The shit show of the last three weeks — the endless parade of buffoonery, small-minded fear-baiting, Twitter hurricanes, and the recurring image of a swollen, pinch-mouthed, ego-drunk and lecherous asshole we’re now supposed to call the leader of the Free World — convinced me that all along, I’ve secretly loved my country.
Formerly, it was hush hush. Such a secret was only quietly revealed a month ago in a 35-page dossier put together by a former British spy … . Ok. Just kidding. It was such a secret that even I was in the dark.
I had my reasons. Nationalism scares me. The idea of American exceptionalism has always rang false, and though I was loyal to my country and its people, and eager to see it evolve and improve in every manner possible, I was sure that only random chance had made me an American, and that this country was as impure and prone to shenanigans as all the rest.
I still feel that way. But after this past inauguration, and the protests that followed — locally, the Women’s March was an event that found me, along with my wife and two daughters, hefting colorful signs and shouting protest songs to the wide-eyed homeless hangers-on on Eureka’s Boardwalk — I’ve uncovered a red-white-and-blue streak that runs from the back of my Liberty tongue to the itchy tips of my big Freedom toes.
I love the fight in these people. Trump, to beat a dead horse, is dangerous. He’s prone to fascist ideologies, addicted to conspiracy theories, lacking even the minutest level of intellectual curiosity, and has proven repeatedly to be a pathological liar. It’s going to take furious resistance, nuanced thinking, and courage to stop the avalanche of misogyny and racism erupting now from the White House.
I was in Washington, D.C., when Barack Obama was sworn into office in 2009. The air then was rife with excitement, a sense of national unity and hope that this country might finally be turning a corner on an issue — race — that had long functioned as a rot in the heart of our democracy.
Was I naive to think it would be so simple? Tone deaf to believe that the existential battle could be so easily won? Yes. I was caught up in the moment, myopic and privileged, too quick to discount the lingering resentments of those who will always seek someone to blame. Yet thronging around me that day, the vast and human sea crested into waves of happy anticipation. I felt the same.
The following eight years and the subsequent tyranny of ignorance learnt me well.
Yet even through all that obstruction, all the race-based innuendos and rank prejudice displayed by the GOP, true outrage eluded me. I hadn’t yet discovered my love of country; that willingness to fight for my nation’s soul, to get down and dirty and make a loud, clamorous fuss for what I believe our nation should be.
Such a response — in me at least — arose only when I really understood just how far from our history, from our most humane and gentle impulses, the Orange One is willing to take us.
Leave it to this damnable dumbass in chief to spend all his campaign, transition and the first awful weeks of his administration demonstrating ineptitude. What a carnival of stupidity, arrogance, malice and fear. I should thank him for kicking my conscience into gear.
An act of protest, surrounded by thousands of thoughtful, like-minded folks all pushing for a better kind of community, ultimately demonstrated to me that relief can only come through patriotic resistance. Passivity, in this moment, is the same as acquiescence.
Hundreds this past weekend have been rounded up by American immigration authorities. We’ve pissed off nearly every nation around the world, including our allies, but give ourselves a hernia in delivering a diplomatic reach-around to a war criminal gangster thug from the former Soviet Union.
One Muslim ban has already been slapped down by the courts and another one is apparently in the works. A health care system based on high-risk pools? A border wall half as long as the U.S. is wide?
WTF? If I typed it all out, my hands would cramp.
Most tellingly, he and his peeps truly want to initiate a war between what they view as the Christian West and the Islamic East. And they’ll lie, cheat and steal any way they can to scare the American people into believing such tactics are necessary.
I now know I can’t — I won’t — stand for it. I care too much. Therefore, I must be a Patriot.
It’s painful to be so engaged. I can’t stop watching or reading the news. Every conversation circles back to the outrage. I feel hopeless and empowered all at the same time, and even my writing has suffered. My intent with this week’s column was to write on something different entirely, something breezy and fine like beach picnics and summer street baseball. As soon as my fingers hit the keys,however, my indignation kicked in.
Usually, at this point in such a missive I’d offer a final appeal to convince any soft Trump supporters to jump ship. I’d use whatever evidence I could to address the concerns that led them to such a choice.
Not this time. For one, it seems to me anyone who hasn’t made up their own mind at this point that Trump is an unhinged narcissist who peddles in lies, fear, and intolerance, isn’t worth the trouble. As far as I can tell, we will never be on the same page.
Secondly, this is not about them. I hear people crying in their big pillows about how to recapture the white poor and middle class voter who turned to Trump to get heard. I see them hatching plans to react to Trump and shore up these losses.
Let them go. Take bold action because it’s the right thing to do. Quit calculating which strategic move will best convince the largest demographics, an all-too-common Democratic propensity, and speak from principle. Yes, like Bernie.
Politick like your heart is on fire, because this time, my fellow Americans, it really is.
James Faulk is a writer living in Eureka. He can be reached at email@example.com.