D is for Demagogue. Despot. Deceptive. Delusional. Diddler. Dumbass. And, of course, Donald.
My Dad was a hardcore Republican (a picture of Barry Goldwater hung in his den in our home), and Ronald Reagan—our other celebrity-turned-president—was in office during my middle and high school years. So I’m very familiar with the mindset and priorities of the voices across the aisle. But this year’s election narrative couldn’t have been more surreal or sadly absurd if the Onion had been writing it. I wonder what The Gipper would have thought about our new President being a Russian patsy, or if he, or my dad, would even recognize their GOP anymore. Would they have seen through this charlatan, or ultimately toe the party line?
This past week, the San Diego Chargers, the football team I cheered for my entire life, announced that it’s packing its bags and moving to Los Angeles. To many (including me), this sense of betrayal will mean the severing of all support or connection with that team. But not everyone will. Loyalty and identification are powerful things, feeling that you’re part of something bigger.
What, I wonder then, would it take to sever one’s connection with your political party? To put your country before your partisanship? This year, we learned that for many millions of Republicans, electing a racist bully, an unapologetic lecher, an insecure authoritarian, and a profoundly selfish and un-Christian pathological liar and narcissist wasn’t enough to cut that cord. Power trumped empathy and basic human decency.
I’m lucky. I have a job I love in one of the most liberal districts in the country in a self-proclaimed sanctuary state. But I worry for my country—not just for its institutions and the millions of lives who will be hurt and maligned by this new administration, but also for its larger sense of fairness, dignity and purpose. I love my country, deeply, but the term “American Exceptionalism” is a bitter contradiction-in-terms when I see how susceptible it is to fear and bigotry and self-interest.
There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that our new president is a good person. He’s not a man of principle or character, just a cheat and vindictive opportunist. And as president, he, like all presidents, will get a postage stamp when he dies. What I’ve always liked about postage stamps is that they are meant to celebrate our culture, traditions, heroes, history.
But I can find no reason to celebrate today.
So now it’s a time for resolve and resistance. Resist having our values further eroded. Resist normalizing what was once horrid and unacceptable. Resist complacency in the shadow of ignorance and spite. Our country never stopped being great. But can we as Americans, from the right and the left, make it exceptional again, rooted in compassion, wisdom, and generosity? Yes we can.
The kitten stamp from last year's Pets set is Scott #5111 and the spay/neuter stamp is #3670. The Reagan stamp is #3897 and the US flag for veterans is #3331. The White House and Capitol stamps are from 1950 (D.C.'s sesquicentennial) and are Scott #990 & 992 respectively. The Child Labor Law stamp was part of the Celebrate the Century series, #3183o and the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens stamp is #5080j. The two stamps from the Building a Nation set are Scott #4801d & e .