Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Charlottesville, Cabaret, 2016 Election

It's been far too long since I've updated this thing, and a lot has happened since May 2016.  A few recent things have compelled me to write, so here goes:

I haven't written or said much publicly since Donald Trump was elected last November, and at times I still feel like I'm in a state of disbelief.  Throughout the campaign season, I said time and time again, "We're not that stupid."  "We won't vote him in."  I even foolishly thought at times that Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination would turn a sufficient number of Republicans off to help Hillary or Bernie win the election.

I remember watching in disbelief as the results unfolded on November 8th of last year and wondering how the FUCK we could vote someone in whose hair-trigger temper and Twitter fingers could trigger foreign powers that have the capability to nuke us (look at what's happening with North Korea today)?  Someone who mocked an autistic reporter on the campaign trail?  Someone who appointed people to Cabinet posts with the intent of bastardizing the very organizations they would head up?  Someone who objectifies women and tries to save face by referring to it as "locker room" talk?  Someone who clearly does not see ALL people as equal and deserving of the same basic human rights and protections?  Those are but a few examples.

I know several people all across the political spectrum, and I have not been able to fathom what could inspire ANYONE to excuse ANY of the above and find it the "lesser of two evils" compared to another candidate.  The Democratic candidates were not perfect, and I was not 100% in love with any of them.  But NONE would have done ANY of what I described above, and certainly not the two that made it the farthest in the race.  I would like to think that those I know who voted for Trump take issue with ALL of the above, and I have faith that that is true, as I see good in them as people.  I really, really hope I'm right.  Part of our job as voting citizens is to make it clear when we're unhappy with our elected officials, so I'd go so far as to challenge any Trump voters I know to make one of the following two choices.  Choice one:  Make it clear through your actions that NONE of what I described above is tolerable from ANYONE, much less an elected official.  Choice two:  Disassociate from me until you find it in yourself to make choice one.  I welcome diversity in every sense, including opinions.  But I don't associate with people who don't view ALL people as equals, or who think any of what I described in the previous paragraph is excusable in a President.

Also, for quite some time, I have questioned the relevance of the Electoral College.  From what I understand, it was designed to ensure that candidates would visit small states on the campaign trail.  Sure, for the first part of our country's history, I can understand that.  However, the internet is now a thing, and it is very widely available on mobile devices and in free public libraries.  Information is out there, and people in small states can access it just as easily as people in large states.  While I'm sure what I mentioned above wasn't the ONLY rationale for the Electoral College, that particular rationale is no longer relevant.  And honestly, I struggle to see the point of something that doesn't serve a purpose other than to potentially distort the popular vote.  Think for a second about the possibility that, had a small handful of people (far fewer than the two million plus voter advantage that Hillary had) lived in another state, Trump would not have won the election.  That thought is sobering.  So is the possibility that a foreign power meddled in the election.  So is the reality that even if corruption is found to have happened, we can't simply go back for a re-do (which I feel is the ONLY fair correction in such a situation).  We live in a Democracy.  We need to ditch the archaic Electoral College, as it no longer serves a viable purpose in our society.

Either way, it happened.  The ball is now in our court to ensure that everything we have worked for over the past several hundred years, and especially recently, doesn't get lost.  Jason Robert Brown wrote a song called "Hope" the day after the 2016 election, and it helped me make some sense of the situation back then.  It also served as a reminder of how much stronger we, as people, are than we may think.  I had wanted to learn that song since it came out, and acquired the sheet music in January.  It came up in conversation with some friends a few days ago, and I revisited it the next day, as I felt it was still very relevant given the course of Trump's presidency thus far.

Barely after I had worked it out and made a pass at recording it (the final product can be found here), I looked at my Facebook feed and learned of the horror of what was happening in Charlottesville.  My sister and her fiancé lived in Charlottesville for three years, until a couple months ago.  Thank God they're now in New York.  I had been to Charlottesville three times within the last year.  It's a beautiful town.  There's a vibrant music scene (which spawned the Dave Matthews Band, one of my favorite musical groups).  That it could be overtaken by such a virulent display of racism, fascism, Nazism, and poison is beyond sickening.  I realized then that the song was far more relevant on that day (Saturday 8/12) than I had even thought.  It's disgusting that this shit is even a thing, and Saturday's events proved that it is alive and well, and I'm sure very largely responsible for the election of Trump to the White House.

I'm also currently music-directing a production of Cabaret.  I won't spoil the show for those who have yet to see it, but it takes place as the Nazis were rising to power in Germany.  The sheer relevance of the show in TODAY'S times is devastating, and there are far too many parallels between the show and our current situation.  Hopefully, the production, as well as other art/music/theater out there, will serve its purpose and help people understand the gravity of what's going on as well as what must be done to stop it.

There's no sugarcoating that the world is a massive shit-show right now.  It's also an incredibly beautiful place.  It's our job to bring the beauty back to the forefront and flush the shit away.  It's up to us to do what we can to stand up for what we believe is right, and to stand up for those who are not viewed as equals.  It's up to us to stand up TO those who don't view all people as equals and deserving of equal rights and protections, both in our personal circles and in our national leadership.  I plan to do my part through music and theatre, but there's a lot that can be done in many ways.

We, as people, are stronger than we may realize.  We're still here, in spite of what each of us has survived so far.  We can do it.

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