It is clear today more than any other time in U.S. history, the Republican nominee is the biggest threat to the safety and sovereignty of this nation and must be defeated by all 50 states.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Growing up, the thing I looked forward to most in school was saying The Pledge of Allegiance. I liked how everyone stood up and put their hands on their hearts. I liked how sincere the teacher looked when she looked at the flag. Sometimes I would just watch her face, wondering if she was seeing something I wasn’t. I liked the noise the desks and chairs made just after we said it, the cracks and ripples of pens and ruler edges against the metal and formica. I liked the ritual. I believed it not because it was my personal belief, but because everyone did.

That extended to an admiration for history. I liked the simplified lessons I learned about our great presidents. Washington and his wood teeth and truth-telling ways upon the occasion of his felling of a cherry tree. Old Abe Lincoln, tall with the stovepipe hat, born into nothing in a log cabin and rising up to defeat tyranny and slavery and setting our country in a different, more civil, more fair direction. FDR and his ever diminishing physicality, his voice booming over the nation’s radios telling them, black and white, rich and poor, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And through those words, mobilizing us to sacrifice for one another and to our greatest collective effort to defeat evil half a world away.

MLK and his march on Washington, Rosa Parks and her seat on the bus, Neil Armstrong’s one small step, Ronald Reagan’s shining city on the hill and morning in America worked me into a minor frenzy of wanting to do the right thing and protect the untarnished image of the greatest land the world has ever known. A land of promise—for everyone, of opportunity—for all who would take it and of compassion—for our brothers and sisters.

As I grew older, things began to change. A U.S. History major in college, I learned that the Civil Rights movement was far from civil and resulted in the rights of few. I watched on live TV as my best friend disappeared in a ball of fire, steel and glass in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. My profession, a newspaper journalist, was on life support just prior to the housing crash of 2008, and nonexistent after.

But I am an American. And though the mission may have been muddied, the will to soldier on, to stand up with my class and rest my head over my heart and speak out proud and loud, was stronger, more sincere than ever.

Then came this election cycle. One man’s lack of respect for his fellow American, the impact of his constant negative spew, his stirring the fervor of fringe hate groups, his refusal to release any documentation that would qualify him as financially responsible enough to even consider a run for office, his failure to pretend he has an interest in serving the public, reading a book or scanning over the Constitution, much less defending it, his contempt for the common problems that face people who are trying to earn an honest paycheck, raise productive children and still have a little leftover to look in their spouse’s eyes at the end of the day and say, “Things will be better tomorrow”, makes it hard to imagine he ever recited the pledge, much less knows the words to it today.

“It’s boring,” I’m sure he would say. “It’s stupid.”

And yet, there he is, his voice recorded a decade ago (while married) talking about how easy it is to use star power to bed random women. “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

His excuse, this statement: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

What? Wait. What was that?

Sorry. What the FUCK was that?

Outed for somehow saying something even MORE vile than the tens of thousands of vile things you’ve either been caught or very deliberately said in public and you try to say one of the more revered and philanthropic leaders of his time has done worse? That’s not an apology—not even close. That’s not showing accountability, empathy, courage, kindness or even anything besides a psychopath’s greedy and variant version of reality.

It is sickening. Debilitatingly so.

He is saying, I can say whatever I want, no repercussions. I can get away with anything, no consequences. And I will. I’ll do it till the end. And to him, the end won’t come soon enough.

I think about the kids I used to stand up and say the pledge with every day. I think of how they must feel about what’s happening, about this man, as adults. I wonder what they think of the clearest, most dangerous, most eminent threat to this country in this country’s history. You want the totalitarian rhetoric of Hitler and Stalin, the constant threat of terror attacks, an economy (which is a theory based on perceived stability) dancing constantly on the precipice of failure, the singling out and humiliation or destruction of individuals based on race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, the marginalization of the men and women who have protected and served this nation at all costs, the ever-loving angry backlash from Mother Nature rising her oceans and strengthening her storms, the height of Cold War-era promise of nuclear winter?

You got ‘em. You got ‘em all in one festering, bloated, tyrannical, incoherently destructive package.

One month to go in this election year which has suddenly become more than a referendum, more than a mandate, more than the invectives of party politics. We cannot lose one single state to this man, not one.

United we must stand against the evil that has infected the discourse, dialogue and basic human understanding of one another. Every single person in this country who wants to pass along something to their children and their children’s children—a belief system as old as it is imperfect and at the same time impenetrable as the piece of parchment that sits in Rotunda of the National Archives Building and proudly begins “We the People”—needs to stand up and be counted.

That’s right, We the People. Not just one person. All of us.

To get our country back, we must rise in unison, join together, listen to one another with grace and understanding, speak sincerely and as one with our hands over our hearts. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice …for all.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky“.