08 November, 2016

Upsidedown States of America

As of my writing this, neither side has lost. Neither Trump has lost, nor has America lost. Not yet. It isn't looking good.

I am tentatively holding on to the delusion of hope. I'm clinging to it. Not that Hillary will win. Even if she does, she still has to contend with 40% of America that are okay with a profoundly unstable and ignorant man in office (to say nothing of his more specific biases). I'm hopeful because this is still America.

And in America the bad guys do not get to win.

Even when this ends, and if it looks like it's over, nothing is over. Even if it's over, it isn't over. As Barack Obama said tonight, "The sun will rise in the morning." And it will. And it will again and again and again. There's a hope in that. There has to be. For as long as the decent people of the world, on every side of the political spectrum draw breath, we can still fight this cancer that has slowly spread across this country. Despair won't beat it. Despair is what built it.

And fuck that. To quote somebody else, long lost to the Internet's interlocking spheres of re-purposing, it isn't fair that Donald Trump can look in the mirror and feel good about himself and you look in the mirror and you feel terrible.

There's another quote, one we all cling to, one built into the myth of this country's fourth estate. Or at least, it is amongst the pantheon of liberal America. It's from Edward R Murrow. It's from a longer speech, which you can easily watch on your own. The line that sticks out to me, though is this:

We are not descended from fearful men.

It's a beautiful sentiment. It's also a fantasy. Of course we are. We are descended from Indian-killing, witch-burning, slave-driving, segregating, lynching men. We are also descended from men that stood by the wayside for centuries while these things went on.

We are also descended from heroes. Great men and women of all shades, all genders, all religions, all sexualities. People like Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. Clifford Clinton and Abraham Lincoln. Audy Murphy and Joshua Chamberlain. Harvey Milk and Mary Harris Jones. There are victims, as well. Names and places and people that are too numerous to name. They do not deserve to be lumped in with the stains that cover our history. But the fearful men's blood is in our own. It's alive tonight. It's speaking to us.

Elections have always been carnivals of horrors. They rarely seem to be civil, they only ever seem to be less terrible. The past two elections were rather tame compared to 2004. Especially when compared to 2000. The fearful men were at work there, as well. It's always been this way. From LBJ back to Andrew Jackson. Fear and loathing is an intrinsic part of the American process.

Which is why the American experiment is so expectional. It is that despite the worst of the worst being allowed to live amongst us and occasionally rule over us, we prosper. What makes America exceptional is that despite

Donald Trump is not strong enough to break our Union. Neither is his lapdog Mike Pence. Nor are the cowards in congress or the criminals advising him. He does not get to do that. They do not get to do that. Neither do his supporters. To us liberals it might seem like the United States has been turned upside down. It hasn't. It's doing what it is always doing. It is carrying on. It is continuing an ugly, uneven legacy. Despite that, it will work.

Tomorrow the sun will rise. We will know the kind of men that live among us. And then we get to work.

We donate. We volunteer. We march. We picket. We demonstrate. We become allies. We vote. We fight. We act like decent human beings. We tell ourselves that we might be descended from fearful men, but we do not have to be.

Because this is America, damnit.

That means something.

It is up to us to determine what that means.