In Writing

America is in a dark place, and it’s sometimes hard to watch. I was reminded of this as I read the news this morning: one headline said that some Republican law makers who voted for the “tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy” bill planned to retire and go into the private sector, where they can benefit from the callous law they just helped pass without being held accountable at the ballot for their part in passing it.

That is so cynical I can barely take that in without it knocking me over.

Then – and this is my fault for turning it on – CNN had a headline that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Hailey was delivering a speech that said the “U.S. will remember” any country that votes in support of a U.N. resolution condemning Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. “Will remember,” like a threat a mafia don might make to intimidate a rival faction. I didn’t have the energy to take it off mute to hear more. It’s painful to watch a once-dignified and politically-promising woman so debase herself to serve a terrible agenda.

I hate everything about this administration. I hate just about everything that’s happened politically in this last year. Immigrant families have been torn apart and devastated, at-risk children are losing health care due to inaction, civil rights protections are being rolled back, and hate and bigotry are emboldened. I’m exhausted.

And yet… I am hopeful. Alabama made me hopeful. Energized reporters make me hopeful. The dogged pursuit of justice by Bob Mueller makes me hopeful. My neighbor walking his dog makes me hopeful, bundled up against the cold wind as I look out my window, carrying on with his day-to-day life even as so many things seem to go wrong. Life goes on, that shrug against the winter nip tells me. Always, in some way, regular life goes on.

This regime that’s in the White House purports to represent us, but even in the best of days, administrations are just a symbol. Sure, we’ve spat an ugly succubus out of our underbelly as our current symbol, and the world has its hand over its mouth in horror. We know, world. We’re working to fix it. But he’s not America. We are.

America is the black women who organized to get out the vote in Alabama in record numbers. America is the Dreamers unafraid to demand the right to stay. America is the moms and dads – the nurses and firefighters and cashiers at Target – who work and then come home to help with homework. America is integrity and ingenuity and a respect for the past but a headlong rush into the new, the better, the more inclusive. I am America, along with the millions of others working to add a ray of light anywhere they see darkness. And I am sure of this: even in such darkness, light will prevail.

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