It Falls Upon Us

That America is in a terrible place right now is without question. At no point in our recent history has there been so much upheaval, uncertainty, and fear. Our world has been turned upside down and inside out after one of the most tumultuous years in our nation’s history.

More Americans have died in the past year than in any year ever. In the past eleven months 400,000 Americans have perished from a pandemic that has burned through our country with the fury and indiscriminate cruelty of an untamed wildfire. Families have had to say goodbye without being able to say goodbye, having been forced to stay apart when wanting nothing more than to be able come together.

The pandemic has not just taken lives, but it has stripped millions of Americans of their livelihoods. Covid has forced states to make tough choices about what to keep open and what to close. It has forced children to stay home, stolen our social lives, and sent more Americans than ever to food banks, seeking sustenance that many had never sought before.

The pandemic, though horrible by any measure, is not without an end in sight however. Vaccines have been developed, are being distributed, and will eventually bring an end to one our nation’s saddest hours. Unfortunately covid is not the only thing that ails our nation, nor is it the most challenging issue we face today.

Our people are not just dying but we are a nation divided as never before. The last four years has strained the ties that bind us together, made us question our commitment to one another, and ushered in an era of discord and distrust as never before seen in the United States.

A contested election has laid bare our very real divisions. Our standing in the world is diminished as the usually peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next has been anything but peaceful. The storming of our Capitol by domestic terrorists seeking to overturn the results of an election has scared our allies, emboldened our enemies, called into doubt the sanctity of our elections, and made us suspicious of our neighbors.

At no other time in recent history has the very future of our nation been in so much doubt, nor the durability of our democracy so openly questioned. The world is watching to see whether after 244 years the expanse of our divisions is greater than our will to bridge them.

It is moments like these where we are all called upon to look deep within ourselves to summon our better angels and reaffirm our commitment to not turn back nor falter in defense of our Union and not fall prey to the weight of what divides us today. In order to do so, we must confront our differences head on, combat ignorance where it exists, and commit to better understanding each other and the world in which we live. The task now falls upon us, as it has generations past, to secure this Union and deliver to future generations those great gifts of democracy, freedom, equality, and justice that were granted to this generation with grace, humility, and hope by our ancestors.

At this time we may not understand each other, but we can affirm that we would like to know one another better. We can choose a new, better, and more united way forward than the divided path already traversed. We do not have to sacrifice the things we believe in to better understand people we do not agree with. We can and always will hold differing opinions, but that does not mean our conversations must always be disagreeable, or that we cannot respect the differing opinions of others.

What has been, does not have to be. We are no more bound by our past than set free by our future. We can, if we open our minds and our hearts, find a part of ourselves in our shared experience as Americans. We can find common interests that bring us together instead of divisive words that tear us apart.

We can choose to reach out to those who have fallen and give them a hand up. We can make those marginalized feel as if they have a place in this country as well. There is plenty room enough for all of us in this country to have a place that we can not just call home, but feel at home in. We can look past what separates us as individuals and find what unites us as Americans.

We must do this in order to remain true to our origins. For our founders, faced with unfathomable odds against their fortunes, drew upon their shared grievances and set aside their differences, found strength in the cause of something larger than themselves, pledged not just their lives, but their sacred honor and fortunes, so that we might enjoy the freedoms we do today. With little more than hope and virtue, they committed themselves to a task that seemed impossible. Yet in their unity they found strength, in their strength they found courage, and in their courage the will to face down tyranny and defeat England.

Today we are faced with a decision of what kind of country we are and what kind of a country we want to be. We are confronted with the uncomfortable reality that we have hard work left to do if we are to pass on to future generations a better country than the one we inherited. We all must be a part of the solution.

It falls upon us to decide if we will be true to our founding principles of liberty, justice, equality, fairness, inclusiveness, and community or will we allow ourselves to be divided further? Will we find the courage to not just look in the mirror and see what is wrong, but also compassion to look at others and see what is right? Can we find the self-control to recoil from our propensity to divide ourselves over things immaterial to who we are and find ground that is common with people who are foreign? Can we live up to the examples set by generation after generation of Americans across the ages who sat aside their differences and came together in the name of making this country as close to the perfect union as they could?

These are the questions we must now answer as we look at ourselves and the country in which we live. A better future is not guaranteed but it is attainable if we apply ourselves to the cause at hand and commit our full measure of devotion to bridging our divides. If we commit ourselves to a world in which we all choose to seek understanding when we do not know, common ground when we are apart, and unity over division then we will succeed in passing forth those great gifts of liberty, equality, and justice that have been given to us.

