Thinking back a year I am reminded how shocked and apprehensive (to put it mildly) we were with the harsh reality of the election outcome. When I got out a sweatshirt the other day I saw it had a safety pin on it, something that was suggested people do to make immigrants or other threatened or at risk people know that we were a friendly person to trust. We had groups mobilizing, lots of meetings. Thankfully some of those have persisted, Indivisible, Women’s March and off shoots like Second Chance voting rights. We are, I believe, more “woke,” but the level of resistance seems to have diminished, as the forewarned normalization has occurred.
But we are changed. The current backlash against men who use their power to take advantage of women can trace back to the outrage over Trump’s bragging about grabbing women. Hundred of thousands of pussy hats converged on DC. That Hollywood has woke and spoke out against Weinstein and his exploitative behavior has had a mirrored grass roots awareness campaign with the “#me too” social media phenomena, with everyday women revealing how toxic and pervasive male supremacy is. In a documentary film about her, singer songwriter Ferron said “Women live lives of oppression, men live lives of illusion.” Those ten words say so much.
So here we are winding down 2017. Yes, there are grassroots actions happening here and elsewhere, but on a national level things are not very pretty. That the Republicans are tied in knots is not a surprise, a chaotic election with a reality show celebrity overrunning their establishment people and the media coming right along for the sake of ratings leaves them dazed and confused. Some are bailing out and calling out the unhinged occupant in the White House, but too little too late. The Democrats tried a different electoral strategy, not the chaos of the R’s but a very controlled stage managed coronation for Hillary Clinton, but that plan was interrupted by the grassroots campaign of Bernie Sanders, which was pure democracy in action – not part of the plan the Democratic party leadership had in mind. That split has not healed at all, and the intransigence of the Clinton/DNC faction to try and put all the blame on Russian hacking (and Bernie!) is dreadful for the chances of a comeback election in 2018.
Cyber meddling, and meddling in general in foreign elections is going to be a fact of life from here forward, and it is something the US has done as well, repeatedly. Putin, then in the KGB, had a front row seat as the United States, in 1996, helped Yeltsin get elected in Russia. Much is made of the Podesta emails that were leaked. They were not “fake news,” they were inconvenient truths. If you want to worry about election meddling, worry more about Citizens United and the massive corporate dollars it unleashed, and voter suppression all around the country.
One last note on politics. As I write this Trump is on his way to Asia for a 12-day trip: Japan, Korea, China, Viet Nam, the Phillipines. What could possibly go wrong? This will be printed and distributed before he gets back. Sorry if we missed the big story …
New topic: a personal note on the power of music. Music is a powerful thing in my life, right from the NYC FM radio of my youth with Phil Ochs, Buffy Sainte Marie, Dylan, the Temptations, Richie Havens. The previous issue was published listening to a lot of Tom Petty. Last weekend was Fest here in GNV, and beyond the words and music, the sheer energy of a unified crowd singing along with heartfelt songs – songs of empowerment, of righteous anger, and the pure existential celebration of being alive in that moment with others means so much. I am so glad to be in a city where such life is celebrated in such a big way. I personally thank all my musician friends whose art means so much to me. And thanks to Tony and the women and men of No Idea who gather together hundreds of volunteers, book all the musicians and venues, and allow thousands of people from all over to come to our town for an annual gathering. You all rock!