The day we inaugurated a beast. The day Republicans surrendered their oft-expressed claim to the moral high ground. The day democracy failed us, allowing the dream of a better society for all to be forfeited to the greed of the selfish, the individual, the “me.” Today is the culmination of a year of lies and false promises, the beginning of a treacherous journey that will cost our nation dearly.

I had thought the differences between the two major political parties could be summarized thusly: Democrats favor pragmatic solutions; Republicans prefer a strictly moral approach. This explained differing attitudes toward social services, healthcare, women’s rights, and so on. Everyone should make his or her own way, be productive, contribute – surely; but at times there are obstacles that need addressing – limitations due to racial bias, economic disparity, physical disability. This view offered hope that as long as we came back to our common ground – the legitimate goals of a self-governing assemblage of a diverse people – we could then move forward to workable if not ideal solutions to our common problems.

Until today. With the election and installation of Donald Trump, Republicans surrender that claim to morality. By endorsing a patently immoral man and entrusting him with our Executive function, you idolize a man whose qualities are base, whose concerns are for the few like him.

I cannot “just let it go,” cannot “give the man a chance.” He’s had his chances, so many chances, such HUGE chances, squandering or abusing them all. Yet you believe him, even as he reverses course, belies his promises, and “drains the swamp” – not to rid of us vile creatures, but to find the lowest, the biggest, and install them as lieutenants by his side.

In this I find the most disappointing realization: your staggering inability to spot a con man out for himself. It weakens my faith in democracy, which now becomes a game of players and fools, of sharks and marks. Ethics are long gone, lost in the glee of successful gerrymandering, of delayed or denied executive appointments, of the abandonment of the constitutional duty to hear a Supreme Court nomination. Now your morality has been sold off at auction, even surprised as you were at the highest bidder.

Show me a candidate of some existential worth, some credential for healing the population he or she is elected to serve. Most of the sixteen you floated wished to help themselves, not the rest of us. If you had backed one decent person, I could have gone along with you, could have “given him a chance.” We all did that when you asked us to back the puppeteer Cheney and his marionette Mr. Bush, walking into a war to secure our nation that instead destroyed more American lives than terrorists ever will. We backed you when you opened the regulatory valves of financial services to save the economy, creating the worst recession since 1929. Now we have a man determined to remove the those gate valves entirely, to assign foxes to guard the hen-house, to replace “government” with “business.”

How can you call yourselves the party safeguarding morality when the pinnacle, your leader, is a man without integrity, a man who violates those norms you cherish with impunity? How could you do this – to us as a nation, to yourselves? Did you respond to the rhetoric of hatred against the woman he opposed? Were you entranced by the new puppeteer from foreign shores? Or were you just hoping for more money, responding to the promises of jobs lost to technology and irreversible global changes, of a few dollars less in taxes while the super wealthy rake in millions? Are you lost in the daydream of one day being a “Master of Industry” while living your life under the financial yoke of banks and bosses?

Remember the day you installed a beast, the greatest liar in political history. A man who regularly violates the rights of workers, the dignity of women, the security of our nation. Remember the day your grasp for greed backfired, leaving you no better off – with nothing but broken promises and a bite from the snake who seemed to you such a changed and better man.

Can you honestly look up to this man with a straight face? Would you entrust your retirement account to him? Would you let your daughter anywhere near him? Yet you hand him the “reigns” of government, the keys to our nation, to our treasury and defensive arsenal.

Without a Black man to hate, the Republican Party of No has now become the Party of Me, of greed, of simplistic notions in an overly complex world. When will we come together as a nation to solve our problems collectively, to mature from our Wild West past, yielding our fantasies of vast personal riches to accept the reachable life of comfort and plenty? When will we commit ourselves to caring for all, for providing real opportunity that matches the hallmark of our nation’s heritage?

Other first world countries have achieved these goals already, while we ride around on horseback, proclaiming we are “Number One!” And first we are: in child poverty, in cost of healthcare, in uninsured citizens, in death rates, in gun ownership and gun-related homicides. The list goes on; we refuse to read it.

Instead, we ride around, shooting our six-guns and AK47s. Go ahead: give the foxes the run of the hen-house; just don’t complain when the eggs are gone, when the chickens are gone. Don’t believe excuses that opponents have stolen them all from under the well-fed, watchful eye of the carnivores you have entrusted.

In time, I’m hopeful that candor and sobriety will prevail, that we meet in a room to begin the civil discourse that can steer us back on a path to collective advancement of our nation and its people. Yet I fear we will endure a period of pain and suffering before that willingness takes hold. For we have lost our moral compass and instead follow a Pied Piper into darkness.

I will keep a candle lit.

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