Election night with my 91-year-old Bubbie
“When I wake up tomorrow, I don’t expect to know anything.” That’s what my 91 year-old Bubbie told me the morning of the election. Unlike many of us who are glued to our screens monitoring every change of the needle, my grandmother elected for an early night’s sleep after watching Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (which she never misses).
Before Bubbie went to bed, and before the results started coming in, we chatted about what we thought would happen. “I would be ecstatic to have Biden win but won’t be hysterical if he doesn’t,” she told me from her Archie Bunker-esque recliner where she spends most of her day reading. “Unfortunately, I think Trump will win.”
“I’m hoping and praying that Biden will win because I think he’s a decent person who really is interested in bringing this country back together,” she went on. However, her gut impression was that Trump will stay in power, despite every poll suggesting otherwise. “If he’s elected, I can’t even begin to think about how bad it will be, because the man can’t keep a cabinet. If he hires someone who’s good and can do things, he doesn’t let them. He’s a tyrant and he’s a bully.”
I asked her what she felt the long-term implications would be from the Trump era, regardless of who wins this election. “I think he’s done such damage in separating this country that it will take a minimum of 25-35 years to come back. Maybe people will see what he’s done, that he lied to them, and we’ll come back. People are hungry for peace and better healthcare.”
On who she would’ve liked to see be President in her lifetime, she told me that “Eleanor Roosevelt would have made a wonderful President.” Apparently she was smarter than FDR!
Bubbie also thinks we will have a woman President soon, but that a Jewish President seems far away.
When it comes to the key issues, my Bubbie sounds like an MSNBC pundit: “We need to get rid of Covid. We need better healthcare. Stabilized healthcare where people don’t have to pay a fortune for it. And thirdly I believe very strongly in the infrastructure. Immigration is also very important. We have to change the laws.”
She emphasized how my great-grandparents emigrated from Belarus and Poland for a better life in New York. “Remember your roots,” she told me. “After all, we are a country of immigrants. And we should certainly help the American Indians. I feel very strongly about that.”
Perhaps the most meaningful thing she shared with me came over breakfast this morning. She shared an article with me about LGBTQ rights being challenged at the Supreme Court. “It upset me greatly,” she told me. “People should be able to do what they want. Get married. If they can’t have children, adopt children, and live a decent life. We need to be more accepting of people.”
It meant a lot to hear that. My first election was in 2012, and I remember feeling anxious, being a closeted teen in a country that had limited LGBTQ protections. It was such a relief to me when Obama won, and it made a huge difference in the quality of my life. I could only hope the same for others, knowing an election could alter the status of their life, hopefully for good.
Peter Fox is a writer who focuses on the intersection of LGBTQ identity and Jewish world politics. His writing has been featured in The Jerusalem Post, The Advocate, and Tablet Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @thatpeterfox.