Dear friends. Donald Trump will be our President in a few short weeks. No, this isn’t a bad dream. Yes, things may get worse. No, we won’t die unless there is a nuclear war. But that could always happen. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
I’ve written so much about fear. I sit here now worried that my words will fail me. They have so often. I’ve spent months writing about writer’s block (it doesn’t exist! If you have nothing to say don’t write anything! How narcissistic of you to write about what you are going through right now!) and I’ve spent years writing nonsense.
But most of the time, when the words come together right, I’ve only been trying to tell you what it is like on this side. Sometimes I give you the law, but most of the time I plead with you to please please please understand that the system in which we work is broken, unjust, unfair. It isn’t designed to rehabilitate or to reintegrate, and when someone comes out the other side whole it is nothing short of a miracle. One we celebrate and cherish because it is so rare. We don’t believe in mercy – for all our talk of second chances, Christian values, or paying debts to society, we are a system designed to annihilate, to crush and seek vengeance. No way will we not get our pound of flesh.
I say we all the time, because it is we. This is us. All of us. Yes, even you. You don’t think so? Who’d you vote for in this election?
Guess what? Doesn’t matter. None of your votes made a difference to anyone I’ve had the sorrow and privilege of sitting with in the 17 years that I’ve been doing this job. No elected official showed up to apologize for mandatory minimums, for lifetime sex offender registries, for taking away housing if your kid sells drugs in your house. No one said I’m sorry I did this to you.
No one is sorry. We think it’s all for the best. For the greater good. Law and order. I know. I’ve watched this for years and years and years. I call you all the ‘walk between the raindrops crowd.’ (You should read every one of these links. You will learn I am not what you think I am. None of us actually is.) What do you have to hide? Why do you care if a cop pulls you over, a kid is shot because his hands didn’t go up fast enough, your house is searched with a bad warrant? All humanity is nothing more than disposable bags of flesh. We kill you with a needle and if that isn’t good enough we will give you the option of getting electrocuted to death instead.
This shit scares me. It has scared me since 2001 when I became a defense attorney, a job I once thought was for losers and leftists who didn’t believe that people who did bad things should pay for their crimes. I know now that none of that is true. I believe people who do bad things should pay for their crimes and that we devise a system that is just and fair and that we actually provide people with the tools to defend themselves against the awesome power of the state. And then I believe that we should have another system that prepares people to come back out into the world and become productive. (I might still be a loser and leftist of different proportions, though. You can be the judge of that.)
I believe people shouldn’t lose houses. They shouldn’t lose their ability to go to college. They shouldn’t be placed on registries for life. They shouldn’t be separated from their families because they are deported for minor crimes. I don’t believe we should be incarcerating black men at astronomical rates. I don’t think we should take our progress, however little or great that is, for granted. I think that we should always realize the danger to those least able to protect themselves is always there and that we must forever be brave.
And I want you to realize that it has ALWAYS been this way. One of the links above is to a post I wrote about Obama’s first term. Go on, read it. Then come back here and tell me that this is different. I’ll believe you because it is. It’s worse. But it is worse because we were all asleep at the wheel believing that we were doing was okay. It has literally never been okay. Ever. I’ve begged you for years to listen to what I was telling you and yes, today I am going to “I told you so” because well, it’s my blog and that’s what I choose to do. And because maybe, this time you will listen.
I’m not afraid of Donald Trump. I’m afraid of us. I always have been. And yet, I will always try to be brave.