This we can do.

This we must do.

This we will do.

The America that I Feared

Donald Trump being elected President of the United States in 2016 came as a complete shock to me as it did to many people across America. It was a harsh, cold slap of reality across the face after what I felt were a pretty good eight years. We had emerged from a terrible recession, the economy had been expanding for the longest stretch of time in modern history, and more people were insured than at any other time in this nation’s history – and still a man had just been elected who talked about blowing up the whole thing.

I just didn’t get it.

I had hoped that with a strong enough resistance from elected Democrats and from American citizens across this country that we might be able to minimize the damage of a Trump presidency, that we might be able to resist his worse impulses and protect our democracy. At the time, I believed that it was this hope that carried me, along with that of a million other activated citizens, to Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March in January 2017. In retrospect, if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure that it was just hope that carried us there.

I think a lot of us who marched that day had something more of a mixture of yes hope, but also some lingering, almost indescribable fear as well. We had just witnessed an egomaniacal narcissistic man who showed little regard for the norms, traditions, and history of this country, and even less interest in trying to bridge the gaps that divided us, elected to be the most powerful man in the world. A man who showed a blatant disrespect for anyone who he did not agree with and a willingness to win at any cost, even if that cost were truth or decency.

In the four years that followed many of us who marched that day witnessed most of our worst fears realized. I could go through all the outrages: the Muslim ban, the separation and orphaning of children at the border, Charlottesville, Shithole countries, and so forth. Yet my time to do so is limited, and my patience to dedicate anymore outrage at the past four years is minimal. I am quite simply too exhausted to rehash the seemingly endless barrage of outrages we were forced to endure and so I will focus on the one that I believe is the most damaging, hardest to fix, and most enduring legacy of the Trump presidency, which is his assault on truth.

The assault started the day after his inauguration when he made Sean Spicer, his Press Secretary, lie to the American people about the size of his inaugural crowd. It was such a childish thing to care about and something that was indisputably, demonstrably false. Yet it gave us a window into not just his narcissism but also his willingness to bend the truth to fit a narrative he desired. The next day, one his advisors named Kellyanne Conway went on national television to perpetuate the lie and suggested that their judgment of the crowd size was the result of “alternative facts,” which was honestly a laughable expression. Her remarks were rightly called out by the media. Obviously, there is no such thing as alternative facts. Facts are facts, if something is true, it’s true, if it’s not, it’s not. An alternative fact is quite simply a lie.

What I don’t think anyone quite realized at the time however was how willing President Trump, his administration, and his enablers, would be to rely on alternative facts to create an alternate reality for his supporters to believe in. Furthermore, I think the amount of people who realized how dangerous such a loose association to facts and reality could be, or how corrosive it would be to democracy, were even fewer. I think a lot of us just said, “Alternative facts? Okay, whatever”, laughed at how dumb the suggestion was, and moved on with our lives.

Since that day four years ago however, truth has, for the most part, fallen prey to alternative facts, especially for a large segment of Americans who rise and fall on every word Trump speaks or tweets. The absolute barrage of dishonesty, over 30,000 statements by the President alone that were either deemed to be completely or at least partially false by the Washington Post, have been tweeted, spoken, repeated, and disseminated countless times across our society. This assault on facts and truth has been brazen, relentless, and continuously more damaging in its scope and effects.

The lies started small and rather inconsequential, such as that about the inaugural crowd, and continued to grow ever larger and more damaging as time went on. The President seemingly testing the bounds of truth and perpetually stretching it further and further each time his faithful bought into each successive lie. Each lie was a conditioner for the next lie. Each lie building upon the last. Each lie successively bigger, told and repeated even more relentlessly than the last so that if he needed to tell a bigger lie his followers would be ready to believe it.

Trump’s assault on truth was aided by a progressively more splintered media universe in which certain media companies were less committed to the truth than to profits. These companies were willing to dispense with facts in order to cater to the specific tastes of its consumers who sadly showed a startling propensity to desire only information that reinforced what they already believed to be true. Having bought into Trump’s initial small lies, his followers became increasingly indoctrinated to Trump’s version of reality and less susceptible to alternative facts, which were in reality the truth that Donald said was a lie.

This process of indoctrination and eventual radicalization was accelerated exponentially by social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter who created algorithms that almost ensured users would only be exposed to people and pages they already agreed with, while seemingly not taking into account at all how dangerous and damaging misinformation could be.

