Exit Ramp: Letter of commendation
Years ago, when you were first lady, I was on a Jewish teen tour visiting sites in Poland, and by complete chance we ran into you. Our group waved you down, yelling that we were Americans and excitedly hummed “Hail to the Chief.” You seemed just as surprised and delighted to see us, your fellow Americans, as we were to see you so far from home, and you spent a few minutes talking to us and letting us take pictures. It was the highlight of a difficult trip, and you’ve held a special place in my heart ever since.
The first time you ran for president, I was so excited. What a perfect choice — how could anyone beat someone who already had spent two terms in the White House? When had we ever seen someone with this unique experience run for the presidency, not to mention your work in the Senate and your career in the private sector? I was such a passionate supporter that I even managed to convince my then-boyfriend, now husband, to change his mind and vote for you.
I was privileged to grow up in a time when women had equal opportunities and with great parents who made sure I knew the sky was the limit. So much so that in junior high on Take Your Daughter to Work Day, my father rolled his eyes when I told him I wanted to spend the day at his office instead of going to school.
“Come on,” he asked, “do you really think you can’t be anything you want to be?”
Seeing you — a woman in a position of power — was not noteworthy to me, but it was still thrilling. It wasn’t because you are a woman; it was because you were this woman, an extraordinarily and uniquely qualified woman. I was thrilled because of you. I was shocked that not enough people agreed.
But this time around it was different. You dusted yourself off and came back stronger than ever, somehow even more experienced than before. It was a true pleasure to watch you campaign. Your energy, devotion, and passion in the face of unfathomable and unprecedented challenges and criticism were astounding and exhilarating. Your debate performances should be studied in school. Your commitment to being thoroughly prepared and your ability to take the high road were inspiring. What a joy it was to witness and take part in your campaign, watching your support roll in from celebrities, newspapers, and your former political rival. This was your time.
It pains me to think that it won’t be you, because of course it should have been. I still don’t understand how it wasn’t. You seemed destined for the presidency, and your being denied the office is contrary to how I was taught the world works. I hope we’ll see a woman in the highest office one day soon, and when it finally happens it will be exciting and amazing — but, at least for me, it won’t be the same.
The rally cries seem trite right now: Don’t lose hope, keep going, keep fighting. I know they are right, and I know it’s the only option, that we need to move forward and try again, and that’s what I’ll do. I’m certain you would demand no less. But I’m not there yet. I feel an immeasurable loss of greatness and potential. How blessed we would have been to have such a seasoned, smart, kind, brave, strong individual as yourself for our leader. After a year-and-a-half of enthusiasm and anticipation, I can’t bear to think of a world where there isn’t the hope of you leading us, and irrationally, I find myself waiting for a twist, waiting for a miracle. I am in mourning for what should have been.
And I know I’m not alone. From conversations with friends and social media posts I sense an overwhelming collective need to give you a hug and let you know we’re with you still.
I don’t know if reading messages from your faithful helps your heartbreak in any way. I imagine they are of little solace right now, but I hope one day they bring you comfort. It comforts us to feel that we are doing something for you.
We are forever indebted to you simply for being you. Thank you for your grace, your strength, your optimism, your bravery, your leadership, your example.