What is there to celebrate? We’re in the middle of a national authoritarian, verging-on-fascism nightmare — the lowest ebb that U.S. Democracy has known since 1776. Trump has turned an occasion for traditional patriotism into celebration of rightism and, of course, his own Mussolini-ness. Carole King has stated that she’s not participating in a Trump celebration, but if I were her I wouldn’t go anywhere near the nation’s capital today. I mean, good God.

What aspects of this once-great nation really deserve celebration? Presently speaking, I mean. The good would-be leaders (Buttigieg, Warren, Harris, O’Rourke), the native music (rock, jazz), the great movies and plays, the humor, kindness and neighborliness from everyday folks, the natural scenic beauty, etc. Not the military might (although that’s obviously essential for a world power), not the tanks and jets, not the drums and rifles. Everyone enjoys the comfort and privilege that comes with American citizenship, but who’s actually proud of being the Romans of our time — a rogue state that strikes when and where we please? I feel warm surges of patriotism whenever I watch The American Experience on PBS, but not so much when I look around today, and especially when I think of the the redhats standing behind Trump.

I love the culture of the great American cities, of course (including the one I live in), and I love the great natural wonders of this country. And pretty much every small rural town I’ve ever visited. But I’ve always felt happier in Paris, Rome, Prague, Bern, Munich, Lauterbrunnen, Berlin, Hanoi, Belize, the Pyrenees, the Italian Alps, southeastern Spain…anywhere across the pond. Especially these days. As far as I’m concerned this is a National Day of Mourning. Our Democratic traditions are being dismantled, and 40% or more of the populace thinks that’s just fine.