In this hyper-segregated media and social media environment truth itself became a casualty of the Trump administration for many Trump enthusiasts. Journalists were dismissed as enemies of the people and purveyors of “fake news”. For many, truth became confused with the lie, facts replaced by beliefs, data dispersed for feelings, and reality fell prey to fantasy.

Donald Trump preyed upon our worst fears, exploited our insecurities, exacerbated our differences, and divided this nation in pursuit of his own interests. The gradual but consistently accelerating impact of these accumulating lies created a country that became more and more divided over the last four years. A populace unwilling, and often times, unable to come to agreement on even the most basic and readily apparent of facts drifted further and further apart.

We couldn’t agree on racism. We couldn’t agree on science. We couldn’t agree on wearing masks. We couldn’t agree on social distancing. We couldn’t even agree on how many people were actually dying from the pandemic, a number that will reach 400,000 by Inauguration Day. Generally accepted norms of decency, decorum, and democracy were demolished by a demagogue who weaponized lies willingly for his own perceived benefit.

So it was no surprise that when Trump lost one of the most free, fair, and secure elections in the history of United States he decided to weaponize one last massive lie in order to try to somehow overturn the results, while failing to realize that eventually the democratic guardrails that he pushed and pushed against throughout his presidency would finally push back. He brazenly claimed, against all evidence to the contrary, that the election had been stolen from him. When all of his legal efforts came up short, and it seemed that he had finally run out of options, he told one last lie to his true believers that they could force Congress to overturn the results of the election.

What ensued, the storming of the Capitol and attempted overthrow of Congress by a mass of domestic terrorists that President Trump whipped into a frenzy in front of the White House, is one of the saddest days in our nation’s history. It is a day that will surely live infamy along with Pearl Harbor. While the loss of life that occurred on January 6, 2021 can in no way compare to that lost on December 7, 1941, what was lost is something that the attack on Pearl Harbor gave us: a sense of common purpose. A belief that we were all in this together, that if we had enemies, that they lay beyond our borders and not in our own neighborhoods.

However divisive the past four years had been, I believed however naively, that after some time had passed that we would come back together as Americans and choose to see past our differences and work together to move this country forward. After the events of last week I am not sure of that fact today.

The cumulative impact of Donald Trump’s assault on truth in this country came crashing down upon our most sacred house of democracy in the form of a violent mob who had been lied to and made to believe things that were simply not true. Lies told by a man who cared more about his own interests than the country he was elected to serve. The America I live in today looks a lot less like the one whose capital city I marched in four years ago.

There will be no jubilant crowds at the inauguration this year, nor protestors who would have otherwise been there as well to express their First Amendment rights to peacefully gather and protest. A “peaceful transition of power” will take place on the steps of a Capitol recently besieged by domestic terrorists overlooking streets not filled with citizens celebrating the renewal of their democracy, but by troops standing as the last line of defense between our democracy and further democratic decay.

The light of that City Upon a Hill, the most enduring the world’s democracies, seems to shine a little less bright today than it did even a couple weeks ago. Days seem shorter, the skies grayer, the colors on our flag no longer look as crisp as it swirls in the winds of change as they once did. Countries that we once lectured about democracy are now laughing at us and telling us to get our own house in order.

Our people are dying, our allies are scared, our neighbors suspicious.

This is the true cost of the Trump administration.

This is what happens when a narcissistic demagogue endears himself to people whose interest he only cares for in so much that they serve his own. A man who lies in service of no one except himself.

This is the cost of truth diminished.

I still have hope, however dim its light may be. The insurrectionists failed. Congress completed their Constitutional duties. Donald Trump was impeached, again. Joe Biden will be President of the United States on January 20th. Kamala Harris will become Vice-President that day as well.

Maybe my fears about the seemingly unbridgeable divides that the last four years have created are unfounded. Maybe we’re not as divided as Trump wishes us to be. Maybe this will all be a blip, an anomaly in the long history of our nation. Maybe it will be another time that we look back upon from the future and say “You know what? We were tested and we passed the test.”

Maybe, just maybe everything will be okay.

Maybe that nagging fear I had on that day we marched four years ago, that has only grown in intensity over the past four years is, after all, unfounded.

Maybe the weight of all the lies will come crashing down and truth will prevail and begin to heal this nation.

But then again, maybe your neighbor is a terrorist.

This, is the America that I feared.

