My oldest granddaughter, age 7, wanted to know why I was leaving my cozy Napa Valley home—during the heart of the grape harvest—to spend four weeks in North Carolina. She didn’t want me to be away for so long, and was worried that her “Grampy,” was heading right into a dangerous rainstorm that bore her father’s name.
“What will you be doing there?” she asked.
“I’ll be helping people vote for the first woman President in the history of the United States,” I said.
“You mean Hillary?” asked the second-grader, who is already reading at nearly an eighth grade level. For months, she had quietly noticed the refrigerator magnets at our home which said “A Woman’s Place is in the White House,” and simply, “Hillary,” in script.
“Yes, Hillary,” I said to her, realizing that nothing escaped her bright, alert eyes.
“Well, I want her to win,” she asserted to me, as only a 7-year old can.
“Me too!” I said to my oldest granddaughter, a whiz in every subject in school, a talented artist and a caring bigger sibling to her two younger sisters, ages 5 years old and 10 months. “I want to show everyone that smart girls rule!”
Her lively eyes danced and she flashed me her dazzling, magnificent smile.
“And you do to, Grampy,” my granddaughter said.
I’ve worked on dozens of political campaigns over my 67 years of life; campaigns for President, for U.S. Senators, for Governor, Members of Congress, State legislature, City Council & Town Council members, campaigns for Mayors and Supervisors, County Executives and local school board members. I even ran for public office once myself, at 23 years old. None of those campaigns come close to the significance of this year’s Presidential election.
For millions of grandparents and fathers and mothers like me, the stakes have never been higher. I’m not only for Hillary (Her!), but I’m fighting for the future of each of my three granddaughter’s: her, and her, and her. I don’t want them to be exposed to a crass culture where vulgarities toward women and girls are accepted as “locker-room-talk.” I don’t want them to live in a society where they have to worry about being groped or grossed out by boys or men simply because of their anatomy; or marginalized and not taken seriously because of their gender, or their generosity toward others.
Many of my fellow Californians are making thousands of phone calls into states like Nevada and Arizona, and ringing doorbells in Colorado to register new voters and galvanize supporters of Hillary Clinton, or opponents to the Thuggish Sexual Predator, formerly know as Donald J. Trump. For me, that just wasn’t enough.
I’ve had years of experience doing Voting Protection, guaranteeing citizens their sacred right to vote, and expanding the democratic process. I’ve confronted bellowing bullies in front of polling places, intent on intimidating the elderly, the young, or new United States Citizens, voting for the first time. They don’t scare me because I know they are cowards, afraid of the power of a paper ballot or a red-handled voting machine lever, accessible to all eligible voters.
I evaluated all of the swing states in the 2016 Presidential Election, and before the polls began to move toward Hillary and away from The Sexual Predator, selected North Carolina as the State where I felt my skills could have the greatest impact. If Clinton could win North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, there was hardly any alignment of states, without NC, that could elect Donald Trump President. Additionally, North Carolina held the potential for a Democratic female U.S. Senate Candidate—Deborah Ross—to upset an incumbent Far Right Trump supporter. And, the Governor of NC, Pat McCrory, fixated more on who used toilets than on Trump’s toilet-bowl mouth, is in the fight of his political life against his Democratic opponent, State Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Finally, my long-time friend and former teacher’s union colleague—Patricia Orrange, from Buffalo NY—has long been active in North Carolina Democratic politics. Forty years earlier, we campaigned together to get another highly qualified woman into office, in another field heavily dominated by men. I pushed hard for Pat to pursue the top staff leadership position in the Statewide teachers’ union—to bust up the old boy’s network and become one of the first female Executive Directors of a union in New York State. My slogan for her: “This Woman’s Place is On Top.” It was, and she was, and one big crack was made in a ceiling stained by cigar smoke. Working with Pat once again, would be completing a continuous circle of constructive change.
Now, four decades after our last successful campaign together, we’re out to make even more history, to break the biggest glass ceiling of all, to turn our country toward utilizing the talents of a majority of its citizens, and to, once again, “show everyone that smart girls rule.”
Only this time, as I look at my I-Phone’s screensaver photo of my three granddaughters, I know I’ve got at least three times the incentive I had before. I’m for Her; and her, and her, and her. And for making this country worthy of them.