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Parks and Recreation: Leslie Knope’s Letter to America After 2016 Election


“‘Greenie was the better candidate,’ I said. ‘Greenie should have won.

“She nodded.

“‘I suppose that was the point of the lesson,’ I said.

“‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘The point of the lesson is: people are unpredictable, and democracy is insane.’”

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried.” That is perhaps a pithier and better way to get my point across, than that long anecdote about Mrs. Kolphner. Should I just erase all of that and start with this? Whatever. I’m pot-committed now, and is there extra caffeine in that hot chocolate? Because my head feels like a spaceship. The point is: people making their own decisions is, on balance, better than an autocrat making decisions for them. It’s just that sometimes those decisions are bad, or self-defeating, or maddening, and a day where you get dressed up in your best victory pantsuit and spend an ungodly amount of money decorating your house with American flags and custom-made cardboard-cutouts of suffragettes in anticipation of a glass-ceiling-shattering historical milestone ends with you getting (metaphorically) eaten by a giant farting T. rex.

Like most people, I deal with tragedy by processing the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. My denial over the election results was intense. My anger was (in Ron’s words) “significant.” My bargaining was short, but creative – I offered my soul and the souls of all of my friends in exchange for 60,000 more votes in Milwaukee, to any demon who cared to accept. (Tom told me it was a terrible deal, but I didn’t care, in that moment.) My depression I have already mentioned. Which brings us to Acceptance. And here’s what I stand on that:

No. I do not accept it.

I acknowledge that Donald Trump is the President. I understand, intellectually, that he won the election. But I do not accept that our country has descended into the hatred-swirled slop pile that he lives in. I reject out of hand the notion that we have thrown up our hands and succumbed to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and crypto-fascism. I do not accept that. I reject that. I fight that. Today, and tomorrow, and every day until the next election, I reject and fight that story. I work hard and I form ideas and I meet and talk to other people who feel like me, and we sit down and drink hot chocolate (I have plenty) and we plan. We plan like mofos. We figure out how to fight back, and do good in this infuriating world that constantly wants to bend toward the bad. And we will be kind to each other, and supportive of each other’s ideas, and we will do literally anything but accept this as our fate.

And let me say something to the young girls who are reading this. Hi, girls. On behalf of the grown-ups of America who care about you and your futures, I am awfully sorry about how miserably we screwed this up. We elected a giant farting T. rex who does not like you, or care about you, or think about you, unless he is scanning your bodies with his creepy T. rex eyes, or trying to physically grab you like a toy his daddy got him (or would have, if his daddy had loved him). (Sorry, that was a low blow.) (Actually, not sorry, I’m pissed, and I’m on a roll, so zip it, super-ego!) Our President-Elect is everything you should abhor, and fear, in a male role model. He has spent his life telling you, and girls and women like you, that your lives are valueless except as sexual objects. He has demeaned you, and belittled you, and put you in a little box to be looked at and not heard. It is your job, and the job of girls and women like you, to bust out.

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