Look, I’m as sick as anyone at what passes for acceptable political discourse now. And I’m genuinely alarmed by the daily unfolding of what already looks like a slow-motion disaster, with weeks to go yet before the inauguration of a new administration.
But please, fellow leftists or liberals or progressives or whatever we’re calling ourselves, I beg you: Think hard about what it means to say #NotMyPresident.
I understand that you don’t care that you’re factually wrong when you say it. I understand that you care about what your stance says about the state of affairs and your repugnance for it.
But you are factually wrong. Seriously: He is, or barring a massive crisis he will be, your president. Your principles won’t stop his FBI from bugging you when he tells them to. He will be able to pardon your basher, if he wishes, and he will have the power to detain your ally by fiat. These are facts, of the kind we in the honest world say we rely on.
More important: We progressives roundly mocked the bitter rightists who said the same thing about President Obama. We rightly questioned their commitment to the American ideal as we did so. It is dishonest of us to claim righteousness in saying this cheap, easy thing now.
Most important: We spent 16 months decrying the way our compatriots on the right channeled very real concerns into ugly, divisive claims about our motivations and morals. Can we not find a way to deplore — yes, deplore — the actions and the decisions and the appointments with which we disagree without demolishing the idea that we are in fact compatriots? Without backing down from the challenge of knowing that we all of us, collectively, own this fragile thing we reinvent by microns every day?
The United States of America isn’t magic. It’s not perfect. Our system isn’t morally superior to others, though some would have it so.
But it’s not wholly wicked either. It is a union meant to grow ever more perfect. And a peerless man died in the cause of preserving that union.
And dammit, it is ours. Ours together, to save or to break.
So please. Less posturing. More work.
Music for this post: “To Leave, To Break,” from Vanessa, by Samuel Barber