My love affair with democracy


Democracy I love you. Or I thought I did. But I just don’t know what to think anymore. Anxiety clouds every fibre of my being; you’ve rejected me and chosen another. Perhaps you can see why I’m disenchanted; Donald Trump has won. The needs, wishes and hopes of so many Americans have been ruthlessly cast aside. This time there is such a dichotomy between the views of Clinton and Trump supporters that reconciliation seems almost like a pipe dream.

Pablo Neruda puts it best if you reread his beautiful, “The Saddest Poem” through the prism of the American general election. Imagine he’s talking about democracy.

“I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her”.

“Love is so short and oblivion so long”.

“My soul is lost without her”.

And my soul is indeed lost. It vanished somewhere in the night as I was sleeping. Stole from the room where I slumbered. Turned the handle without a sound and then down the stairs. And in the morning the realisation. The sense that something irreparable had broken within me, to be replaced by a morass of desperation.

Because I loved you democracy. They called you names, told me that you were “the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried.” That from the demagogue Winston Churchill. But I didn’t listen to them, because I knew the real you. Or thought I did.

And now? What do you want from me? Phil Collins had it right, “there’s just an empty space” inside of me, caused by your very hand. You chose a madman, a xenophobe, a misogynist over me. He sold you lies and you believed him.

And what does this leave me with? Binge-eating, tears and Jeremy Kyle. Unable to get through my seminars without thinking about you, how great we could have been.

And it hurts me that you don’t even care. You chose him without any regard for me, for the people that loved you.

And, to quote “The Magnetic Fields”, “I don’t want to get over you”, I don’t want to move on. I want you to come back to me in 2017, or 2020 or whenever, tell me that you’ve changed your mind. That you’ve made the wrong decision, that you didn’t really love him at all.

“I could listen to all my friends, and go out again, and pretend it’s enough.” Pretend that I don’t need you to care democracy. But it’s not, and never will be enough.

Bonnie Raitt had it right; you’re fickle and I still love you, but democracy, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t”.

Photograph by IoSonaUnaPhotoCamera via Flickr

My thanks to This American Life, episode 339, for the song recommendations.

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