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This morning America woke up to an autocracy. As expected, there were insipid complaints about Nancy Pelosi’s “antics” — not just from the usual sources, but from people who should have been railing against the transmogrification of America into an authoritarian state rather than Pelosi’s symbolic gesture of tearing up a piece of paper. These misguided people, who are supposedly rational, would rather whine about “civility” than address the all-too-apparent fact that we no longer have a functioning democracy.

The oath to defend the Constitution, which Republicans so blithely broke yesterday, is not just words. It is a binding contract — like saying “I do” during a wedding. It is a promise to defend democracy and its principles. By breaking their oath, Republicans who hold public office have now reneged on their duty to protect and defend the country. They are — and this is no exaggeration — traitors.

What does it mean to hold public office in a democracy? It means placing the welfare of the citizens you represent above your own personal interests. Putting the interests of another above your own is also the definition of love.

The Republicans who voted to acquit Trump yesterday of what was manifestly a conscious choice to undermine the sovereignty of the nation for his own personal gain do not love this country.

I have, throughout my long involvement with social activism, ranted against US wars abroad, abhorrent financial practices that have drained the third world, corruption in government, lack of transparency, deceit, propaganda, lies — but I have always loved my country. This morning I woke up with the knowledge that my home, this country that I have tried to make better by holding it to a code of conduct that is honorable and fair, no longer exists.

Erica Verrillo is an author and founder of the American Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Society (, a 501 (c)(3)national nonprofit. For ten years, she directed a nonprofit for aiding Guatemalan refugees, and was a member of the Sanctuary movement. She is currently finishing a memoir about her experiences living in a military dictatorship during Argentina’s Dirty War.

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