LAUSANNE, Switzerland — When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a creator and explorer. I loved to read and get lost in imaginary fantasy worlds, and I remember being fascinated by people who had created something completely new or were the first to do something amazing. I learned about the Titanic from a book at my local public library and wanted to be the first person to find it. It would be found in late 1985. After that, I wanted to invent things, such as an automated pen that would write down whatever you dictated to it. Today, we have voice-activated text.
In high school, I became strongly feminist and more than a little anti-authority. I decided I wanted to become the first female president — specifically to change the long-running paternalistic patterns I saw all around me. I was angry that the country had been ruled only by men as I learned about the repression of women throughout the history of the United States.
In all these things, I wanted to be the first, to set new paths, to go into unknown territory, and I strongly believed that anything was possible. In the same way that my two early dreams have already been achieved by someone else, I wished with all my heart that the third one would be achieved Tuesday night.
First female president? Three hypotheticals shattered
Today, I, like many millions of my fellow Americans, am still shocked to know that Donald Trump has won the presidency of the United States.
During the night, as I watched in stunned silence while election returns came in redder and redder, I reflected on what this means for the future of our country and what could have been.
Had we elected Hillary Clinton as America’s first female president Tuesday, it could have meant gender would no longer be perceived as a disqualifying factor in choosing a United States president. There are thousands of reasons to qualify or disqualify a candidate in your own mind, but we could have shown that gender would no longer be one of them. On Tuesday, American voters showed they are willing to continue 250 years of male domination.
Second, electing Hillary Clinton could have been a strong signal that we won’t tolerate bullies. That bullies are weak. That calling someone names and insulting and intimidating your opponent doesn’t put you ahead. Instead, we’ve affirmed those characteristics as acceptable and even desirable in a world leader.
Third, we could have shown that hard work pays off, and when you fail, you get back up and try again. Instead, we showed that having a lot of money and a famous name means you can get anything you want.
I’m still overwhelmed that a candidate like Trump won the presidency. I’ve never been so ashamed to be American.