooling. RYDE’s request tool uses GPS technology to match drivers with riders going the same way. Carpooling benefits all. For riders, it offers a social, eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative. For drivers, this helps to offset the cost of petrol and parking. rydesharing.com
  • SafeHer SafeHer was born to provide a simple solution to an all-to-common problem: reducing violence against women in the ride-share space. SafeHer’s proprietary background checks aim to set a new safety standard in the industry. To join this movement go to www.safeher.com
  • Turo “Rent a car anywhere”, this app offers local pickup, city delivery, and airport delivery saving commuters time and money. www.turo.com
  • Uber: Very popular ridesharing app that allows you to choose your vehicle type and share for carpool options. Uber’s message “Across borders, cultures, and languages, we’re proud to connect people who need a reliable ride with people looking to earn money driving their car. Your journeys inspire us. Thank you.” uber.com
  • Zimride: Is a simple way to connect drivers and passengers going the same way you are. … It’s simple! “Zimriding” is a fun way to get where you need to go and also connect with others in your immediate area to share rides (only available to universities and corporations. zimride.com
  • ZipCar: Is an American car-sharing company, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group. Zipcar provides automobile reservations to its members, billable by the hour or day. Zipcar members pay a monthly or annual membership fee in addition to car reservations charges. “Own the trip. Not the car.” zipcar.com
WomenVotes Announces #Carpool2Vote at Northeastern University

WomenVotes Announces #Carpool2Vote at Northeastern University

WomenVotes Announces #Carpool2Vote at Northeastern University’s prestigious 2016 Education Cooperative Awards Luncheon

 

Campaign highlights the importance of #WomenVotes and the need to help others get to the polls so they can cast their ballot on #Election2016 Day. Includes a list of the Best Carpool and Rideshare Apps for 2016

CP2V-Blog-v01

June 29, 2016

BOSTON, MA—WomenVotes (http://womenvotes.org), co-founders Nicole Wild Merl and Thomas Cook, today announced a new initiative, #Carpool2Vote aimed at helping get women, moms, grandmas (anyone needing a lift) to the polls on #Election2016 Day during an acceptance speech at Northeastern University’s prestigious 2016 Education Cooperative Awards Luncheon. Ms. Wild Merl, a graduating Master’s student, was honored with “The Student Scholar” recognition for her achievements.

Furthermore, the WomenVotes.org blog and social platforms were created via the first-ever virtual Education Cooperative allowed by Northeastern University to research, develop, and implement a digital social impact project both as an experiential and innovative learning experience. Sponsored by Thomas Cook, Thomas Cook & Associates LLC, the social impact project’s timely mission is to empower #WomenVotes for #Election2016 and the future.

Calling all drivers! The #Carpool2Vote campaign highlights the importance of civic engagement by encouraging women from all political affiliations to vote on the issues and help with resources and ways to carpool to vote in the presidential election on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. To support the campaign, WomenVotes is seeking to join forces with women, moms, and caring organizations who want and can make a difference.

#Carpool2Vote List of the Best Carpool and Rideshare Apps for 2016

 

 

The Bernie-verse Just Hit its Big Bang

The Bernie-verse Just Hit its Big Bang

By Misty Rosas

“You had me at hello…”

“Show me the MONEY!”

Perhaps two of the most iconic lines in American movie history. Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. said those words to Tom Cruise, playing Jerry McGuire in the titular role. If you were human and alive in 1996, you saw Jerry McGuire. You laughed. You cried. You ate that sh*t up.

Why?

Because it was the classic story of an underdog! Everyone loves the heroes’ journey. A great and honest man (or woman) is faced with daunting circumstances. Yet he prevails with the help of a few devoted believers. Rudy Ruettiger. Oprah. Nelson Mandela. Hell, even Jesus – all underdogs. All Grade A, fantastic underdog stories.

And then there’s Bernie.

Oh, I love me some Bernie. He’s your cranky old grandpa who’s been there, done that. He knows a few things and he’s had enough of our crap. Fasten your seatbelts because the Bernie-verse just had its big bang.

Bernie officially announced his intention to run for president on May 26, 2015, about six weeks after Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. Since then, there has been a slow, steady bubbling of support for his progressive, socialist approach. Bernie has been an activist for more than half a century, with no signs of slowing down.

