America, we will soon say goodbye to something. One way or another, this year will end with a farewell.

It will either close with a glorious, triumphant blast of freedom — or with the sickening death knell of a once – great nation, gone for good. Either America will part ways with this president or we will part ways with democracy.

Those are the choices here. This moment is about each of us choosing which we’re committed to losing. It is about deciding whether we will fight for this person, or for the disparate, multitudinous We The People who have shaped and defined and co-created it for two hundred and forty-three years.

As a child, I grew up being taught that the beauty of this nation was found in the personal liberties it promised for every human being without condition or caveat, the strength of the system that protected those liberties, and the people of integrity placed in positions of power that defended us against attacks on those liberties, whether they came from within or without.

The very bedrock of who we have been and would be (I was told), was the power of the collective voice of the people to determine our destiny together: of our individual wills tethered together like a sail that would steer us where we dreamed of heading as a country.

I believed that story and it was a story I had complete confidence in — until seeing the aftermath of the election. Right now, that story is at the precipice of becoming fiction.

In this very moment, as you read these words, our interdependent destinies are being written. I wonder what History will record about us. I wonder if any leaders are going to stand in this day and be courageous; if any of the people around this unhinged despot will decide that the temporary affections of a traitorous madman are not worth the assassination of a Republic.

I wonder of the small army of self-righteous professed Christians around him, will embrace the sacred call upon their lives to be agents of justice and mercy to the vulnerable and the oppressed. I wonder how many will forfeit their souls to gain a few seats in Congress.

And if all else fails, if no one rises to oppose this desperate and transparent coup; if the systems have been so perverted that they no longer hold the will of the people and if those entrusted to lead us have been so compromised that they no longer care to save us — I wonder if we are prepared to do what is required to demand that our will be done.

This has nothing to do with a politician or a political party — it is about the elemental core of America; its beautiful, beating human heart.

If every vote does not count, if each voice no longer matters, if elections are now academic — we are no longer who the songs and anthems declare we are. We are no longer the words chiseled into monuments announcing ourselves as a compassionate refuge for tired, huddled masses who long to breathe deeply in the winds of liberty. We are not a place worthy of the flag or the people who have defended it and died for it.

If we decide to yield the will of the American people to any person or any group of politicians (no matter who they are), we will have severed our last ties to everything that made us a brilliant beacon of light to this world.

We will have co-written the epitaph of this nation in this moment.

So Americans: Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; people of deep faith and of no religious affiliation; people of every pigmentation, orientation, and kind; those of every corner of this country that has given them a home — we need to decide who or what we will say goodbye to right now.

We either say goodbye to him: to a man who is so far beneath the privilege of leading America — or we say goodbye to America.

Those are the options. Our farewell today, will define us forever. I pray we’re not ready to say goodbye to America yet. I think our best years can still be ahead — we just need to live long enough to see them.

John Pavlovitz

D. Mylеs Cullеn / The White House

The original version of this Op Ed was published on

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