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Singing (r)Evolutions The American Commitment to Democracy, Part I

Last Word | November 12th, 2020

By Charlie Barber

“Be as courageous as you can – If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die under tyranny.”- Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny, #20

“We are the Folk Song Army, Everyone of us cares;

We all hate poverty, war, and injustice, unlike the rest of you squares…

So join in the Folk Song Army, Guitars are the weapons we bring,

To fight against poverty, war and injustice. Ready! Aim! Sing!” - Tom Lehrer, 1965

“For years, say the Balts (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), singing is all that the authorities have allowed them. Singing had always been a relief during the yeass of Tsarist and Soviet oppression. The Estonians called the (Bolshevik) October (1917) revolution the Revolver Revolution; theirs is the Singing Revolution. ‘Singing…is our greatest power.’”- Clare Thomson, The Singing Revolution: A Journey Through the Baltic States, 1992

“When (Vladimir) Putin said the breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century, it wasn’t because he loved communism. It was because Russia’s stature had been destroyed…(Russians) are the most fatalistic people on the face of the earth, which is why they’re willing to live under lousy leaders…Putin is a terrible racist, as we all know. All Russians are, generally.” - (Trump’s Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson, quoted in Bob Woodward, Rage

“…what is often forgotten is that (William Buckley’s) National Review began as basically a well-educated-racist publication. ‘(The) National Review believes that the (segregationist, Jim Crow) South’s premises are correct…It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by (“)civilized(“) standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.’”– Stuart Stevens, It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

“Even before the (2020) election, MAGA (Trump’s Make America Great Again) rapidly was turning into MAAA – Make America Alone Again. Tragic events of the 20th century taught our grandparents that isolationism not only doesn’t work, it destroys the economies of those nations that practice it. And 250 years ago, Adam Smith demonstrated the failures of mercantilism. Now we will learn these lessons for ourselves.” - Ed Lotterman, Bismarck Tribune, November 7, 2020

“It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings. All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice.” - George Orwell, 1984

Awarded and [Projected] Electoral College vote, 2020: Joe Biden (D) – 279 [306]; Donald Trump (R) – 214 [232]

“He who dances on freedom’s grave shouldn’t expect it to come rushing to his aid.” – Éric Vuillard

Now comes the hard part. Making it through January 20, 2021; and, of course, beginning the repair job of Trump’s four years, and the Republican Party’s 40 years of wrecking the government of, by, and for the people. The patience required of waiting for the legal vote counting to deliver the Presidency to Joe Biden, over the ranting and raving of tiny tyrant Trump, will be nothing compared to patience required of Democrats, Independents and Lincoln Project Republicans, talking with PTSD (Post Trump Stress Disordered) Republicans in Congress and supermarkets.

One encouraging sign for me was noticing a Trump embossed flu mask on one of his supporters in Bismarck, ND, the mask-less capitol of medical-science-denying-lunacy in the country, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, renowned “in house, mad house” ally of Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Another encouraging sign was watching “responsible media” patiently take Americans through the process of ballot counting that is the essence of our democracy, and familiar to anyone who has taken citizenship seriously enough to be a judge of election and/or credentialed poll watcher. “Founding Fathers Federalism” at its best, with the Secretaries of all 50 States calling the shots, not the Presidential blowhard in the White House, and his adoring acolytes in the professionally prevaricating alternative universe of what is now the “real fake news.” Judging from reactions around the Free World, they are glad to have the United States back among living democracies – hopefully wiser from the experience of seeing our historical hypocrisies close up. We can still be an inspiration to the world, now that we have dared to be an inspiration to ourselves.

In the Summer of 1983, I was singing with the German American Singers of Chicago for the Mayor of Stuttgart, Manfred Rommel. In between songs, our chorus brought him and his City “greetings” from our Mayor, Harold Washington, the first black mayor in Chicago’s history, and a political role model for America’s first black President, Barack Obama. Mayor Rommel visibly beamed at the mention of one of the few political names in that year that gave Europeans hope that America was still sticking to liberal values in support of democracy. Mayor Rommel, known for his own liberal democratic views and sense of humor, was the son held hostage, when Hitler demanded that his father, General Erwin Rommel, commit suicide in the aftermath of the failed assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944, with which the Reichsmarschall was implicated.

Unlike the sympathetic movie portrayal of the General in such films as the “The Desert Fox,” Erwin Rommel was actually an enthusiastic Nazi supporter, like most young, ambitious Prusso-German/Wehrmacht officers of his day, until the very end. They saw their loyalties to be to their Army and, eventually, to their Fuehrer, not to a Constitution, such as has been the norm in the United States, so far. Military courage has existed in abundance for centuries in both countries, but civil courage had been in all too short supply in German history, until West Germany became a lynchpin for democracy in the Cold War. Civil courage in American history wasn’t always visible either, and it came at serious cost. It has come to the fore thankfully, but in full measure of blood and suffering, when the times demanded it: at the onset of our Republic, 1776-1791; our Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1876, during the Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, World War II, 1941-1945, and in the Cold War and Civil Rights struggles from 1945 to the present day.

