I am writing to you a few days before Election Day. Being an optimist, I believe that Hillary will be the winner in what has been one of the most, if not the most, polarizing election in U.S. history. We have watched as Hillary Clinton, a superbly qualified candidate, was vilified and threatened with incarceration and violence. Hillary faced off against a bullying, racist, misogynist fascist. Through it all she was strong and steady—the personification of grace under fire.
Friends, family, colleagues and neighbors worked phones, traveled to red states, walked door to door and/or donated money at an unprecedented level to elect the first woman president and to keep our democratic institutions strong. They went the extra mile because al l of us were rocked to our very core by a right wing candidate that pandered to the worst in people—hateful racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim comments spilled out of television sets and the internet and into our living rooms and into our lives. We were disgusted, shocked, angry and, finally, exhausted and fed up. LGBT elders and boomers, the activist generation, were energized and reengaged by this election.
We were everywhere.
A 65-year-old gay man: “Heading to Ohio this weekend. Come join me.”
An 85-year-old gay man: “This election is crazy. I have given more money to Hillary than I thought I would and more money than I have ever given a candidate in my entire life. And that is saying a lot. But I am too scared not to help as much as I can.”
A 72-year-old lesbian: “Sorry, I have to cancel the movie for Friday night. I’ve decided to help in Nevada. It is all just too nerve racking not to do something this weekend. Be back on Monday.”
When you read this, the election will be over and we will have much work to do. The next four years are going to be hard, very hard. There will again be gridlock in Washington. If Hilary wins, the Republican far right will attempt to undermine her at every turn. If she loses, we the people will need to stay vigilant and engaged. What is different from the last eight years is that Trump has empowered and legitimized racism and the politics of hate. At a time when our country is challenged by terrorism and global and financial instability, we are at war with ourselves about our fundamental, core values. The ugliness and rancor we have witnessed will only get worse.
Baby boomers—the generation that challenged the Vietnam War and fought for racial, gender and LGBT equality—has been on the front lines in this campaign, and I believe, will continue to be engaged to fight for the values we have fought for all our lives. Baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. The fastest growing part of the U.S. population is people over 65. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 years of age or older. We are living longer and healthier lives. Boomers are retired, semi-retired or are preparing for retirement and looking forward to a long, healthy and meaningful later life. It is hard to think about “sunset years” when you know you are likely to live three or more decades after retirement. Looking 30+ years straight on is hardly a time for disengagement, but rather an opportunity to reinvent and reimagine ourselves.
In a digital global world that will change everything about our day to day lives from work to how we care for ourselves and each other, our skills and our wisdom honed over a lifetime of living are needed to ensure that the world is a better, more loving place when we leave it. We will have a myriad of opportunities to manifest the wish to leave this world a better place. Here’s to making America the best it can be.
Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse. She is also a leading advocate and educator in LGBT affirming dementia care and a member of the Advisory Council to the Aging and Adult Services Commission.