I’m not a pantsuit person, but I wore my own version of one Tuesday – white ripped jeans and white blazer – in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first-ever female presidential candidate for a major party in America.
I took a selfie with my “I voted” sticker and told the world: “I’m with her.”
Risky stuff, especially for the pastor of a fairly conservative Lutheran congregation in Orange County.
I did it primarily because, as a female leader myself, I felt a real urge to solidarity. This was an historic moment. The posts of women with their daughters, black and white and Latino and Asian and Native American and young and old and differently-abled – they moved me to tears.
I was proud to be #WithHer as an Evangelical Lutheran Christian.
On Election Night as the returns streamed in, I wasn’t crying or even primarily afraid. I was gut-checked. How had traditional journalism been so wrong? I felt betrayed by sources I’d defended and trusted to a fault.
I couldn’t go to bed until it was over. Clinton supporters – brave women in their white pantsuits who put it on the line for Hillary – were crying.
But the inner circle was long gone.
Campaign Manager John Podesta came to the stage at 2:20 a.m. and told Clinton supporters to go home. He said it wasn’t over. They were still counting votes.
About the same time, Hillary called her old friend Donald to concede. She didn’t extend the same courtesy to the millions of women who put her candidacy on our backs and went to war for Hillary Clinton, sometimes at great personal risk and with real-life consequences.
Donald Trump wasn’t my champion, but I realized early Wednesday morning that Hillary Clinton wasn’t either. I was sitting up all night waiting for a way to process the results no one except Trump’s team predicted, and the only one I got to hear from was an exceedingly conciliatory Donald Trump. It felt like a betrayal.
I heard Hillary was speaking in the morning, so my 4-year-old waited to go to preschool and Tim Kaine came out and I saw the supporters stand and, unexpectedly, my hardened heart burst open and my eyes filled with tears.
You could see he meant it. The coalition he wanted to build. The Christian faith that didn’t mean hatred or racism or sexism. The hope for America’s future.
I went to the bathroom to grab a Kleenex and Hillary was coming up. Improbably, she was smiling. It seemed incredibly disingenuous. Out of place.
It was a real gut-check moment. What had I been defending?
Hillary Clinton smiled. It was the smile of a woman who’d sacrificed everything to be first. It was the smile of a woman who played the political game inside a box that had been smashed open.
My friends heard a heartfelt speech from a heartbroken woman. They’re not wrong, but I felt nothing when I heard her speak. Tim Kaine broke my heart. Hillary Clinton froze it. Maybe she had to.
Our first female candidate had to come from Hillary’s world: an established, elite, wealthy, impervious world of battled hardened realists.
But our first female president will not come from that world.
In a wry way, to this millennial feminist, I get it. It makes an odd kind of sense.
I’m hopeful that a new resistance movement will arise from the 2016 autopsy of the Democratic Party, whose machine and operation was proven wrong in a multitude of ways.
I’m hopeful that resistance will privilege non-white leaders as well as female leaders, as well as inviting non-college-educated whites, rural whites, and Evangelical Christians.
I’m hopeful that with the removing of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – America’s two favorite scapegoats – we’ll be forced to talk and to listen to one another. I’ll miss Obama, but I’m not shortsighted enough to think that this election means his presidency didn’t matter. It did.
I’m thankful that I got up this morning and I got to go to my office, as a Pastor in a large church in Orange County. Hillary’s loss doesn’t mean I’m not a Pastor anymore. My support of her doesn’t mean I’m not going to use this moment to listen to those who voted differently.
I worship a God who transformed death into life. America is still transforming. I will never stop seeking God’s will for our country. I will never be afraid to speak God’s voice into politics.
I will support America’s President.
If it turns out Trump’s rhetoric was for real, I’ll be the first to sign up for the Resistance. If it turns out his conciliatory tone was more truthful than the raging Twitter-holic, I’m hopeful he’ll bring real change to a system that has certainly been divided and broken.
Whatever the case, I’m still grateful to wake up here.