A sense of hope. A trust in the relative intelligence of the electorate. The feeling that good, old-fashioned common sense always wins over religious extremism; transparent political cronyism; and a curiously proud legacy of policies that have undermined our economy, our environment, our social fabric and the respect we command in the world.
Something else died as well. Something even more important to me: A lifetime of unblinking patriotism.
Today I feel sucker-punched. Betrayed. Terrified.
By religious extremists who manufacture a threat to marriage where none exists and use it to inflame the passions of weak-minded voters and hijack an election.
By citizens who vote against their own economic self-interest to elect a man brazenly beholden to the wealthy few over the non-wealthy majority.
By a president who describes himself as a “uniter” but who presided over one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.
By a man who wouldn’t go to war with his contemporaries but who doesn’t hesitate to play war when he grows up to be president.
By a future securely in the hands irrational, venomous social conservatives and a horizon filled with Supreme Court turnover and long-overdue human-rights legislation.
I hung an American flag in my window the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It was a big flag, almost six feet tall. It filled the entire window. And since I live on the 24th floor, you could see my flag from almost anywhere in the neighborhood. I looked up at it every time I walked home from the grocery store or stood on the train platform four blocks away. I pointed it out to friends and family members. I was a proud American, and a hopeful believer in the inherent goodness of our country and the people who ran it.
I took my flag down this morning. And, as I write this, it lies in an unpatriotic, potentially unconstitutional crumple on my floor.
Right now I want to burn it.