Four years ago, I took Lil E, then half his current age, with me to the polling place a few blocks away. Then I penned him his own ballot. He voted in the parking lot, strapped into his carseat, barely able to hold the pen with his oversized gloves on.
Later that day, he voted in his preschool classroom. He'd brought up the election in class, spurring the mock-voting where every kid got to cast two ballots. Obama won in pre-K and in the USA. But four years later, E remembers voting once for each candidate and still believes every kid ("and adult even") should get two ballots.
That night, I sat anxiously with my parents in my living room, watching the returns. Only a few miles away, crowds pushed in tightly to Grant Park, just as anticipatory as we were about the final call. E was still tiny and it was past his bedtime and cold, but I longed to be there with the masses of people cheering on what I hoped would be our nation's first family. But looking back, I am grateful for the tiny circle of support in my living room that night, for the time to listen to parents talk about Kennedy's election and the similarities in the energy and faith and uprising of younger generations.
Of course, it was Obama. I mean, we know that because we have been with him for his first term not because anyone was "of course" about his chances of winning. It all felt so precarious up until the words were officially spoken. The three of us cried.
It occured to me that night that my son would never grow up questioning the normalcy of a person of color being this country's president. I was bowled over by that revelation and it made me want for more -- a kid who doesn't think twice about the legality of gay marriage or access to birth control and abortions or pay equity. I am still holding on to those dreams.
Today, I teared up to cast my ballot, again for Obama. I felt a wave of relief and hope as I watched it the counter suck up my ballot and register the numbers. The prevailing question of this election, "Is your life better than it was four years ago?", rang in my ears. Yes, I thought back, it is.
But one thing hasn't changed -- that relief and hope. And it didn't need to. I have that very investment in President Obama today as I did four years ago and that is one thing that is perfectly the same.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I believe in reproductive justice for all Americans. I believe in safe, legal and accessible abortion and the right to choose without question. I believe in birth control availability, accurate information and coverage by insurance.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I see the social good of Obamacare.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because the civil right to marry should be available to all Americans, no matter what gender we claim.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I want to bring home the troops who are serving in conflict and to create viable, actionable, immediate exit strategies where our military serves in conflict.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I believe in investing funds in the future of our country -- education, public programming, green space, and yes, Sesame Street.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I will never stop being an activist for fair and equitable pay for women.
I voted to re-elect President Barack Obama because I feel deeply in my heart that one day my son will look back on the good works done by this administration and be proud he remembers it, grateful his mother participated in and in wonder of what life was like in this country during the time before.
My little light is my boy, my beliefs and what I hold high as best for most of us in this nation. I am proud to see it shine on.