Look back in anger

I must admit, things have seemed pretty bleak since last November and the election of Bully Supreme. Why, then, did I burst out laughing when I heard some of the provisions of the new “Cut, cut, cut” tax bill? It is so extreme, so heartless that crying would be a more appropriate response. Well… it just reminded me of when I was much younger, learning English not just in school but through pop music and film. Do any of you remember the lyrics to this very upbeat-sounding Tom Paxton tune?

“You can’t afford to buy bread no more, Well, this ain’t a charity store,You say your kids are hungry too, Well, we’ve got good news for you….

You can eat dog food, You really ought to try it, etc….” Look it up on YouTube.

Although I am too young to remember it, I have seen footage of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. Bob Dylan sang ” A Pawn in their Game”. He could have described some of today’s Trump voters, those poor white folks who work hard, get nowhere because excesses of capitalism have stacked the deck against them, and take it out on people they have been taught to fear and despise because of the color of their skin. In the same year, the great Nina Simone started singing “Mississippi Goddam” in the wake of the killings of voter registrars and activists. We progress by leaps and bounds – and sometimes we regress.

Trump is attempting to destroy the very fabric of democracy by attacking the institutions that bind us as a society. Autocratic by temperament, he tries to consolidate power in the presidency. He tolerates Congress as long as it functions as an Amen chorus, and denigrates any Senator or Representative who crosses him. Most dangerously, he undermines trust in our free press and creates doubt in the minds of his followers. When in doubt, who you gonna call? Trump, of course, the only one who can fix anything wrong in the world, or so he claims.

I am not suggesting that “this, too, will pass” and we can just wait out the storm. On the contrary, now is the time to get out, protest, demand that our elected officials behave as representatives of the people, not shills for big business. Now is the time to insist on a revision of Citizens United, which helped create the mess we are in. Now is the time to register new voters, now is the time to talk to moderate Republicans and persuade them to get with the program. Doug Jones’s election in Alabama gives us hope.

I would like to end my rant with a few lines from Bob Dylan’s 1964 “Chimes of Freedom”

“….. majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds/ Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing/ Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight/ Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight/ And for each and every underdog soldier in the night/ And we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.”

We have been in worse situations and have braved perils as great as the obscene Trump cloud hanging over the country. Let’s roll up our sleeves.

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