This is not a political rant. This is not an argument for or against your politics. I have my political positions and I vote my conscience. I don’t apologize for that and I don’t ask you to apologize for yours if they differ from mine. But it stops there. We must agree on one thing if there is anything left of our nation that can be united. We must agree that every human being has the right to liberty, equal justice under the law, and the pursuit of their own happiness as long as it doesn’t infringe on others.
When we limit those American promises to those who fit a certain mold, we’ve lost our way.
I’ll concede that I can’t predict the future. I’ll also admit that neither side has all the solutions to the complex problems we face as a divided nation — a nation of 340 million in a world of 7.2 billion. So, we can argue about which government program will be better, which international agreement we should honor or what is the fairest tax system. But we cannot argue about basic human rights — the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. When we marginalize any segment of our society, we compromise everyone. Each one of us has some attribute that could eventually be considered “not American enough.” When any government consolidates power, and decides which of those attributes is not acceptable, it is a short step to fascism. When that government operates with the financial backing of corporate power and money, that short step has been taken and we’ve arrived.
So, to those who say, let’s come together and unify, there’s simply no way that I can do that. Yes, some of my resistance was born in the last eight years of political obstruction and inexcusable disrespect for this president and the will of the people. But the real barrier is the marginalization of whole segments of our society portrayed in this president-elect’s campaign rhetoric.
This country has “elected” a woefully unprepared, thin-skinned narcissist; an example of the worst in our culture. We’ve “elected” him with a corrupted election system that stopped working for the people years ago. And now it appears his selection criteria for participation in his administration is biased toward those who were loyal versus those who are competent to serve.
This sad season of regrettable decisions has provoked two personal questions: For those who share my Italian ancestry and voted for this president-elect, did you forget the way our people were treated when they arrived about 100 years ago? How can you justify voting for a man who represents the same attitudes that rejected our brave fathers, mothers, and grandparents during those early years of struggle? And for those young parents who felt a need to shelter your children from hearing him spew his hate and then voted for him, how? How could you not see his election would legitimize so much of the hate that exists in this country? You must have seen it. You sheltered your children from it.
It’s been a week today and my shock gave in to anger. My anger to disappointment. My disappointment to sadness. A sadness like mourning the loss of a loved one, while not yet ready to accept that loss. It still isn’t real to me.
W.B. Yeats gave us something to think about today, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre; The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere, the ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Passionate intensity got us here. The center, long ago threatened, seems completely lost. The only barrier to anarchy is respect for every member of our society. That is the singular principle upon which we must unify. All the rest is noise in the system.