Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A New Driver in the Seat

Posted by one of my daughters who will be contributing to Minivan Diaries:

Dear Grandma,

I sit here at the pinnacle of my youth, or at least that is how it feels to me. I know you would beg to differ. You would tell me that even you, who just celebrated your 74th birthday, are still youthful and that vigor and vitality are just a state of mind, one that is well worth preserving. Every time I see you a new sense of energy emanates from your enthusiastic words and optimism on issues that once seemed impossible. You are a product of success. You were at the forefront of feminism; you were in the vanguard of civil rights and a vigorous supporter of a woman’s right to choose. You know what it is like to work for something, but you also know what its like to win. This is not to belittle the tremendous fight that you prudently fought while balancing raising a wonderful and socially conscious family. How did you do it?

There is something else that you have instilled in me; the importance of retaining a sense of history from all angles of myself. I must remember as a woman, the fight that still rages today regarding equality. I must remember as a Jew the malicious anti-Semitic remarks that lead to the denigration and attempted extermination of our race, I must remember as an American the ideals that lay the foundation of our nation, and most importantly I must remember as a youth that I have a responsibility to prepare for the future.

Just the other day, you told me that you and your friend, Barbra, had had a conversation regarding the upcoming presidential primaries in our states. You were trying to convince your friend to vote for Obama (way to go Grandma!) and in the process the youth of America came up. You told Barbara quite simply that the youth are rallying for Obama and because the future is ours, not yours or Barbra’s, that she needed to follow suit. I had never thought of that. Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone has the right to vote for their own reasons and I am not suggesting that the 65 and older age group should rally behind the 25 and younger constituent and I know you weren’t either. You were stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. You were projecting the future and anticipating based on the past. You, as the older generations have the experience, we have the motivation. So this brings me to Hillary.

I didn’t originally want to write about this. The topic frustrates me as caller after caller suffocate public radio with sob stories on how the media is trivializing Hillary, simply by calling her by her first name. People connect to that. One woman called in saying that she too is called by her first name when her co-workers go by their last. I always thought it was straightforward as to why Hillary chose to be addressed this way. I thought she wanted to disassociate herself from her husband, a move I most nearly admired, but the admiration ended there (and so did the disassociation). Her campaign chose to go by Hillary, she chose to go by Hillary, so please do not tell me that it is degrading to her, to be called Hillary.

Grandma, you fought to put women on a level playing field with men. You stood at rallies, you lobbied legislators, you even opened a home for disheartened and downtrodden women, so you of all people are sympathetic to her plea. So I ask you one more question, do you see it as I do? Do you see this platform of attracting votes by simply being a woman as insulting as I do? To me, we have taken a step backwards. It is not the youth of America that are finding Hillary’s femininity attractive, it is the old feminists, those who themselves stood on the steps of the capital fighting for title IX, that are voting simply on gender. This to me is contradictory to their single most important goal; to be gender blind in situations like this. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe, having grown up with a generation, whether real or not, with the mentality that gender is not a means of distinguishing ability or character has given me and my peers a unique perspective. A recent Facebook and ABC News poll asked the question of what candidate Facebook members would least like to see in the white house. Hillary won with 70%, with nearly 32,000 votes (Edwards was a distant second with 16%). We are generally gender blind with no previous biases of the past directly impacting us, and we are supporting Obama in throngs.

In the end, it comes down to you and me. It comes down to us, cherishing this momentous opportunity to change our country for the better. I remember where I am from and what has formed and then reformed my ideas of what would be best for my generation and me. You have taught me to see through a kaleidoscope lens. You have left a legacy I hope to live up to because you, Grandma, are a true American hero.

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