In 2014, my baby daughter Elouisa died in my arms and my life changed forever. Some weeks later, my husband helped me name a curious result of our loss — we were afraid of nothing. Nothing could wreak the havoc that Elouisa’s death did and so our new reality felt like an opportunity to live more bravely. To realize, despite the chaos of a shattered heart, the absence of fear as bold hope.
That has remained with me, and I have remained unafraid until I witnessed Donald Trump become the Republican presidential nominee. I am frightened of the ugliness and hatred that are at the center of his messaging, the emptiness of his ideas, and his megalomaniacal focus on personal gain. I am horrified by the normalization of hate speech in U.S. political discourse. And his appeal disturbs me, perhaps all the more so because I have watched his rise from afar, from Amsterdam where the forces that seem to be fueling Trump’s rise and other political movements across Europe feel eerily reminiscent of the 1930s.
Amsterdam is a city not unfamiliar with lost daughters. After Elouisa died, I began volunteering with the Anne Frank House where the lessons of her story illuminate the timelessness of the persecution Anne and her family faced and the very human roles involved therein. Victims, perpetrators, helpers and bystanders are everywhere.
Even beyond the contrast in policy agendas and vision, this election represents a sharp contrast in the humanity of the candidates. I cannot know whether Donald Trump is actually a magnanimous soul and this campaign is just an extension of a cultivated reality show persona designed to increase ratings and generate profits. But as Michael Bloomberg pointed out, the president must govern for reality, not reality television. And I do know that Hillary Clinton is generous, loving and has never been a bystander.
I am leaking an email from Hillary because I also refuse to stand by. Hopefully, last week’s convention went far in addressing what is sometimes called her “likability” challenge or what Ezra Klein called “the gap” between how those who have worked with or known Hillary describe her and how she is perceived by the public. I have had the great privilege of knowing Hillary for 18 years, primarily as the mother of my dear friend Chelsea.
When she introduced her “wonderful, thoughtful, hilarious mother” at the convention, Chelsea explained that Hillary endures amid “the sound and the fury of politics” because “she never, ever forgets who she’s fighting for.” Chelsea often says their family motto is “get caught trying.” Nothing says more about a person than their values as reflected through family. It was humbling and moving that Chelsea herself left her 9-week old daughter for the first time to come stand with me at our daughter’s memorial service. As she was en route, I received the following email:
When Chelsea arrives to be with you, she’ll be carrying my love and support for you, your husband and son as you go through this painful and challenging time.
If there is anything at all I can ever do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask, my friend.
I have countless stories I could tell about Hillary’s authenticity, her compassion, her grace under unrelenting scrutiny and mud-slinging, her determined work ethic, her trying. But her words in this message to me reveal more about her than any anecdote I could share. The Clintons are not bystanders. They try. And they care. Especially Hillary.
Let’s save the Russians the trouble of meddling in our electoral process even more and focus on what qualities we really want in a commander in chief — intelligence, compassion, integrity, and perseverance. Only one candidate has those qualities. Let’s learn from the past and draw on a compelling vision for the future. Get caught trying this election, don’t be a bystander, and vote for Hillary Clinton for President.