Like a true lady, America has been generous with her dance card. She has allowed 43 different men to escort her onto the floor, one of them on two separate occasions. Each man has been strikingly different from the next. They have varied in age, religion, race, ethnicity, education, social status and philosophy.
Some have guided her with skill and grace. Twirling her elegantly in time with the music, encouraging her proudly to display the breadth of her beauty. They have allowed her to absorb the spotlight while following her lead.
Others have not been such selfless partners. There are those who have stepped on her toes because they’ve chosen to dance to a different beat than the one she is hearing. A few have even spiked her punch and attempted to convince her to relinquish her values in exchange for theirs.
She never abandons any of these gentlemen before the music has stopped. She always makes good on the contract of her dance card. At times she’s basked in the warmth of the spotlight. But she has also known the frigid depths of the shadow cast by a partner’s ego. All the while she has kept her head held high and her principles close. She has remained dignified, humble and open to dancing with whomever she is paired.
She currently finds herself in the arms of a man who wishes to guide her across the floor in a manner with which she is completely unfamiliar. To her this dance is completely foreign and seems to be leading in an uncharted direction. She is finding it increasingly more difficult to will her feet to comply with these new steps. The result is two dancers spinning quite clumsily and entirely haphazardly across the floor.
America is tripping over the feet of a man who wants her to follow his lead, to conform to his chosen rhythm. He cares little about the proper execution of the predetermined choreography; he has brought his own drummer.
There are some who are in awe of the brazen manner of America’s latest dance partner. His approach is new and different. His arrogant steps are sloppy and have fallen out of time with the music., but they happily overlook the quality of his performance, because they love his style.
Other audience members are staring in wide-eyed disbelief as America, their consummate favorite and reigning champion is being made to look like an amateur. They pray that she can last the length of this song. Can she maintain her dignity when she is being made to look like such a fool? Can she recover after so many missteps? Will she live to dance another day?
If she holds true to what she knows to be right, she can regain control of the pace. She can finish strong and smiling and will retain her standing in the world. But if she chooses to acquiesce to her partner’s will, her bright star will be extinguished forever.
The outcome will be decided by a two-judge panel presided over by Time and History. These two may have the final say as to her fate, but their decision is highly susceptible to public opinion. Now is not a time for shyness, applaud if you like the show you’re watching or boo if you’re unimpressed, believe me the judges are all ears.