Women are celebrating some awesome milestones this year. One hundred years ago, the 19th Amendment was officially added to the US Constitution which allowed many women to finally start voting in elections. Fifty-five years ago, the Voting Rights Act was passed and ensured that people of color were officially able to exercise their right to vote without discrimination. These revolutionary events inspired by some ass-kicking suffragettes created an ongoing national conversation about gender and racial equality.
Although I wish our country wasn’t still repeating a ridiculously tired debate about whether or not a woman can lead our nation, I sure am glad to have the right to freely vote for who I want our next president to be. And this year, I had the great privilege of bringing my four-year-old daughter June into the voting booth to help me nominate someone.
June is an energetic little firecracker of a kid. She’s outspoken, fiercely loving, and believes herself to be one of the greatest superheroes of all time. But she also knows she’s not the only one with magical powers. Because last month, I introduced her to the work of presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Her tiny toddler eyes gleefully perked up when I showed her the videos of Warren speaking at a “Get Out the Vote” event I recently attended in New Hampshire. Not only was the first-time female senator from Massachusetts there, but so were three trailblazing congresswomen. I told June that Warren has made history by choosing campaign co-chairs who are all women. That’s a big fucking deal if you ask me – and according to my child, these badass ladies represent a cool, new team of superheroes.
Among the co-chairs is Ayanna Pressley, the first black congresswoman to ever represent Massachusetts. The next is Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American women to ever be elected to Congress. And finally there’s Katie Porter, the first Democrat since the 1930s to represent her California congressional district – and the very first single mother raising young children while working in Congress.
As June watched Warren speak, her smile beamed. The senator’s powerful words connected deeply with my daughter, especially when she talked about uniting everyone to help make our country work for the many and not just the few. “For me, it’s about a fight from the heart,” she said at the event. “It’s about why we are in the fight and why we are in it together. We can’t just continue with an America that works better and better for a thinner slice at the top and leaves so many people behind.”
I also explained to June that since our country was founded, a woman has never been elected president before. When she heard my words, my four-year-old’s jaw dropped and she audibly gasped. Immediately after, she looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I want to meet Elizabeth Warren.”
June then surprised me with an important morning announcement on February 11th that would shift our plans for the day. She loudly proclaimed that she wanted to go with me to vote for our next president, so I immediately called her preschool and told them she’d be late getting to class. Then my daughter explained to me why she wanted Elizabeth Warren to be the next leader of our country. “She’s my biggest fan,” she proudly said. When I asked June if she was also Warren’s biggest fan, she flashed a quick smile and replied, “Yeah.”
I had to do some serious negotiating once my little girl realized that her all-time favorite presidential candidate couldn’t actually be there in person to greet us at the voting booth. But the promise of getting to eat popcorn after we went kept her motivated to join me. June enthusiastically held my hand as we entered our local spot, patiently waited in line with me, and casually chatted with polling volunteers who quickly fell in love with the passionate future voter in front of them. When the time came to go into the booth, we both sprint-walked over to the curtain, and June restlessly waited as I filled out our ballot.
I squatted down next to my daughter to show her that we had just voted for Warren, and she scanned the paper with an ear-to-ear grin. She also reviewed my ballot to make sure I didn’t accidentally vote for the wrong person, handed it back up to me with a look of wise approval, and walked proudly beside me as I placed the ballot into the vote counting machine. And she certainly didn’t mind when a volunteer placed an “I voted” sticker on her winter coat.
What happened next melted my heart. I picked up June from preschool later that day and discovered that she had been talking nonstop to teachers and classmates about how she helped me vote. Just before bedtime, I also watched my daughter run around our house repeatedly shouting, “I’m going to be president!”
While this moment was so fucking adorable, it also represented something totally profound. As a tired-ass mom, I already knew that Warren was the candidate for me when she introduced her Universal Childcare plan. As an out and proud bisexual woman, I absolutely love knowing that she’ll be fighting to get the Equality Act passed to guarantee that no member of the LGBTQ+ community is discriminated against. And as someone whose family went into debt so I could attend college, I became a die-hard Warren fan after she promised to start forgiving at least 42 million Americans of their outstanding student loan balances on her very first day in office and invest $50 billion in historically Black colleges and universities to help close the racial wealth gap.
But the thing that sealed the deal for me? Witnessing the positive impact this extraordinary candidate has had on my daughter.
To June, Elizabeth Warren is as awe-inspiring as any female heroine she roots for in her favorite movies. Her empathetic, unshakeable spirit speaks volumes to my little girl, and her persistent desire to rail against social injustice is something June knows a lot about. My kid constantly helps classmates who are struggling, quickly jumps in to advocate for her little brother, and has always believed in the power of using her voice to lift up others. Seeing a woman like Warren stand in her power and use it to create real change in this world has made June believe that she can dream big and fight hard too.
All of our daughters need real-life heroes in their lives to emulate. They deserve tangible proof that a woman has as much of a right to lead others as the men who have done it for generations. Much like June, I spent my childhood dreaming of the day when we’d have a female president. It breaks my fucking heart that I’ve grown up in a country where women have not been supported and uplifted enough to make it happen yet. When a societal system works to only benefit a part of us and not the whole, we suffer greatly. Girls everywhere need to know that a female leader getting elected is not only be a possibility, but a reality.
As much as my daughter loved helping me vote, I definitely loved it more. By letting her join me in championing this courageous female candidate, I gave her the powerful gift of believing in a future where presidents like Elizabeth Warren can, and do, exist.