Please, America, I know you are not well, but open your eyes just a little and listen to me. I know you were too weak to fend off Trumpicitis a year ago, and that it left you too weak in the aftermath to do much except marvel at your own ensuing insanity. I know your doctors have been trying some untested experimental treatments on you — the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, probiotics, that sort of thing — without any success. But dammit, sit up and listen to me, and stop mumbling “Do not resuscitate.”
You used to be “the last, best hope of earth,” for a lot of good reasons. I can remember when you still were, although you started to lose it in the 1960s. It was understandable; you lost three of history’s finest public figures to assassination in just a few years, and you became ensnared in Vietnam. But it was in the 1980s that you became really sick. That’s when the awful, metastasizing cancer of greed overwhelmed your defenses and began turning you into a pathetic shadow of your former self.
The genial dunce who played President of the U.S. for most of that decade oversaw a stupefaction of the American electorate from which you have never recovered, America, and maybe never will. It had lots of moving parts: trickle-down economics, the criminalization of poverty, the marshaling of government power to defend the rich, the crapification of political campaigns with oppo research and creative advertising (by which I mean lies, backed up by big budgets and high production values).
No wonder you haven’t felt really good since 1959. Back then your diet was mostly truth and vegetables, now you are forced to subsist on a toxic soup of daily lies. Back then your people faced the future with confidence and hope, based as much as anything on their confidence in each other, now they live in warring camps watching their own prospects and those of their children turning sour in front of them, responding to their growing fear with hate.
Stop trying to go back to sleep and follow the light. You’re needed here. Urgent voices are calling you back, back to your life and your purpose, back to the struggle for justice and security. People like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, reminding all of us of the things we used to care about, the country you used to be. Reminding us how much we would like to live there again.
We know it might not be possible. We know you might just give up and die. But some of us would like to get in a lick or two before that happens:
You and I are old.
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done
Not unbecoming men that strove with gods.
–Ulysses, Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Your people are voting in Alabama next week, and they could choose an invigorating path toward a somewhat better time, or they could plunge us all further into the rising dark of this age. Help them remove Roy Moore from your body politic like the malignant cyst he is (not just for his sexual depravity, for his entire moral depravity). Let us help the good people of Alabama, the non-racist, non-stupid, non-Pit-Bull majority, to forge a small victory, in the name of the country you used to be, and see if we can take a few steps back toward the way it was.
Sit up, dammit, and fog this mirror. I need to know you’re still alive, and that you’re gonna try.