A Letter to Young Women: How We Will All Move Forward Together Now
Following Secretary Hillary Clinton's historic loss to President-Elect Donald Trump, former Obama Deputy Chief of Staff and current VICE COO Alyssa Mastromonaco reflects on the path forward.
Photo by Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
If you are like me, but probably younger, you are feeling like shit. You are grieving. You might still be in bed and maybe you wore sweat pants to work. You will never forget how you feel right now.
You are allowed to feel sad for a few days. But then we must all put on some clean underwear and a little mascara and get back at it. It's on us to keep fighting the fight.
In 2004, I was working for John Kerry's presidential campaign. By around 4 PM on Election Day, we started drinking. Exit polls were looking great, and we didn't feel like we were tempting the gods by having a glass of champagne.
More than a few glasses in, at the bar in the Park Plaza in Boston, shit started to go south. Within a few hours, it was over. It was raining out and Jon Bon Jovi played a song for the faithful who remained.
We sobered up in the way that's only possible when you have no other choice (though not before one of us puked in a handbag in the elevator), and got back to work planning a concession speech at Faneuil Hall.
The whole experience was like a movie or TV show that would never be made because the ending would be too sad. I was inconsolable; I smoked pot and ate McDonald's and didn't leave the house because I didn't want to spend a dime seeing as I was now unemployed.
From the ashes, we all rise. Every time.
I grew into my adult self on the Kerry campaign, which is where I learned—and accepted—that, most of the time, politics is a win/lose game, and you simply can't be on the winning team every time (just ask Bernie).
A few weeks later, I was hired by a newly elected senator from Illinois: Barack Obama.
From the ashes, we all rise. Every time.
Obama gave me countless opportunities over the years; one was to get to know Secretary Hillary Clinton. I hold close the memories I have of her during that time: she was always the first up and the last to bed; sometimes she would put her hair in a fairly silly ponytail with a scrunchie; when I got married, she did a funny dance to celebrate me on Air Force One; when I tried to eat dodgy foods on foreign trips she would always look at me disapprovingly and say "eat a granola bar;" when I left the White House in 2014, she asked me out to lunch—just to hang out.
So how do you cope with how you feel right now?
First, don't be destructive: Don't burn a flag, don't be vitriolic. Anger will give you a worse hangover than cheap tequila.
Second, you are allowed wine—preferably to drink with friends because I know how lonely you are feeling.
Third, find your thing. Find your cause, and get back in the game. Be a mentor or volunteer. Remember every priority of Secretary Clinton's and dive into one headfirst. Most importantly, bring your friends.
It's our responsibility to form a tribe unlike anything that's ever been seen before—one that is stronger, louder, and more ferocious than ever. The suffragettes didn't win us the right to vote by walking down the street with headphones on, reading Twitter. We cannot let this happen again.
Fourth, don't blame men for not knowing how we feel. There is no way they could.
And last, think about what Secretary Clinton said on Wednesday in her speech: "Our campaign was never about one person or even one election, it was about the country we love and about building an America that's hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future."
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We have to be the women that the very young, confused, and deeply disappointed little girls look up to.
She is only one woman and can only do so much. Today, she consoled us all and urged a nation to support its new president and to be open-minded.
We have to be the women that the very young, confused, and deeply disappointed little girls look up to. We have to take the time and make the effort to show them that the world isn't totally fucked. We can't take our toys and go home because where would that leave them? We have to come together and move forward.
We have to do this for them, because she did it for us.