I’m Still Pissed

It’s been six days since insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in an attempt to over throw the free will of the American people and I’m still pissed. Every time I feel my anger start to subside about what happened, even just a little, I see or read about another attempt by the President’s enablers to explain away or somehow normalize the actions of these traitorous domestic terrorists, and all of my anger comes rushing back. Even worse, now I’m hearing Republican politicians suggest that it’s time to move on in the name of unity.


After you spent the last 2 months complicit and enabling the President in his grand scheme to overturn an election he lost and dividing the country to a breaking point, even going so far as to NOT vote for certification AFTER the siege in the Capitol?

Fuck that.

Move on?

After our Capitol was overrun by terrorists carrying Confederate flags, spewing hate, threatening to kidnap and kill our elected leaders, and assaulting and killing Capitol Hill police officers?

Fuck that too.

I want answers.

I want accountability.

I want contrition.

I want justice.

I want to know not just how something like this could happen, but who was responsible for the massive security failure that occurred last Wednesday. I also want justice, swift and severe enough that it dissuades anyone considering attempting to do anything of this sort to not do so ever again.

I keep seeing people trying to justify the actions of these terrorists by saying something to effect of – well these people feel like their president was cheated out of an election win and therefore their actions, while despicable, are understandable because they feel like they’re defending our democracy and country.


No they’re not.

They’re not defending shit except their president and his lies.

There is nothing understandable or excusable about what they did.

Here’s the thing: Even if these terrorists felt and somehow believed that their unjustifiable actions were justified, simply feeling something is just does not mean it is just nor does it justify their actions. We are, as humans in a sophisticated society, inherently responsible for the choices we make and, should be, willing to accept that there are rewards and consequences of those choices.

Furthermore, these apologists who have been trying to dismiss the culpability of these terrorists by saying – well they didn’t know any better because they’ve been told repeatedly by the President that the election was stolen – only further delegitimize themselves. Even if these seditionists were lied to it does not excuse them of their ignorance, nor diminish how deplorable their actions were even if they truly believed that the election was stolen.

Here’s why: In the 21st century, with the entire world of information at your fingertips, ignorance is not an excuse for misunderstanding or believing untrue things. Instead, ignorance is a conscious choice and the result of failing to make an effort to find out the truth.

Any of those insurrectionists could have easily done some research and found that their basis for rioting, that the election was stolen, was nothing more than a lie fabricated by a delusional president incapable of accepting the reality that he lost, who then weaponized his derangement to foment those forces that carried those terrorists to the Capitol. Yet their incitement, and very presence in DC that day, is a result of their own ignorance and failure to seek out the truth about the election.

Even if justified in their actions, which they were surely not, their ignorant choice to desecrate the very heart of our American democracy in order to overthrow a free and fair election by violent coup absolves them of any innocence and lays bare the lie that their actions were in defense of the Constitution or democracy or America.

Lastly, any Republicans who suggest that it is already time to move on and say that impeachment will only further divide the country clearly fails to understand the gravity of what happened and should be considered among the most craven and unworthy of serving in public office.


A storm of anarchists attacked the citadel of our democracy.

They attempted to overthrow the results of the election.

They threatened to kidnap and kill our elected officials.

They damaged, defaced, and desecrated our Capitol.

They assaulted countless federal law enforcement officials and even took the life of a Capitol Hill police officer.

They did all of this in the name of, and with the implicit, if not explicit, approval of President Trump who incited their most primal of misgivings, electrified their sense of victimhood, and encouraged them to take back their country.

Yet now we’re told it’s time to move on?

Now we’re told it’s time to unite?

Fuck that.

It is the richest form of hypocrisy that so many of those who are now telling us it’s time to move on are the very same people who should ultimately share the burden of responsibility for the attack on the Capitol due to their willingness to support and perpetuate Trump’s lies. They, who now tell us we need unity, did everything they could to divide this country with their craven actions and unyielding commitment to, not the oath they swore to the country they serve, but to the singular man who has done more to damage American democracy as the President of the United States than any foreign state or adversary could ever hope to.

Move on?

Fuck that.

There is no moving on until there is justice, until the President and each and everyone of his enablers are held accountable, and all of those who committed the most vicious action of insurrection this country has seen in over a century are brought to justice.

Then, and only then, will we be ready to move on.

Until then, I’m just pissed.

There is no Equivalency

Five days have passed since insurrectionists attacked the Capitol of the United States in an effort to stage a coup and reverse the results of one of the most secure, free, and fair elections in the history of this country. The seditionists failed attempt to overthrow our government was inspired by lies and misinformation about the legitimacy of last year’s presidential election and incited by inflammatory words that President Trump spoke at a rally immediately before the siege on the Capitol.