Will Bernie crush Hillary at the #CAPrimary, resurging Bernie fervency to an energetic new high? So I have two questions:

  1. What took this guy so long to run for president?
  2. Can he really win over my beloved Hillary?

I don’t know about question #1, though I have my concerns over question #2. As a woman, I am desperate for my daughters to see a woman lead the free world with unprecedented success. The gender gap is way more real than I could have ever imagined. I believe in her. She is also an underdog. Like she said, they’ve called her a lot of things, but never a quitter. She perseveres despite of gender, age, scandal and pantsuits.

But can Bernie undercut her underdog? Maybe. Show me a millennial and I’ll show you someone who loves anything called “grassroots.” So he’s grassroots. Hillary worked with what she had to get where she is. She has navigated politics for decades and succeeded, without the perk of having a penis.

How do we choose between our favorite grandma and grandpa? I love them both. Honestly, I’ll #VoteBlueNoMatterWho.

But I digress…. You might say that Trump is also an underdog. And he is in a way, but his story doesn’t qualify as a compelling heroes’ journey. A hero altruistically achieves his goal on behalf of the people. There is much speculation of his selfish motives, though his abrasive persona hardly represents the hero. Does anyone really believe he will responsibly handle nuclear codes?

So we have one idiot, one historic visionista and one helluva an underdog. In all fairness, he seems a little too good to be true. He’s been called an ideological purist who lacks the proven experience that Hillary already has. Don’t underestimate experience. How the hell do you think GWB got reelected for a second term?

Bottom line – she’s still my girl. #ImWithHer. But I’ll throw Bernie a little love, come what may. And if I believe in luck at all, grandma and grandpa will make-up and become the best damn presidential ticket there ever was.

American Mania

American Mania

American Mania and the Creamsicle Führer

Do you remember where you were when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states? I do. I was sitting at my desk when my cell phone started to buzz with Facebook and Twitter notifications. My feeds were washed with rainbow colored photos and virtual declarations of progress and equality. A monumental achievement in civil rights.

Other civil rights milestones, such as the abolition of slavery and women gaining the right to vote, make me proud to be an American. We are a tolerant, progressively open minded society that embraces equality.

Right??

The recent rise of the Creamsicle Führer has shattered my confidence and my trust in my fellow Americans. Donald Trump, Republican presidential front-runner and overall bigot, is surfacing an ugly side of the American people. They show up in droves to his rallies, mania and violence teeming in the air.

Trump unapologetically encourages violence and even offers to pay legal fees for those that carry out violence at his request. All over the United States, violent crimes are skyrocketing. Donald Trump is throwing gasoline on the fire! He hardly denies this fact. He certainly doesn’t repent against his bias for violence. As if inciting violence weren’t bad enough, his candor has rendered election coverage R-rated. Violence. D*** jokes. The disgustingness of women needing to use the restroom. Assuming strong, articulate women must be menstruating if they dare challenge him. Hateful, small-minded thoughts about Muslims and Mexicans.

When Donald Trump is on TV, I usher my children out of the room to protect them from his offensive speech. That is so sad. We should be proud for our children to witness the process and power of democracy. We shouldn’t have to muffle their ears because a “Presidential” candidate is validating bigotry and condoning violence! It is no longer shocking to hear his vicious words. What is surprising is that Americans are embracing Trump.

Can’t they hear what he says?

How are they not ashamed to defend his hateful rhetoric?

[Scared, tiny voice inside] Oh my goodness, are Americans just closeted bigots?

Now I am really frightened. Is Trump gathering support because they finally found a champion to normalize their secret, chronic hate?

A clever tool helped me identify Facebook friends who like Trump. I was sickened to see some good friends and family on the list. Do they hate like him too?

I think about the national celebrations when gay marriage was legalized. Was it all a lie? Were Trump supporters simmering while waiting for an icon to corroborate their feelings of disgust?

It wasn’t a lie for me. And I hope many of you. Please tell me Americans are still pursuing and embracing equality for all. Tell me we continue to grow in tolerance and diversity. Share and comment on this post to tell the world our equality achievements aren’t a lie. Tell the world America’s civil rights progress isn’t a lie. It is #StillTrue.