Tired doesn’t begin to describe this morning. Two alarms. A cup of strong coffee. And Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem all day*. That was the exact way I got through my sleep deprived state of wonder and awe after last night’s election results. That postcard that I got from this election? In late August, a very sweet, kind social studies teacher from New York rang my doorbell and asked if he could talk to me about the upcoming election. He asked a few questions. We shared some stories about students. And then he asked if I would address a postcard to an important person: myself. Not just address it to myself, by give myself a reason to vote for President Obama in November. I quickly listed two reasons . . . I’m a teacher and a woman. Because this election came down to two things for me: education and women’s rights. True to his word, the postcard showed up in my mail about four days ago, and true to my word, I voted for the president in this election.

That one word campaign slogan – forward – was brilliant, Mr. President. Truly, no one wants to go backwards. But guess what? You’ve got a long road ahead of you. The Congress is divided. Some in Congress have signed a pledge to a feckless individual, and they are afraid of saying, “You know what? You’re wrong, buddy.” Others cry religious freedom while trying to deny basic rights to others. Everyone wants smaller government. But not at the expense of their own pet projects. So what do you do? Dig in your heels or start to look for ways to compromise? Even a four-year-old knows that compromise is probably the way to go. Extend the olive branch. Ask Boehner and McConnell to lunch. Tell Joe to meet with the newbies in the Senate. Suggest that Democrats call the filibuster bluff. Keep on pushing for the middle class. Work it out with the right. Forward, indeed.

With two children graduating college in about six months, it reminds me a lot when I graduated. The world was kind of iffy. The economy was shitty at best. We just got out of Iraq. People were pretty down on the government. I didn’t think anything positive was going to happen. But slowly, little by little, we came together as a country and made things right. Made things better. Made it stronger. That’s what I want for my girls, Mr. President . . . better by moving forward. Grateful, even, to be moving forward and not backward.

* We started our annual Elks Americanism essay today (What Does the National Anthem Mean to Me?), and I’d encourage the committee that chooses these topics to meet with a sample group of middle school students prior to selecting next year’s topic.