I've been broken before. I know what it feels like. This ain't it.
I remember how I felt in the aftermath of the 2004 election. At that time, I was defeated, despairing, and despondent. It was the worst possible result that I could imagine at the time, and I was ready to give up on hope, on democracy, and on America itself. I couldn't even bear to look at the American flag because, as I remember telling my parents at the time, "it doesn't stand for anything that I believe in anymore."
The results of this election are so much worse than 2004. Infinitely worse. And yet, I haven't sunk into the same depths of despair. On the contrary, all my latent patriotism has set a fire of hope in my soul--a raging, passionate, avenging fire that bears me up as on phoenix's wings.
I am not ready--I am not willing--to give up on America, because I have seen what America can be.
America can be a country that makes provision for the healthcare costs of its citizens. After decades of talking about healthcare reform, we've finally accomplished it. And now they want to undo it. Maybe they will succeed. On the other hand, in the words of Alexander Hamilton,[*](I've been reading the biography on which the musical is based.) "Though obstacles and delays will frequently stand in the way of the adoption of good measures, yet when once adopted, they are likely to be stable and permanent. It will be far more difficult to undo than to do."[*](Italics in original.)
Not only has the Matthew Shepard anti-hate crime law been passed, but same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. That was unimaginable in 2004. I didn't expect that I would ever see it in my lifetime. And yet here we are, twelve years later, and the impossible dream of marriage equality has become reality.
I can't give up on America. We have come too far to throw it all away now.
I must emphasize that this is not optimism. Optimism is a confident belief that everything will turn out right no matter what. Currently, we are engaged in a battle for our nation's very soul.[*](To paraphrase Hamilton lyrics, which I will be doing a lot in the foreseeable future.) The stakes could not be higher. The danger to our country--to our very existence--cannot be overstated. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has our future been so uncertain.
But because the future is uncertain, that means that nothing is a foregone conclusion. Our success--our survival--is by no means guaranteed, but by the same token, neither is our destruction.
As for me, I've invested too much in this country to give it up without a fight.