My parents, who grew up in Poland and the Soviet Union, believed both that America was heaven on earth and that it could easily turn into hell. To create that hell would require two elements: an economic downturn and the emergence of an anti-democratic strongman. They were convinced that Americans were susceptible to the appeal of a demagogue because they took their democracy and economic comfort for granted. As a kid, I thought my parents were crazy in this assessment. Tonight I found out that they were on target.
I have lived in a country that moved forward, believed in human dignity, and had a uniquely optimistic spirit. I was amazed by and cherished the collective behavior of America’s citizens. I felt my country was special. That pride ended with this election tonight. We’re now an ordinary, banal place.
I traveled to Nevada this week to help Democrats during the election. The person I’m standing next to in the picture below became our first Latina US senator tonight. That’s something to celebrate. But hers ultimately was a small battle won. We as a country have lost our uniqueness.
I came to Nevada in an upbeat mood. I walked to the Democratic Party’s “victory celebration” with a little skip in my step. America was going to vote to continue its 80-plus year long march of progress and its embrace of its role as a world leader. I leave Las Vegas deeply embarrassed. We have elected a man who is profoundly ignorant and mentally unfit. The American voter has made a mistake of monstrous proportions.
My parents also believed that demagogues had to be fought. Individuals needed to be vigilant and speak out whenever democracy was being challenged. I accept Donald Trump as a temporary and completely unsuitable leader of my country. I will help to make sure he is only a one-term president. I will help anyone – left, right or center – who possesses the political talent to bring Trump down.