Forgive me if this rambles - I haven't slept. I couldn't. The knot in my gut over what just happened to my country, to my belief in what I always thought of as my country, wouldn't go away. So I figured I'd try writing them out.
Eleven years ago, when what I thought was a routine gut bug suddenly turned into a (mis)diagnosis of malignancy and I was staring down major emergency surgery without a job or insurance, I was told by everyone from the surgeon down to the desk assistant that I'd qualify for assistance. The government had safety nets for just this reason. I'd never been on welfare, never asked for a handout, never asked for anything from them before, but boy did I need them then. I went over the forms as carefully as possible. I even called them up to be sure I was doing it right - I wasn't asking for perpetual disability, just a little help to get me through this alive so I could become a tax-generating employable citizen again.
And I was denied.
Now, of course, I didn't die. (I did realize that I never wanted to work around medicine again, and I never returned to that lousy walk-in clinic, but that's beside the point.) By what I still regard as sheer luck of the draw, I'd managed to be in the hospital's charity program, so neither I nor my family wound up homeless due to expenses. But I've never forgotten that feeling. Sick, scared, helpless, and - despite numerous assurances - being told essentially that I was worthless, I was expendable, I wasn't worth the temporary investment it would take for me to recover. My government would just have happily seen me die. I didn't matter. I wasn't worthwhile.
I haven't felt that way again until last night, when the country ran red.
I suppose it's my fault for being so naive. Oh, I knew there was injustice and prejudice and hate and corruption, but it wasn't the majority. All my life, I've thought America was the land of the free and the home of the brave, a place where justice eventually came through, a place where lies couldn't last forever, a place moving forward, a place to be proud of.
Now I'm facing an America that is none of those things.
More than half of the states watched a major political party carry out unprecedented, likely even illegal obstruction of a legally-elected president. They watched as hypocrite after hypocrite abandoned their purported beliefs and consciences and convictions to fall into line behind the single worst candidate ever to run for major office, a man who couldn't even make money in the casino industry. They watched unprecedented, 24/7 coverage of that man as he openly mocked the disabled, encouraged racism, endorsed sexism, expressed incestuous fantasies, contradicted himself on innumerable occasions, blustered and bellowed and leered and otherwise unquestionably demonstrated a personality and grasp of issues (or lack thereof) that made the thought of that man as the head of a donut cart, let alone the nation, utterly abhorrent. They saw that the next president would be in a position of tremendous power to influence the Supreme Court. They saw (or should have seen) a world in which a third world war was becoming ever more possible, if not yet (I naively hope) inevitable, where a strong and intelligent commander in chief would be absolutely vital to national survival.
And they still voted for not just him, but for his party. They saw all that... and wanted more.
This is the America they want. An America where faith trumps facts, where science is meaningless, where the environment is expendable, where basic human rights depend on one's origins, accent, skin color, and gender, where tolerance is passe, where money rules, where rape culture is openly endorsed, where we accept constant fear in lieu of freedom, where the clock rolls back fifty-odd years to a Golden Age that never existed save in a television script, where "alt-right" policies stand a terrifyingly real chance of becoming the law of the land, where the Statue of Liberty and her promise to the tired and poor and huddled masses might as well be sold for scrap metal for all the people of this country care. A land of the fearful, home of the cowards.
David Bowie, Prince, now Lady Liberty... what else will 2016 steal?