On the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 in Fresno, California we took our eight-year-old daughter, Sophie, to the polls to vote with us. This was her third Presidential election, but I’m not sure there’s ever been more at stake for her. My hands began to shake from some unexpected panic, as if my body was registering the tremors of the coming divide. My daughter stood there, watching as a diverse room-full of people cast their votes and expressed their vision for the future of our country. A couple of hours later, her 3rd grade teacher asked the students in Sophie’s class to pen letters to the future president, whoever they thought that might be. What follows, then is my daughter’s “letter to America”:
Nov. 8, 2016 Election Day!
Dear Future President,
Congrats on being elected president! This is probably going to be a great experience (hopefully). I’m writing this to tell you my opinions of how we could change the USA.
Here are the things I believe are important to change in the next 4 years!
Equality for every race, sex, and religion
Better cafeteria food
Less abusing animals
Free college for all
Love everyone (all races, all genders, and all religions)
Less (no) student debt
Free Health (the Affordable Care Act)
A fair world
Help children get food
Help everyone have food
Helps us have a safe world
Nobody should be discriminated against
Treat other countries with respect
Kids need healthier things in cafeterias, because they can’t afford to pay for home lunches, they should be able to have healthier food.
Soldiers are working hard in the war, and some of them die every day, we need to appreciate them for what they do, and we should stop war now and have peace on earth, and keep everyone alive!
Thank you, President!
These are the things I feel very strongly about in our country.
Sophie Church Age 8, Fresno, California
I guess if I could say anything to America right now, perhaps I would just tell you to listen to our children. They have things to say. I saw a statistic somewhere, backed up by anecdotal evidence from my daughter, that if children were allowed to vote in the election, Hillary Clinton would have won in a landslide. When I asked Sophie why her classmates didn’t like Trump, the general consensus was, “He’s a bully.” But it’s more than that, of course. She knows, on some level, that you, America, voted that day to affirm centuries of sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and oppression. You elected to continue marginalizing her. And she won’t forget that. What I see in my daughter—this fierce, smart, and driven young woman–and in her classmates is a kind of imaginative optimism and uncorrupted hope for a better world, an idealism I think we have to find a way to recapture and hold on to. We have to make art, put words on pages, and fight. But we have to remember to love each other, too and to keep the vision of a better world alive. We need to listen to the wisdom we have apparently lost, the wisdom of our youngers.