I had a lot of things to write this week, but it’s not going to come out today.
I’ve felt numb for days.
In the United States of America, a group of violent insurgents breached the capital while urged on by the president and some of his allies. It’s something that was entirely preventable. He told us he wouldn’t accept the election results–a pronouncement that is completely at odds with the ideals of a democratic republic.
On a personal note, I’ve never liked the president. His policies don’t align with what I want for my country. I find many of his personal values abhorrent. He has mocked the vulnerable and boasted of sexual assault–things that I don’t associate with men of honor. And yet I have always done my best to understand the many good people around me who would “hold their noses” and vote for him–believing in many of his policies even if they didn’t like the man. I didn’t feel that respect for his unabashed admirers, but chose to honor their right to free speech by ignoring them. I’ve voted for people they may not care for, and I by and large have been treated with the same respect. (Social media has been different, so I avoid placing politics on my feeds.)
We can disagree on just about anything and learn to respect each other. That’s an important principle–especially when people engage in good faith debate. Everyone feels pain when their vote is on the losing side. But we can’t just grab our ball and go home. We have to learn to love the other side and work together. Party over country is the path to misery.
Despite what you might have heard from the president, I’ve met very few democrats who hate the constitution, the flag, American values, the military, and our institutions. Patriots are on both sides of the aisle. Choosing “us vs. them” is usually a false dichotomy. Intolerance doesn’t work that well in a complicated, pluralistic society.
And yet for this nation to stand, we have to have some ground rules. And in a democracy, there is one behavior that we cannot allow: you cannot illegally defy the results of an election. You can pursue every legal means available to you. You can debate election security. You can believe it isn’t fair. But the moment you suggest that anything other than the non-violent will of the people is paramount, you are engaging in revolution. That might be what you want, but you can’t honestly do it under the guise of the constitution, the flag, or the people. We cannot tolerate this and stand as a nation.
And so I’ve been feeling numb, and angry, and surprised, and strangely hopeful. Because the sooner we get back to reality, the sooner we can move forward as a people.
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