You guys, these past 100 days have finally caught up to me today with the House vote to repeal Obamacare. I’d thought I’d been managing these past 100 days well enough by avoiding news, making phone calls, donating to my causes, protesting, and staying mildly stoned. But today what was a tenuous peace cracked wide open. But the sight of all those old white men standing on the capitol steps cheering and looking that particular shade of smug that only old, rich, white men have perfected just burst open the delicate dam around my heart. I’ve been sitting here weeping all morning as though a loved one has died, as though I were in mourning. And then I realized I was---I am---in mourning.
I’m mourning over the casual cruelty these men---our elected officials who are supposed to be doing the people’s will---exhibited by the roundly terrible healthcare bill they passed without reading it or even slightly comprehending how they will execute this law in practice. That is, literally, their JOB---to read the bills that will affect their constituencies and vote the way the majority of them want them to vote---and they willfully admit to the media they haven't done their jobs! I’m in mourning for the proud ignorance these men and their supporters display like so much plumage. I’m in mourning for the caliber of people we send to do such important jobs who inevitably get mired down in the legalized bribery that is DC lobbyists and sell us all out for cash from the gun, pharmaceutical, and insurance lobbies.
I’m mourning that these same men hate women so much. They hate women so much that they colluded with a hostile foreign government to keep a woman from reaching the highest office in the land and committed voter fraud in swing states. They made a mockery of our democracy because they fear the concept of inclusion so much, they cling to the patriarchy so tightly, and they fear the loss of control so deeply, that they want to punish us for even DARING to run a female candidate. They hate women so much that their bills and Executive Orders have been a parade of horrors against women and common decency.
I’m in mourning for the eight years I watched the GOP spend all of their energy keeping a black man from governing effectively instead of fighting for a better life for their constituents. After eight years of being forced to recognize that the social mores and exclusionary ways they’ve been trying to push on an increasingly diverse America these past 40 years were counterintuitive to the desires and the demographic of the America they’ve ruled for so long, they chose to respond with the petulance of a child poking an anthill with a stick. And they chose to learn nothing from the cries of their constituencies. After having a front-row seat for their party’s near-disintegration into oblivion, I’m in mourning because they’re using this second chance, this recovery from the brink of irrelevancy, to cause so much pain and suffering to so many of the people whose interests they’re supposedly representing. Rather than taking away valuable lessons from the American populace and its desire to have a government that is more inclusive of its citizens, these puffy, angry, balding, entitled, maleficent, pouting manchildren have decided they’ve played along with this equal rights "charade" long enough, and it’s time to go Full Republican Hypocrite and decide they never really wanted democracy at all. Yes, these bloviating, bilious billionaires who've been touting our Founding Fathers and patriotism for the past umpteen years have, on a dime, turned into despotic assholes since their taste of power was illegitimately restored.
And I’m definitely in mourning for all of hypocrisy spewing forth from these manchildren at a speed that is literally becoming too fast to keep up with. All of these cries about how precious women and children are and how we must be “protected.” To do this, they pass ludicrous and useless bathroom bills one day and gut funding for education the next. They champion their “love” of us by removing our right to sue our employers for sexual harassment. They champion their “respect” for us by making sexual assault, C sections, and domestic violence preexisting conditions to the extent that their ridiculous joke of a healthcare plan basically makes being a woman itself a preexisting condition. Soon we’ll be back to the days where we’ll just need to squat in the fields, push that liability out, and keep on picking dat cotton.
I mourn that politicians have become so shamelessly hypocritical that they can utter “All Lives Matter” or “pro-life” then turn around and gleefully cut off 24 million Americans’ lifeline to healthcare.
I mourn that there are people in this country who voted for the Orange One and who will lose their healthcare under this regime, yet are still cheering for the man and calling the rest of us “libtards” because we weep for what this country has become. I’m in mourning that these people think of themselves as patriots, wrapping their hatred and bigotry in the American flag until it makes the rest of us embarrassed to be American lest we be lumped in with these mouth-breathers.
I’m mourning the death of any illusion I still had that we are a compassionate country. I’m mourning the realization that this country basically boils down to those who have compassion and those who would gladly cut off their neighbor’s access to medical care to save $1.12 on their taxes next year. Some people understand that everyone needs a little help sometimes and sometimes that help can come from the government, and others see only what Fox News throws at them---that we are a nation full of lazy assholes who want to lie on our couches all day eating Funyuns, watching Springer, and living off the government teat while smoking our Kool Menthols.
