By MICHAEL DAVIDOW, Radio Free New Hampshire
Late at night, in these cold, dark times, I often find myself stumbling across YouTube’s infamous rabbit hole. I’m looking for an old performer that I like and listen to a song or two. Then the algorithms take over. Half of them lead me, inexorably, to Hey Jude. The other half takes me on a roller coaster.
I am always amazed, on the one hand, by the amount of tremendous talent that I had never appreciated before. I ran into PP Arnold the other day. She started out as a backing vocalist for Ike and Tina Turner, then grew into a little UK soul singing sensation. Or Bobbie Gentry, who walked away at the height of her fame, as a sultry brunette mix of B. Traven and Loretta Lynn. Or the young Dolly Parton, whose original version of I Will Always Love You shames Whitney Houstons.
Then there are the clinkers, those whose fleeting notoriety can only lead to shaking of the head. The Captain and Tenille, who tweeted a tasteless song about lovemaking muskrats, and who entertained the Queen of England at the White House herself. Juice Newton, who at least had the chance to cover a song or two of PP Arnold. Tony Orlando and Dawn, who CBS gave a TV show because they needed to replace Sonny and Cher.
It’s easy, of course, to make fun of these guys. But it is nonetheless striking how much quality has always existed; an art that has lasted, an art that has survived. Some of those bad things, in other words, probably were too. He just hit a particular nerve at the right time, in the right place, to resonate for a moment.
In other words: I’m still trying to understand Donald Trump.
And I come to believe that the old guy, as Joe Biden luckily stumbled when calling him – an overweight carnival barker in real clown makeup – became president of our country for very historical and cultural reasons. specific (right time, right place, wrong man). Among them:
(1) Beginning largely with Bill Clinton and his policy of triangulation (which itself grew out of fear and ambition, more than conviction), continuing through the Obama years, and ending so disastrously with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the abdication of the Democrats Party of its historic role as protector of the American working class and the failure of any other party to take its place, representing the working class with integrity and determination . Insofar as the Republican Party has become its recent champion, in other words, it has done so strictly in exploitation mode.
(2) Beginning more particularly with Barack Obama and once again reaching its sad crescendo during the Hillary Clinton fiasco, the Democratic parties embrace identity politics instead of economic justice, repeatedly siding with Wall Street and the United States. cultural elite, against the poor. , the middle class and those who sin by being less than cosmopolitan. Sad fact: When Democrats became Republicans, Republicans fundamentally broke down. And
(3) The rise of the internet, which not only gave devious slogans and obnoxious pictograms the role that had been played heretofore by public speeches by unions, voters and environmental groups, but also enabled the rapid organization of those who had never taken the time to be in politics before: the disconnected, the rootless and the angry, all happy to be whipped into a frenzy, because it was entertainment , and the louder and more flashy it got, the more it stood out. This technological perfection of our democracy almost killed us.
It’s three different cultural and political tendencies that come together at the same time, none of which was inevitable, all of which were based on some degree of selfishness, and none guaranteed the rise of a clown like Trump, but one that l ‘all helped to seize and then almost retain his power despite his own ineptitude and his final election. He fell over a giant wave, he rode it to the shore like a seal and took credit for the tide itself.
Biden has returned to normal in this country in many ways. You no longer need a pin screen to watch a Presidential Briefing. You are no longer afraid of punches at world summits. You are no longer surprised the last time the president and his wife had lunch together or buttered their own toast for that matter. These are all good things we can be thankful for.
But these trends remain in place. The New York Times and the city of San Francisco continue to ridicule themselves. The Republican Party continues to enslave a demagogue. The internet continues to spew pieces of poison.
Somewhere there is a PP Arnold, a Bobbie Gentry, a young Dolly Parton, who deserves to be listened to and cherished. But Tony Orlando and Dawn still drown them. And if that doesn’t stop, then the next Trump won’t be far behind.
Michael Davidow is a lawyer in Nashua. He is the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising that, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project. His most recent is the Book of the Order. They are available on Amazon.
InDepthNH.org takes no position on politics. Opinions in columns and opinion pieces are the property of the author.
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