I was born in the wrong latitude, so every winter I visit places that are warm and sunny, where palm trees grow and snowflakes are unknown. My visits used to be an antidote for seasonal affective disorder, but now, apparently, they are also amazingly helpful in lowering my pre-hypertensive blood pressure readings. Now that there are prescriptions for alternatives like medical marijuana, I’m hoping that I can convince my doctor that I need a prescription for four weeks of vacation each winter. It would make it so much easier to convince my sweetie to flee with me.

Coming back from Belize last month, we were greeted on arrival by an immigration official who said, “Welcome home,” words I’ve appreciated hearing over the years. Whenever I’ve come back from outside the U.S., that greeting makes me smile, even though I love seeing other parts of the world and resist boarding those return flights.

On the way home from the airport, it was clear that my holiday from pre-hypertensive blood pressure readings was over. I think it might have been a Trump/Pence bumper sticker that set me off. Weirdly, while I hadn’t followed any news on vacation except what I’d read on Facebook, just the reminder, with apologies to Dorothy, that we weren’t in Kansas anymore was enough to cause my relapse.

The problem is that while I knew what was happening while I was gone, the immigration official’s words brought home the reality that home was now a place I don’t recognize, nor necessarily want to be.

While I was mayor, I occasionally got phone calls or emails suggesting my words and actions weren’t patriotic and that leaving the country is something I should consider. I always just laughed, because my definition of a patriot is someone who loves her country and supports it, but won’t blindly follow whatever her country’s government does.

The reality is though, these days, “patriot” is synonymous with “nationalist,” someone who blindly follows whatever her country’s government does, and lacks her own ability to think and reason for herself. The new definition makes me very sad, but I take heart from the millions of people who have taken to the streets and have confronted congressional representatives with their unhappiness at the direction the country is taking.

But I’m tired, tired of fighting for Supreme Court appointees who consider women and children equally as valuable as men and who believe all of us are more important than corporations.

The nomination of Neil Gorsuch is pretty much a mirror of the nomination 30 years ago of Robert Bork and of too many of nominations in between. The confirmation of Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA is a total disregard of the hard work of Maine Sens. Ed Muskie and George Mitchell, who understood 40 years ago the need to clean up and protect our air and water.

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education is a repudiation of the Jeffersonian notion that democracy cannot survive without a strong commitment to public education.

The fact that the Trump administration is considering eliminating money for violence against women, and our own governor refuses to spend millions of federal dollars allocated for that purpose, is shameful. In a country where 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and in a state where more than half our murders are the result of domestic violence, protesting is the patriotic thing to do.

But,that’s what makes my blood boil and me tired.

These fights are not ones in which we need to be engaging. We have many more important battles to wage, including saving our planet from overheating; making sure our children and families have enough healthy food to eat, safe places to live, clean air to breathe and water to drink; creating world-class public schools to support the needs of a 21st-century workforce; building skills and creating 21st-century jobs for those who need them; incorporating the skills of immigrants and refugees in building our economy; and, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. If that agenda causes me to be labeled socialist instead of patriotic, too bad.

The die-hard Trump supporters aren’t going to believe that the swamp Trump promised to drain is now being filled with self-interested billionaires. They aren’t going to believe that Trump’s hateful speech is behind increased attacks on Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, immigrants, and women, nor are they likely to see that his support of Russia is not in our best interests. It may take some time, but I have faith, however, that the majority of the country will and that they will make their voices heard at the polls.

So for a while I’ll put up with being tired of fighting to make America even greater, support my friends of color and those of different religions, keep my eye on the prize, and demand that our representatives start working for the majority of us.

I’ll put up with being tired because I really want to enjoy being welcomed home after escaping winter weather — one thing I have no hope of changing.

Karen Heck is a resident and former mayor of Waterville.

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