Monday, June 26, 2017

Confessions of a liberal hobgoblin as a young man

Well all hail Trump and the breathless gonzo he inspires: Having absorbed numerous presidential campaign conventions, with the media in the mainstream, as well as on the fringes as a roving-then-writing observer of the times, and having taken the pulse on my own social media now sanitized of those fuckheads who like to write in caps, I have started to assess where exactly I was coming from when planning to vote for Hillary Clinton, against every disaster, personal, professional and political, that came before during my life.

Because due to the Electoral College, my vote didn't count.

Some quick memories.

Pink Floyd's "The Wall," seen in Los Angeles, with its thundering cynicism about the world at large as it spins headlong toward fascism. The counter-Woodstock pilgrimage of my college days.

Sitting amid a bunch of political science professors as I was a student reporter trying to get reaction to Ronald Reagan's presidential victory in 1980. They kept popping their heads in the room expressing anguish and astonishment in the social sciences building at the University of Arizona.

Then, after graduating and getting a newspaper job in Prescott, Arizona, interviewing homeless people living in the forest on the fringes of town. They were like peasants kept outside the castle wall in medieval times.

Then, same newspaper, doing a series of stories on some very sick people who had run across a new term in insurance policies, "pre-existing conditions," and were literally left to die without any care at all.

Then, during these days of deregulation, covering something called the rural tariff,  which required rural residents to pay the full price of getting a phone line out to their cabins, little houses on the prairie, and so on. An Arizona Corporation Commissioner later quit after those controversial days to start her own cell phone company.

Boy was she smart.

Finally, religious nuts in Prescott Valley, burning record albums in a big pit at moonlight. It was as if the Dark Ages had returned.

That boils the Reagan era down for me.

Why more people don't claim he was the Anti-Christ, considering his moral majority support, as well as tendency of political hypocrisy, breakout military inclinations, the scandals that never went anywhere, and the greed, the stupid endless greed, is beyond me. Guess I was never much of a gauge on the looming apocalypse, after all.

Because here I am. The sky has not fallen.

I owe my liberalism to rock music, especially British prog-rock, and Kurt Vonnegut, and then, Edward Abbey (who may not have been a liberal at all). As well to watching how religio-political fanatics behaved in my personal life throughout the 1980s. Authoritarianism and raging persecution, for poor me, the rock critic, was local as all politics, as Tip O'Neill might have said. 'Bout had my eyes scratched out by a bunch of increasingly intolerant Christian activistas.

Fast forward to the speed and emotional integrity of a U2 song, and heck, that brings me right up to the late 1990s. Because here I am. Hello, is this the political PTSD support group? There now, is this so painful?

I mean, what could go wrong? Did I vote for Al Gore in 2000? Hell no. The Clinton administration's periodic bombing of Iraq to distract the nation from the Monica Lewinsky scandal led me to vote for Ralph Nader. But Massachusetts, where I was living at the time, was going to go for Gore and I had the idea it was a good time to join those wishing to express dissent about the two-party system. Then came Florida's failure to count all the votes, the dimpled chads, all the rest as the right-leaning Supreme Court decided the game ,,, and then, and then, and then I completely lost any hope for a political solution.

I'm not joking. Lost it. Everything I'd every learned since I was a kid, which I took really seriously, all that patriotic stuff, was proven to be wrong.

I could bring you right up to date in the current century. The Dot-Com bust. 9/11. The Great Recession. But it's all too heart-breaking. For myself and many of my close friends and lovers. Many of whom are no longer with us because of the seismic shifts in society. And now, the New Cruelty, Republican retrogression in healthcare.

I only have the strength to post this about a previously cruel century during the days of the industrial revolution from to provide what I think about the latter: "The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief which existed in England and Wales that developed out of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws being codified in 1587–98. The Poor Law system was in existence until the emergence of the modern welfare state after the Second World War ... In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act was passed by Parliament. This was designed to reduce the cost of looking after the poor as it stopped money going to poor people except in exceptional circumstances. Now if people wanted help they had to go into a workhouse to get it."

So, yes, it's all too much. But ego death is a good thing.

That I lost my civic bearings because George Bush II took over has been well-rewarded, or, at least, justified by history. Now comes Trump and truth is disposable and we are all at the mercy of the pharaohs more than ever. But what didn't kill me made me stronger. I should get an honorary degree for this. A doctorate in survival and resiliency. And I know how hard it is to get centered and balanced in times like these. Music helps. I recommend King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," then call me in the morning.

Just want to let you know where I came from. I'm not a shaman. I'm not a columnist. I'm not even a real journalist anymore. We all belong in the same museum as coal miners. I'm just a fool fallen down off the hill with some tunes in my head. Poetry pouring out. Wish I had a nickel for everyone who told me they were a medicine man. I'm not a medicine man. But a wise one once gave me a riddle. "What does a shaman want to be? A human being."

So that's it. That's me. Hopefully. My political views have been sculpted by my experience. Other than that I don't know crap. Your mileage may vary. And I don't weed out the conservatives on my social media anymore. Because we need to have a chat. Maybe we can both learn something. Just don't use CAPS!

P.S. Maybe all the moon-beams and wingnuts can comment on these words from the Crimson King:

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams,
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
As silence drowns the screams

Between the iron gates of fate,
The seeds of time were sown,
And watered by the deeds of those
Who know and who are known;
Knowledge is a deadly friend
When no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind I see
Is in the hands of fools

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh,
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying

~ "Epitaph," by King Crimson

Written by Greg Lake, Ian Mcdonald, Michael Rex Giles, Peter John Sinfield, Robert Fripp • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

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