And speak they will: rant, whine, preach, bluster, complain, and pontificate. I celebrate that we have a system of government that allows and enables anyone to give voice. But the whole point of our ethos is that we the people are complicated and opinionated and there is no one voice for the American People. So let’s hear out the new electees while asking them to speak for themselves and their constituencies—each of which is only a portion of the American People. Let’s remind them that they are only some of the American People and others will replace them in a few years as the corrective process of governance continues. We’re like ants who navigate in a zigzag, one antenna reaching out over the scent trail until the path is lost and then the other antenna reaching out to find the way again. We cannot move in a straight line. We are governed in a messy process that yokes vision with skepticism.
So be it.
As for Arizona, I apologize for the heartless example our state’s leadership under Governor Jan Brewer has set. Many of us tried to turn the election. I’m deeply sorry that we failed. I stand with my friends, the jaguars and ocelots and the families that have lived here generations longer than I and my Anglo cohort, in opposing publicly-sanctioned hate, racism, and exclusion. I endorse a humane guest worker program and dignified pathway to citizenship for anyone who wants to help build this democracy. I will pay more taxes willingly, eagerly, if it means a hand up for those in need, protection of habitat, education of children and adults, and regulation of industries that degrade our culture with greed, injustice, and/or environmental brutality. Some of the American People hold this creed and will never stop speaking in the interest of greater fairness, justice, thoughtfulness, generosity, and reasoned conversation about the unrealized aspirations of our great and flawed national experiment.
And a hat toss to Harry Reid!
Alison Hawthorne Deming is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, and an Advisor to Orion.