MICK BOLGER: Farewell to the America that drew me and now pushes me away


In a few short months I’m moving back to Ireland, the country of my birth. I decided a while ago that it’s time for a new chapter, a fresh start. People, of course, ask if Donald Trump is a factor and I admit that, yes, he is a factor but he’s only the end result of something I should have seen coming

I really should have known it would end like this.

I should have known when just a few months after arriving in this country, a guy in the bar turned to me and said: “F*** you and your fancy education —I ’m worth a million dollars.” I had no idea where that came from or what the equation was supposed to mean.

Mick Bolger

I should have known when I saw Ronald Reagan trounce Jimmy Carter and watched the crowd in the cafeteria at the University of Colorado erupt in rejoicing. These were my generation and supposedly educated and they were delirious with joy.

I should have known when OJ was acquitted. How that people wanted to overrule the law and all logic.

I should have known when we were lied into war with Iraq, and how those Democrats who knew is was all lies were afraid to speak up because they’d be tarred as “unpatriotic.”

I should have known when grown men in positions of power started talking about ‘freedom fries.’

I should have known when John Kerry was viewed askance because he spoke French.

I should have seen it when the Republicans, terrified of a strong woman, hounded Hillary Clinton and piled false accusation upon lie for 30 years.

I should have seen it in the relentless racist attacks on Barack Obama and his family.

I should have known. But I didn’t see it as of a piece. And I was appalled, as was the rest of the world, when Donald Trump was elected —and I should have seen it coming.

This country was an inspiration to me, with the idea that people could make their own future un-beholden to prince or prelate. How you seemed to face up to your problems and tried to realize the ideals of the founding fathers. How you unseated a corrupt president and took to the streets to end an unjust war. How you gave us some of the best music and art and literature — and the movies! — man, the movies.

But I didn’t see the smallness in how you were so niggardly in supporting the arts — how they were always the ‘frills’ that got cut first when schools were strapped and how the military always got more than it could ever realistically need.

When I knew nothing of the politics of this country I came to recognize that if a proposal or a bill was small-minded, mean-spirited or even outright vicious, it was the Republicans’ doing. If it was stupid, ill-conceived or counter-productive, it was the Republicans’ doing.

Oh yes, the Democrats could be plenty venal at times, but they didn’t have the outright enthusiastic cruelty of the Republicans. And now they have brought the whole craven mess to a conclusion. Truth, decency, honor — everything that this country ever purported to stand for is for sale.

So, in June I move to Ireland and I will miss my friends and I will be sorry not to be here in the fight that is to come. And I will weep as America turns into a third-world theocracy. We had to fight our way through that in Ireland, too — I wish you all luck.

Mick Bolger is an artist, traditional-Irish musician and part of the group Colcannon. He’s also a poet, writer and Aurora resident.