Many in this country are perplexed, if not outright frantic, about the tenuous precipice from which we now dangle: the fingertips of our democracy are barely clutching the bedrock of our Constitution.
I remember the night my election grief hit rock bottom. Thursday, November 10, 2016. I had spent the previous two days in stunned shock. That night, I think I drank half a bottle of scotch and smoked at least half an ounce of weed. When my husband awoke at 4:30 to begin his two-hour morning meditation, he found me curled in a ball on the living room rug, sobbing. The air was grey and pungent. He was laughing while trying to comfort inconsolable me. But thanks to him, I made it to bed and when I finally awoke on Friday, I booked a ticket for DC. Some kind of protest was being planned for the Saturday after the inauguration; I knew because I was a member of every closed Surly/Pantsuit group on Facebook.
You can read about that experience in my Angry Snowflakes post. You’ve seen pictures of this largest single-day protest in American history. In the Fall of 2009, when newly-elected President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I thought it was unmerited. I was a huge Obama supporter, but this felt like Obama being lauded for not being George Bush. However, it also made me feel like a “citizen of the world,” a reminder that what America does has implications for all. In the same vein, the worldwide participation in the January 21, 2017 day of protest felt unifying.
Today, as no insult or scandal seems to penetrate or persuade the hearts and minds of his true believers, I wonder about America’s diminishing influence on the world stage. Let’s agree (or agree to disagree) with my premise: America has lost respect, clout, and influence by every measure. We’re weaker in trade. Our economy is falsely inflated and potentially set for a dizzy spiral down, abetted by our immature and punitive rhetoric and accompanying tariffs. We have no moral stance to speak on human rights. We are actively working to suppress the free press, the freedom to peacefully assemble, and the opportunity for others to come here to build a better life.
Is there any room left for an American export of influence?
I argue there is only one: Art.
America still leads in taste-making and trend-influencing. I hope – I pray – all the artists working in America, in public or in the dark of night, will redouble their efforts. Keep creating. Make art out of this heartache and insanity. It’s our lifeline to the future, a future where America is an equal partner but not a bully, an America where we care more about the welfare of our neighbor than said neighbor’s political affiliation. An America as described and prescribed by our Constitution.