THE DEATH OF POLITICS (Segue of the Day: 3/22/16)

Well the first death of American politics anyway. Whether politics ever have more than one death to die in any given culture is, I suppose, still an open question.

I actually heard these three songs in a row on the radio a few days ago but they’ve stayed with me because they formed a heart-stopping triptych and because there’s no way to understand what’s going on now without understanding what went on then.

What went on “then” (i.e. in the seventies and eighties) was a successful attempt by the overlords to take the politics out of politics. What’s going on now, in this “turbulent” political season is an attempt, in the candidacies of Trump and Sanders, to put the politics back in. If you see the “establishments” running, then you know they understand the degree to which their lives are at stake. If you see them landing much harder on Trump than on Sanders, it’s only because Trump actually has a chance at a nomination.

What has been noticeably missing is any contemporary cultural component. The attempts of major athletes and hip hop stars to associate themselves with Black Lives Matter, for instance, have come across as the crass commercial ploys they are. One can almost see the thought balloons floating above their heads: “Wonder if this is good for my shoe contract?”

Answer: “Yes it is!”

No surprise there. Radical chic has been a big seller for decades.

And it’s not as though the cultural component that existed the last time around was some kind of unqualified success. It certainly didn’t succeed in keeping the politics in politics.

But the whole point of remembering the revolution at this point–the main point of this blog–is to recall a sense of possibility. To remember that it’s not a given for people to have no voice in their culture or their governance (and, of course, not a given that we will choose wisely should such possibilities exist again…only that the current road is the way to dusty death).

It was not always thus. And perhaps. just perhaps, it need not always be thus:


And the killer…now almost forgotten by the radio:

We’ll leave music’s ability to stop or recapture time, and my memories of hearing the latter on the way home from the hospital the week my mother died out of this for now. Worrying about the country seems heavy enough.

2 thoughts on “THE DEATH OF POLITICS (Segue of the Day: 3/22/16)

  1. The music of my coming of age, some of it, called out our better angels and many of us responded. But that was decades ago. Having given up hope and optimism, I fear I am becoming cynical. I don’t recognize my country anymore. There was a time when we didn’t torture our captured enemies, not because of who they were but because of who we are.
    Lately, I’ve been trying to comfort dear friends whose beautiful and astonishingly talented daughter took her own life at the age of 24. Many are the times that her singing brought me to tears. We’re left with only the tears.

    Don’t let the weight of worrying about the country get you down. The more things change the more they stay the same. Music helps.
    Take care.

  2. Thanks Peggy. I’m terribly sorry about your friend’s daughter. I had my own issues at that age and was lucky to make it through…with the help of the music. We have definitely lived to see bleak times and I find it hard to remain optimistic. Have to hang on to that old saw about the alternative (giving up) being worse! And history does contain surprises. I just hope I live to see the next one, because the only surprise now would be good news!

Leave a Reply