Tough, tough day.
Many of us will whistle past the graveyard, television off, as someone who we detest with every fiber of our being becomes the face of the nation. Others will watch, steeling themselves against the despair of it all. But make no mistake about it, whether we tune in or not, the United States will swear in a new head of the executive branch. Someone utterly unqualified, unsuited and unbecoming. In a matter of minutes, the walking personification of the worst of America’s traits —ostentatious, uninformed, gauche, near-sighted, inconsiderate, self-important, deceitful, doughy, tacky, money-obsessed, slick, greedy, and actively willfully misleading — will become the Commander-in-Chief of her armed forces.
The moment is here.
But we don’t have to be depressed about it. Sometimes, we all need a wake up call, and there has never been a bigger one than the acidic, hateful reek of this man’s shameful platform. He is a human wake up call. He is a biological billboard that screams WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. And he’s going to be sitting in John Adams’ chair. FDR’s chair. Barack’s chair.
Thinking of him holding court in the Oval Office is nauseating. What we, as a country needed, more than anything, was to rise up and kick this glib, unsophisticated boor back to the stone age where he belongs. Instead, somehow, defying all reason, we gave him access to the nuclear codes. We took a mentally ill, one-trick hate pony and gave him unfettered control of the NSA. My god. Dear heavenly god: what have we done? Whenever I think of that I shudder.
And now, bigots everywhere feel empowered to rise up and open a Pandora’s box of malaise. The highest public appointments in the land have been proffered to a clown car of relics and hatemongers and imbeciles. It’s alarming. Men and women of measurable duplicity and low moral fiber will be in charge of vast components of the machinery of state (that, in some cases, they don’t think should even exist). The short and long term ramifications of such unique, unbridled incompetence will likely be felt for a generation.
The hardest part, for me, will always be how close we came to a true quantum leap forward, only to see it pulled from our grasp. It wasn’t only what we didn’t win, it was what we all, collectively, lost. Hope, progress, decency, fairness, equality, vision and stability seemed to vanish during a slow march through the worst night of recent memory as states — stultifyingly, methodically — turned red.
Maybe we lost some optimism and innocence, as well. Particularly for those of us who had to wake our children the next morning, holding back tears, still in shock, and explain that democracy is …complicated. It’s a day we’ll never forget.
But more than that, it was a sign that we may never, in our lifetime, get to the golden place we’ve worked and hoped for. By putting a fraud and liar in The White House — when he deigns it’s good enough for him — we have assuredly slowed our nation’s social and humanitarian progress down to a trickle. The concept of even basic gender equality already seems quaint, and has a olden-time patina of magical thinking about it. This election has already affected our standing in the world, and it puts in jeopardy the inherent stolidity of the country our children will inherit.
And that’s just sad. Just crying-with-all-your-heart sad. That we might not live to see a better tomorrow.
But I say, damnit, we will.
Because we’ll work harder and smarter and we’ll fight bigots and liars every step of the way. We will castrate the cacophony of miscreants and bridge tolls who would obfuscate and diminish the greatest rights and freedoms of our nation. We will protect our fellow citizens more than ever. We will bravely stand up for people where we might have, in the past, looked away. And we will demand and embolden a more informed citizenry.
In this era of coming division and dissent, our children will now be raised to identify corruption with ease. They’ll be able to sniff out a liar and have the tools to discern fake news from real news. They won’t be as susceptible to propaganda. They will learn from our complacency and from our mistakes and they won’t allow this type of foundation-imparing hornswoggle to go down on their watch. They will demand a process where elections are more substantive and more representative. They will refuse to be bullied. They will fortify and empower the fourth estate. And they will witness the coming fear-hurricane with such clear eyes that never again will this nation be violated by a contemptible, autocratic, cartoon villain.
This may feel like the beginning of the end, but I’m here to tell you that it’s just the end of the beginning. This is when America grows up. We’ve been through every type of leader before, beloved and hated alike, but we’ve never willingly handed over the chalice of nuclear winter to a person so entirely incapable of holding it. It begins, and ends, today. Today we officially turn the page. America has hit her adolescence and it’s going to hurt for a while.
But we’ll be strong in the face of adversity.
Let others weep for our lost future: you and I will recover it and make it better than ever. As our nation is sullied today by swearing in a bamboozling charlatan, you and I will find our inner strength and get to work. And we won’t be alone. We are going to make America great again, but not in the way the soon-to-be-president intended.
So don’t think about where we’ve been. You can’t change that. Think about where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there, and let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.
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