In the days since the attack a concerted effort has emerged from Right-wing media and elected representatives, who were complicit in the lie that inspired many of the rioters to attack the Capitol, to defend and somehow justify the rioters actions. In their attempts at justification, the Right has tried to equate the seditious actions of those rioters who attacked the heart of American democracy with the Black Lives Matter protestors who took to the streets of America demanding racial justice.

Let me be clear: there is no equivalency between the two.

There is simply no way to equate the mob of privileged, primarily white, anarchic agitators incited by the President and driven by some false illusion of victimhood storming the Capitol of the United States by force and the overwhelmingly peaceful protests of a diverse cross-section of Americans who marched in the name of racial justice. The former, fighting to overturn the free will of the American people through the most undemocratic of means in defense of an indefensible man whose bruised ego couldn’t accept the reality that he lost, and the latter, marching and protesting for their LITERAL LIVES.

There is no equivalency.

None whatsoever.

Don’t be gaslighted.

Do not let anyone tell you anything different.

Anyone who attempts to equate the two, who tries to dismiss the actions of those who desecrated our most sacred house of democracy in the most clear act of insurrection and sedition this country has seen in over a century as anything less than the unlawful actions for what they were – are quite simply ignorant, on the wrong side of history, and in denial of reality.

Those who stormed the Capitol Wednesday did so in defense of a singular man, not democracy, not our lives, not our rights, and damn sure not the United State of America. They carried out this insurrection to show their full measure of fealty to a narcissistic man who has never valued them as anything more than pawns in pursuit of his own interests. While they were literally willing to die, as some did, for their chosen leader, he showed no such deference for them, even going so far as to insult them for looking “low class” while carrying out a domestic terrorist attack against the United States of America in his name.

What a sad day it is in America when not only do we see the Capitol overrun by terrorists incited by the President of the United States, but then see people attempt to equate their actions as somehow equivalent to those of Black Lives Matter protestors who were literally marching – and not to mention arrested, beat, gassed, degraded, demonized, and killed – for their lives. True patriots who have every right to feel legitimately aggrieved that were protesting so that this country, that has never shown the same love to those protesting as they have for it, might finally live up to the values upon which it was founded.

What a sad day in America.

I’m still heartbroken and outraged.

Four days later, I am still heartbroken for America, and while my tears of rage have dried I am no less angry with what happened to a place I once knew well.

Thirteen years ago I served as an intern in Senator Carl Levin’s DC offices. It was the honor of my life to spend a summer working, unpaid, for the people of the United States of America at the very heart of American democracy. I answered phones. I responded to constituent mail. I assisted in writing floor statements. I helped do legislative research. I attended hearings. I did whatever Senator Levin’s staff asked me to do, and I did it with great joy, pride in my heart, and the highest amount of reverence for the institution I worked in.

The last thing I was responsible for was giving tours of the Capitol for constituents who were visiting from Michigan. Every tour I gave felt like I was walking in a dream. Every step I took, every word I spoke about the hallowed halls in which I walked, every breath I breathed – all of it – filled me with such pride for having the noble honor to share this sacred house of American democracy with citizens who came to see where our nation’s legislators wrote the laws that bind this nation, a nation of laws – of, by, and for the people.

Needless to say, as I watched anarchists storm the Capitol, climb its edifice, and smash its windows – I was heartbroken.

Anyone that truly loves America, who values our democracy, who believes in the promise and the ideals that America was founded upon – life, liberty, equality, justice – anyone who believes in those things, who wants to pass along these sacred blessings of democracy to your children and to future generations – you should be heartbroken and outraged today as well.

Four days have now passed and the President still has not acknowledged or apologized for the roll he played in this insurrection nor even ordered that the flag that flies above the White House be lowered in honor of the Capitol Hill police officer who died in its defense.

Think about that for a second.

Think about that and tell me how, as an American, you cannot be outraged.

Maybe your pain and anger is not as acute as mine not having had the opportunity to walk those halls as regularly as I once did –  the very same halls that these anarchists degraded with their very presence and destructed with their maniacal actions on Wednesday – but you should be upset and outraged as well because this is your country and that is your Capitol too.

There is a place for protest that is peaceful and protected by our Constitution and debate that is civil and an essential part of democracy, but what happened on a day that will live until eternity in infamy is anything but peaceful or essential.

May god bless the United States of America