November 03, 2004

some perspective from Phil and Garnet

I was in Edinburgh, Scotland in April 1992 when the Conservatives were returned to power for their 4th term. Labour, led by Neil Kinnock, had been predicted to win a narrow majority. The day after, there was a surreal hush over the city; everyone looked like they'd been hit on the head with a big hammer.

I thought I knew how they felt at the time, but now I feel how they felt. If only I could be assured that the Republicans will go the way of the Tories, I might be able to bear the next four years.

I don't want to moan (the only thing more depressing than moaning about this election must be coming to a blog to read a stranger's moaning), but I'm not yet ready to rejoin the living. So here, as a placeholder, are the timeless observations of some other folks.
Hannah's in the highway cafe
Her eyes are on the TV screen
She says "Four more years," and shrugs her shoulders
"This country's turning mean."

And an aging actor fills the screen
His hands in triumph in the air
His eyes show sincerity, and emptiness
In the TV camera's glare

She said "I've seen elections come and go,
And there's one thing that's for sure,
There's just one thing this country won't forgive
And that's the sin of being poor."

Garnet Rogers: "Election Night: North Dakota" (1984)

It's not enough to know the world is absurd and restrict yourself merely to pointing out that fact.... It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make the attempt. That's morality, that's religion, that's art, that's life.

Phil Ochs, Broadside, 1965

I believe there is still something inherent in the fibre of America worth saving, and that the fortunes of the entire world may well ride on the ability of young Americans to face the responsibilities of an old America gone mad.

Phil Ochs, Village Voice, 1967

Ah but in such an ugly time the true protest is beauty.

Phil Ochs, liner notes, Pleasures of the Harbor (1967)