They, for whatever reason, are unable to see that the majority of us are actually just like them and sometimes we lose our jobs or get cancer or have babies or lose our houses because of diabolical and intentional criminal bank schemes. Sometimes our luck runs out, no matter how hard we work. You think disease cares if you’re a hard worker or an upstanding citizen? The GOP thinks that. Yet, in another outstanding show of hypocrisy, they claim to respect honest, hard-working Americans but have zero sympathy for the person forced to work three minimum-wage jobs to pay the rent.
I mourn that people don’t recognize the ways in which their government helps them every day by giving their kid a school to attend, by giving them fire and police departments, by giving their cities parks and protected lands to enjoy, by making sure their food is safe and their drinking water is clean (well, mostly). I mourn the dim-witted, short-sighted people who watch gleefully as this Administration cuts vital services to its citizens because they have somehow convinced themselves that they got where they are all on their own and so should everyone else, goddammit.
I’m in mourning that some people have such a hyperinflated sense of self that they legitimately think the phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” is a cliche that can be applied to all people in every single situation. I mourn that some of our citizens lack the finesse to distinguish that being born white, middle-class, and American automatically means you’re NOT pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps---that our educational, housing, criminal, law enforcement, and financial institutions have been designed to make sure that some of us start 100 meters further up the track while others, by sheer dint of their birth, must begin at the starting line and watch in frustration as they’ll never catch up to those of us with the 100-meter lead.
I mourn for the people who lack the finesse to understand that while our government was/is full of bureaucracy, corruption, and mass inefficiencies, it’s infinitely preferable to eating contaminated beef, breathing in toxic levels of carbon dioxide, and watching our rivers catch on fire. Their “throw the baby out with the bathwater” approach to government will kill us in the long run.
I mourn for Jordan Edwards. And Philandro Castille. And Trayvon Martin. And Sandra Bland. And all of the senseless police brutality that middle America dismisses as "oh well, I'm sure he/she was a hoodlum and therefore deserved to die without a trial or jury." I mourn for the people who don’t understand why “All Lives Matter” is offensive because they’ve lived a life free of an entire society judging them by the color of their skin and so they don’t understand why “black people can’t just get over it.” I mourn for the people who hear the phrase “white privilege” and lack the ability to learn something instead of becoming defensive and assume you’re calling them a racist.
I mourn the whole swaths of this country who lost their shit when we elected a black man to the White House and tried to make him out to be a terrible incompetent rather than admit they just didn’t like a Negro in the ultimate big house.
I mourn that the response to that was electing a man who is virulently racist, misogynistic, and homophobic in the thought that it would actually “Make America Great Again” instead of automatically disenfranchising the majority of us. I mourn that they lacked the critical thinking skills to see through his meaningless, pandering rhetoric and realize he is terrible for us in every way, that he is simply using this presidency to make himself, his family, and his cronies even richer and that he makes a mockery of the office by doing so. I mourn the fact that we have to suffer a classless oaf whose reading skills are suspect and who gets his intel briefings from Fox’s morning show.
I mourn our loss of credibility in the world, that we went from having a dignified, compassionate man representing us instead of a 10-year-old with a trust fund, a huge grudge, and possibly dementia. Not that would excuse his unconscionable behavior these past several months. I mourn the fact that my political party lacks the balls to remove him from office.
I mourn that 61 million (though, likely substantially fewer now that we’re 100 days in) looked at a sexual predator and accused child molester with zero political experience and said YUP! THERE’S MY GUY! I WANT HIM TO REPRESENT ME!
I mourn the fact that everything we learned in school about America, everything I’ve thought to be true about our democracy, could come so quickly unravelled by one psychotic man with a malevolent Congress behind him. Who didn’t learn in school that our democracy was THE BEST, that our government was envied and admired by the world? Not anymore. It took a single election cycle to disabuse us and the world of that 250-year-old notion. You think we’ll be a superpower forever? Look at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire...dynasties that lasted hundreds of years and toppled like dominos until they were no longer relevant on the world stage. Make no mistake, our fall will be just as swift, if not swifter. I mourn for the people who will respond to that with “thanks Obama” because they’re still clinging to the notion that a corrupt, bankrupt billionaire knew how to run a country.
