New Day Rising
by Jeff Dinelli
I've been blaring this great title track off Husker Du's monster 1985 album, and thinking about its time, when the idea of starting something new in the middle of the Reagan years was a fantasy. We were doomed and we knew it. Bob Mould's shredding guitar wailed for us all. We pumped our fists hitting nothing but air. We wrote our letters to the editor, helped out in local elections if we could, donated leftover beer money to Amnesty International and Greenpeace, just so someone somewhere would continue to do their best to thwart Reagan policies at home and abroad, but with a lethargy people who came of age in that era can surely recall.
Of course the reason for pogo-ing around to "New Day Rising" now is the amazing election night results. I've toasted many an O-Bomb with friends the last two weeks, hoping this uncanny politician can undo the war, the fear, the instability and arrogance of the Bush/Cheney years. Young people voted for Obama at a ratio of 34:1. Those are Reaganesque numbers, and this wave of new voters carrying Obama resembles the Reagan wave of 1980 that brought in a dominant conservative vibe that held sway for essentially three decades.
So is the Reagan era dead? Are we on the brink of a new day of liberalism? Is this 1972 in reverse, with McGovern ousting Nixon?
I don't know, but I'm very pleased with Obama's first move, getting Axl Rose to finally release Guns 'N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, and even better still, the early buzz is hugely positive, and I'm giving full credit to bassist Tommy Stinson, who brings his unprecedented cred from years of toiling with the best band of the Reagan years, The Replacements. Hopefully our new Prez' next move is to eliminate instant replay in sports.
Oh, I'm just being silly, aren't I? Well, sorta. You tell me what Obama's gonna bring. This reminds me of Clinton's arrival, when we were all pumped up for "change". What we ended up with was NAFTA, invasions of Somalia and Kosovo, inhumane sanctions on Iraq, the turning of our country's collective arrogant back to the Rwandan genocide, blocking affordable AIDS medication from reaching millions of Africans, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and a federal government which refused to recognize same-sex marriage.
My purpose is to point out two things.
One, America's recession is creating global economic chaos, which, combined with two active wars, is going to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Obama to do anything resembling change. And conservatives, corporations and lobbyists are gearing up to provide some harsh resistance to progress, as always.
Though I didn't support my home state Senator in his campaign, the guy has some good ideas among the few he shared with us. He wants to start pulling some troops out of Iraq. He fought against US torture, looked like he was going to change things at Guantanamo, but apparently won't be doing the right thing by bringing war crimes charges against the Bush Administration. He wants to provide health insurance for people who can't afford it, though his plan pales in comparison to Hillary Clinton's. He's down with the idea of net neutrality, seems interested in finding alternative forms of energy, and will provide for a much fairer system of taxation. Yes we can, indeed.
Let me remind you, however, that this man wants to expand the war in Afghanistan, and talks about invading Pakistan or Iran like he's shooting the breeze about upcoming football games on tv this weekend. He supported the freaking PATRIOT Act. In fact, his record and/or views of government surveillance and individual privacy sorta give me the willies, especially after the precedent of unchecked executive privilege established by W. Is this a bad time to bring up the ridiculous fact that Joe Lieberman is still going to be allowed to slither his way down Senate hallways (oh, wait, Paradox just did, before me)? And coal-fueled power plants? We need more of those? Really?
Anyhow, the second point I wanted to convey is sort of a pep talk. We should never allow politicians to rule us. Let's make a commitment to being good citizens, using our hearts and voices and strength to force our will on these elected officials, especially now that we have a far kinder ear in charge than what we've grown accustomed to the last decade or three (four?). Keep up on the issues, be active at sites like these, write letters to the editor, to your local and state officials. In short, make your voice heard.
If this is indeed a watershed moment fertile for the fruits of real Change, Barack Obama is not going to pull it off on his own.