I used to really love my country. True, the Founding Fathers’ “We, the people” jam left out almost all of the people. When George Washington was elected in 1789, only 6% of the population could vote. Women, African-Americans, the poor—when we said “people” we didn’t mean you. You don’t count, and you won’t for centuries. And yes, America’s history is soaked with blood and shame. There is slavery, the mass slaughter of its indigenous people, segregation, and a populace too-often tolerant of bigotry and the corrupt machinations of the one-percent.
But I thought America was moving in the right direction. We fought fascism in foreign lands, we invited the tired, poor and hungry to find opportunity and start anew. We passed laws to finally give women and minorities the rights they deserved. We formed alliances with other nations to protect one another from violent despots. Well, no more.
Call me crazy, but I prefer my Presidents to be intelligent. I like them to not be historically corrupt, famously egotistical, outlandishly liars. I prefer the leader of my country not brag about grabbing women’s genitals. I don’t want the kind of person who’d call patriotic heroes like John McCain “losers”. I don’t want them to vilify the free press, undermine our national security, or imprison children. Also, perhaps my bar is too high, but I adamantly do not want my Presidents to be “aiding and abetting the enemy” traitors.
You might say I’m being short-sided to give up on America now. Once this seriously treasonous baby is thrown out with the bath water we can go back to our nation’s onward and upward trajectory. But while I despise this seditious simpleton, he’s not important enough to break my heart. I loathe him for what he is and what he’s done, but it isn’t he who fills me with shame. This horror was self-inflicted, and I don’t know how to abide waking each morning in a country half-full with fellow citizens bigoted enough, greedy enough, or dumb enough to make this happen.
Those who chose to elect Trump in November 2016 chose to do so after:
- Trump’s own racism leveraged the racism of the electorate by lying and claiming President Obama was not born in the United States. He constantly claimed he had a lot of evidence – evidence he never produced, naturally. His “birtherism” made very clear that Donald was both a racist and a liar. Yet still they voted for him.
- After using made-up foot ailments to avoid Vietnam he ridiculed John McCain, calling him “a loser” for being captured (even though McCain chose to stay with his men and endure horrible tortures). He went on to mock a Gold Star family. Yet still they voted for him.
- He cheated on his wives. He used vulgar language to boast about sexually assaulting women. Treats women like objects, whether he’s sponsoring beauty pageants, or insulting those he’s groped. Yet still they voted for him.
- He has a well-known history of multiple bankruptcies, thievery, and skipping out on debts and bills. For decades no American banks would loan to him anymore. Yet still they voted for him.
- He is legendarily egotistical and has no record of ever doing anything to help society or those less fortunate. He reneged on philanthropic pledges. (He is so famously horrific that The Simpsons chose him to be the President in an episode about a dystopian future.) Yet still they voted for him.
- He has the vocabulary of a none-too-bright fourth-grader and the tiny intellect of a grandiose non-reader. Yet still they voted for him.
- He lied about, slandered and bullied Hillary Clinton, a woman with a record of public service. Yet still they voted for him.
Despite overwhelming evidence about the kind of man he is, his history of corruption, his lies, his absence of experience and the mammoth lack of character, integrity and intelligence, millions of Americans still decided he was a good choice to lead the nation. And most of those millions continue to support him, or at the very least ignore what he’s done since his election. The environmental destruction, the corruption, the daily lies, Charlottesville, the judges. And oh yeah, the collusion with our country’s enemy: HIS TREASON. He is a traitor who uses his platform, as all despots do, to undermine the press, his own justice department and those agencies tasked with protecting our citizenry. Right now, as the FBI and CIA warn us of Russia’s attacks on our infrastructure and elections, Trump attacks Americans and defends those who are currently our attacking our country.
Trump voters put their fear, partisanship, prejudice and ignorance above what’s good for the country. And now, despite overwhelming evidence of clear and present danger they put their heads in the sand and stick to their guns. (Often, literally.)
So yes, I have the predictable contempt for politicians who chose their office, money and power over the welfare of the country they’re sworn to protect. But rebelling against corrupt leaders would disappoint but energize me. I’d be invigorated fighting side by side with my fellow Americans to battle any threats. But what to do when it is these very citizens who are dismantling our country? It’s Americans – “we, the people” – who are standing by as our republic is attacked from without and within. How to defend a citizenry who participate in our own destruction?
I guess it isn’t so much that America broke my heart as much as Americans have broken my heart. “We, the people” have broken my heart. You’ve contaminated my patriotism by making me wonder just who and what my country is about. You’ve made me angry. You’ve made me despair. You’ve made me grieve. You’ve stolen something that was precious and reliable. I hope I can regain my national pride and love. But to those who either maliciously or naively did this to our country and to me, I confess: forgiveness will not come easy.