Your people are wobbly. The kindest thing to be said about the results of November 8 is that tens of millions of voters just fell for the biggest con in our national history. The worst that might be said, well, it’s just ugly. Our warped electoral process managed to select a man who expressly rejects the values that have been building inside you since well before that famous day of declaration in Philadelphia almost two and a half centuries ago: equality, inclusion, tolerance, freedom of religion and of speech, adherence or at least fealty to the concept of honesty, belief in the dignity of high office, compassion for the weak, respect for competence—I could go on, but you’ve already heard all that.
One of the weirdest items in that long night of dark news was that Canada’s immigration website broke down due to overload. Surely some of the traffic came from American Muslims, undocumented Hispanos, and others who feel the hot breath of hatred on their necks. But I am guessing that the majority of those digital proto-refugees were white Americans, like people I run into everyday, who feel overwhelming disgust and a desire to escape. “I can’t stay here,” I hear them saying. “I am moving to New Zealand.” Or Costa Rica. Or Sweden. Or into my bubble.
The sentiments are understandable, but they are exactly wrong.
Now is the time to stay put and not withdraw.
America, you need your true friends and most loyal children now more than ever. You need people to defend your lands from degradation and resource plunder. You need people who will uphold your ideals, even in a “post-truth” world of Internet click-bait and bullshit at the speed of light. You need people who will not be cowed by bombast, bluster, or bullying. You need people who will take a stand.
Everything is at stake: the climate, the missiles, the courts, the Bill of Rights, a stable world order and functioning economy, not to mention the metaphysical goal MLK used to talk about: climbing the arc of the moral universe, which, as he said, is long but bends toward justice. Well, the arc just got a little longer.
By now even the deaf have heard the loudening murmurs of apologia, the former critics saying, “Maybe he won’t be so bad (and by the way, may I have a job?).” The pundits, meanwhile, natter fretfully that in the final analysis, ahem, this may be the kind of change we’ve been needing, that we must trust the will of the people, that things will be okay, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Don’t believe it. This leopard will not change his spots, nor mend his grotesque psyche. Especially as the pressure mounts and the realities of that supremely difficult job become evident, he will unravel. The now familiar venality, intemperateness, and inability to judge fairly himself or the world will rise to the surface. And goodness knows what the consequences will be.
America, your loyal people must dig in. Resist. Stand tall. We know that patriotism is inherently defensive (and nationalism the opposite). We are true patriots, and we will defend your land, your people, and your values. We will make ourselves heard, and we will act in ways that embody your ideals. We will not accede to what the weak-spined will try to explain away as the new normal.
Dear America, we have come too far, we owe you too much, and we love you too deeply to do less.
Your devoted sons and daughters.
Header photo of Statue of Liberty by ParentRap, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of William deBuys by Ben Moscona.