What Election Day Taught Me About Myself As A Leader
I’m emotional today. I’ve cried. Sobbed. Blown crazy amounts of snot out of my nose.
Yes, this is election related but it’s about so much more than who won the election held in the United States.
I’ve seen people I respect writing to their audiences that entrepreneurs must not be distracted by this. And that their disbelief over this man’s victory is probably a sign of some discord in their own businesses. That didn’t sit too well with me.
I am passionately an entrepreneur. But I am also passionately a woman, passionately an American, and passionately a believer and supporter of democracy.
In fact, I was on my feet for about 13 hours yesterday running a polling place in Philadelphia as Judge of Elections. It is my passion that kept me going, and even running on fumes. And that’s the kind of passion that makes an entrepreneur successful at what they do. But more about that in a minute….
As Judge of Elections, I must keep things nonpartisan and create a safe place for individuals to vote their conscience. (I could crack a joke here about people’s consciences needing a date or 20 with a psychologist, but I won’t.)
- I keep the environment free of talk of specific candidates.
- I keep voters from taking photos or shooting video inside to prevent intimidation.
- I keep the ballots that committee people hand to voters as they walk in from being left around.
- I keep my poll workers running as efficiently as possible so our lines move quickly and people can vote.
- I make phone calls downtown to figure out where voters who don’t actually know where they’re supposed to be voting from should go to make sure their vote is effective.
Judge of Elections is a position I’ve held for 9 elections (twice a year, every year, I’m there) to ensure that Americans -- 800 of them in my division -- can access their right to vote. Where I live, it means setting up machines, setting up the paperwork process and ensuring its smooth operation, and closing the machines at night while getting the results to the City so reporting is done as swiftly as possible and people can know within hours who has won.
I was baptized to the job under fire: the woman who had been Judge of Elections in my polling place for over 40 years died suddenly and I had to take over with very little training or warning on the day of the General election in 2012 that saw Obama reelected to the highest office in the land. And for those of you who vote only once or twice every 4 years, you need to know we get a LOT more traffic during Presidential elections than any other. In my division, which has some 800 registered voters, we see about 50-100 during a non-Presidential election and yesterday, we had 422 vote in my division.
I also want to mention that my voting place serves two divisions and I am often the only one with the knowledge to keep the place running. And while some can do this job and see it as just that: some hours they're putting in for a paycheck; I have definitely felt the intense weight of ensuring these 100s of voters make their voices heard.
My Judgeship has been a direct parallel to my journey as an Entrepreneur. I never expected to be here. And some days it doesn’t go how I want and I contemplate quitting, but it’s just not possible for me to quit.
Because as much as I believe in my ability to create a life for myself and make as much money as I wish doing something I love, I believe it is critical that we vote and that we value and defend democracy.
Yes, there is corruption in politics. No, the system isn’t perfect. (I’d personally like to do away with the Electoral College.) Yes, sometimes I fear that it is more like the show Scandal than we even know.
But I still believe in the power of democracy and of choice. I believe that the action of voting taken by millions of people shapes our present and our future. I believe that it is important to come together and decide who we are and what we want moving forward as a country just as I believe it is important that my clients do that for themselves in their lives & businesses.
Every single day you vote. You make choices about your own identity & beliefs. You make choices that affect other people, even people you have never seen or spoken to. You make choices that change the future for you and the world at large.
Are you voting your conscience? Are you voting with love or with fear?
Because that… THAT is why I cry today. While it is my job to not show partisan favoritism in the polling place, I am and will always be WITH HER, and I am devastated that she lost. Devastated that the vision she has for America is not the one that won the Electoral College. (Though we must remember she won the popular vote!) Devastated that the fear and anger spouted by the other guy was so well-received that the margin in the popular vote was only about 200,000 votes.
I am devastated that those who support the male candidate (I can't speak his name or write it) want me to shut up about my disappointment. These people clearly do not understand how democracy works. The votes have been cast and a winner decided, and I have to accept that, but I do not have to like it. I do not have to shut up. I do not have to hold back my tears.
I am allowed to feel the same shock, shame and embarrassment over this election that I'd feel if my loving, tells-me-I-can-do-anything boyfriend said to me, "Bitch, go make me a sandwich."
No, I didn't vote for her just because she's a woman. Or because I thought she was the lesser of two evils. I had my love affair with Bernie, too, but I also realized that the thoughts I was thinking that told me not to like her weren't coming from my own inner voice. They were put there by people who wanted Trump to win. And so, as the election drew nearer, I fell more and more in love with my candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As an entrepreneur, I can see how some shifts in her campaign, some shifts in how she presented herself and went about attracting supporters could have changed the results.
As an enlightened human being, I'm beyond saddened that fear and hate won.
I share all of this because (1) it's who I am and you should know who I am so you know whether or not you like me, and (2) you can learn something from this. Know that you are worthy of serving a purpose in life that you are endlessly passionate about. So passionate that you can run on fumes and you do it not just for yourself but for all the people you're serving.
Are you that passionate about how you serve and what you have to say to the world?
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