I’m in mourning that we are no longer a nation of thinkers, that we get our worldviews from easily digestible, bite-sized pieces that are algorithm’d out the wazoo to make sure we never see anything that clashes with our preconceived notions of how the world works. And that we’ve become a nation that won’t seek out conflicting viewpoints or secondary sources because we’re just so damn busy these days looking at our phones and who has time to research actual facts when there’s Candy Crush to be played?
I’m in mourning for a media that long ago forgot how to do their jobs well and what their role is in society---to investigate and expose rather than be a paid advertisement for whatever rich, old, white guy owns their conglomerate. We are suffering because of it. Investigative journalism has been a huge force in this country for good; those days are over though.
I mourn that our government looks at corporations as more deserving of rights and protections than its people. I mourn our filthy campaign and election process, which has become so polluted that it would be unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers. I mourn Citizens United that has sped up this process at an alarming rate.
I mourn that our country cares more about Starbucks’ unicorn frappucino than it does about the millions of people, many of them children, who are fleeing Syria. I mourn that most Americans lack empathy, and when they look at the picture below, all they can think about is the one in hundreds of millions of a chance that if we let him into our country, he’ll grow up to be a terrorist. I mourn that our elected officials don’t have the common sense to realize that we’re literally thousands of times more likely to die without proper health care than we are to be killed by an Islamic extremist (it's 1 in 3.6 billion). Or maybe they do understand, and they just don’t give a fuck anymore.
I mourn that no one really gives a fuck anymore. Our government shoves its dick up our assholes, dry, all while having a smile on its face. Our institutions teem with hypocrisy and us-against-you mentality and don’t even bother to apologize for failing to serve their purposes anymore. Our corporations have gone from “how can I serve you today?” to “you’ll take what we give you and like it.” I mourn as I watch our faith in government, institutions, and companies slip away. Your government doesn’t give a fuck about you. Your institutions will not save you (just ask Flint). And your corporations are getting all the tax breaks you’re not, stashing it in offshore accounts, and giggling as a certain segment of society still buys the welfare-mom-as-moocher rhetoric started by Reagan and his cronies so long ago.
I mourn for our planet, which is now dying faster than even the climate nerds predicted, while the GOP insists on politicizing the issue, as though it were no more serious than tax cuts, all while we watch our skies, waters, and lands become more and more toxic. The smartest man on this planet just announced earth has about 100 more years left. I mourn that people like Trump and Tillerson read that and STILL think “Who cares? I’ll be dead by then, so I’ll pass this law that ramps up coal production and pipeline construction so that I can add another billion to my already overflowing coffers before I die.” I mourn that that level of greed even exists in humanity.
I mourn for the wolves and the bear cubs in Alaska who can be shot while hibernating now. I mourn for Native Americans at Standing Rock, who still had passion and concern for this planet and were squashed by nefarious means, like so many cockroaches. I mourn for the people of Flint who are resisting by refusing to pay their water bills and are now being threatened with foreclosure as a result. Your city decides to poison you then takes away your house if you refuse to accept the shit they fling at you.
Call me a snowflake if you insist. I don’t mind that term. It implies that I have empathy and compassion for the humans on this planet, no matter what side of a ridiculous wall they live on. It implies that I understand that we are rapidly headed in the wrong direction and that what has worked geopolitically for the past 500 years is no longer effective. It implies that I refuse to be on the wrong side of history. I mourn that I feel so much rage toward the people who will, ultimately, be on the wrong side of history, for they are friends, aunts, cousins, and stepparents. I mourn that these people who claim to love me and my wife can turn around and cheer for a government so contemptuous of us.
I mourn for all of the brokenness---brokenness of this planet, brokenness of the people, brokenness of our failed systems, brokenness of our government and our corporations, brokenness of our spirits, the brokenness of our wills, the brokenness of the way we communicate as a species.
I mourn openly and loudly for I do not care who hears or sees my pain. It means I still have love for my country and my fellow citizens of this earth. My pain is a testament that I still have a humane, love-thumping heart that pounds for a desire to see us be our best selves. We are falling desperately short of that these days.
And I mourn for that too.