This time, the Presidency of Donald Trump, 2017-2021, has put the civil courage of Americans in general, and the U.S. Military and Civil Service in particular, to one of their most serious tests ever. By all accounts, from Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and nameless postal workers to countless demonstrators against racial injustice, such civil courage has held and spread. Of great concern, however, are not so much the frightened, angry, and hidebound 70+ million voters who stayed in the Republican Party column. It is, instead, the collection of knowledgeable cowards, unreconstructed scoundrels, and flat out fools who have been willing to serve the tiny tyrant Trump, and his sociopathic agenda. From 1933-1945, it only took about one million of committed 3rd Reich Germans out of a population of 80 million otherwise, “very fine people,” to produce the Nazi horror. I sought advice from my KGB animal friends on what it took for presumably bright folks to be so dim and dark as the dimmest and darkest among them.

High Plains Reader: I understand that the grievances which have driven Trump supporters are, in many cases, just as justified as those of us who loathe him, but there are no such excuses for fat cats like Attorney General William Barr, FOX News hate merchants or Republican Party leadership whose money bags are overflowing with profits from organizing fear and loathing. Is it just lust for money and power that explains their behavior?

Putin: What else? American voters can only deal with one fraud at a time. Give them credit for nailing the one that threatened them the most. It takes time to defeat decades of deceit and denial.

Rasputin: As Stuart Stevens explains, so called conservatives in the Republican Party, like pundit William Buckley and Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), long before FOX News and Facebook, have been organizing race and class hatreds for fun and profit going back to the 1950s, at precisely the time that Democrats were getting ashamed enough of themselves to clean up their act a little bit. Two steps forward, one step back is better than the other way around.

HPR: Shouldn’t it be more obvious who the fraudulent populists are?

Agatha Alligator: Why should it be? We alligators just wanted a clean swamp, but political morons said they wanted to drain a perfectly healthy ecosystem, after they’d already polluted it. How can anybody see through their fog of propaganda that pollutes the political ecosystem?

Mr. Swamp Fox: As long as white folks of every gender are fearful that people of color will behave as badly towards them as they and their racist forebears have performed over the centuries, the Republican Party will not be held accountable at the polls to the degree that a divine judgment might require.

Madame Inspector Chen: And as long men of every color continue to fear that women will justifiably clean their clocks for their remarkably stupid behavior, male chauvinism will be alive and well in the Republican Party, though its days are certainly numbered among the Democrats.

Lena: Whiney complaints of dried up pundits about the dancing joy of black women like Vice President Elect Kamala Harris, given a well-earned place at the table of power by that old white working class gentleman, President Elect Joe Biden, miss the point. In the darkness of their elitist resentments, they fail to see that women are the mothers of us all and belong in power.

Chicago Dog: Meanwhile, the counterfeit Moses who continues to lead fearful Republicans into the “unfulfilled-promised land,” decided to play golf on the day that American voters rejected dictatorship, real and fancied, that his disastrous, spoiled brat Presidency has brought you.

HPR: It is amazing how “count all the votes” has the ring of freedom about it, even coming out of the mouths of Republicans who did their damnedest to make sure that would not happen. It has the feel of the recent impeachment trial, except that the American people decided to impeach a tyrant themselves rather than punish the craven Republican Senators who refused to do it.

Mr. Crying Wolf: Democracy is such a messy, but miraculous business, but as long as the rule of law, and procedural justice is not beyond even the most conservative of judges, there is hope.

Prudence Possum: Swamp creatures once again overheard “Benito” Bill Barr, Trump’s Badass Barracuda Barrister (B-6th Power) lecturing Trump’s Chief of Staff, “Mindless” Mark Meadows (3-M) on the facts of political life in America, which Meadows seems reluctant to explain to his petulant Crybaby-in-Chief.

B-6th Power: Give up Mark! The Donald is toast. You’ve got Covid, and need an exit strategy. You’d better hope that the contractor for the walls you built outside the White House is not the dude from Dickinson, North Dakota, whose wall seems to be falling into the Rio Grande. They do know what to do out there with Covid-19 relief money, however: Frack for more oil and gas.

Corporate welfare at its best; robbing the poor and middle class and giving to the rich, while blaming them at the same time for their poverty and degradation.

3-M: Wow! Corporate Socialism! That sounds like the kind of corrupt Republican hideaway I can believe in. I also hear the good citizens in western North Dakota preferred to elect a dead Republican over a live Democrat to their legislature, and that Governor Doug “Boss” Burgum just appointed a crony from the coal industry to fill the spot. Chicago’s Mayor Daley must be spinning in his grave from jealousy!

B-6th Power: It might not be so rosy for you Mark. North Dakotans from both Parties still revere the dead President, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, much more than they do the “living dead” Republican currently infecting the West Wing with Covid-19. Teddy ran as a—gasp—Progressive! And worse, as a monopoly busting crusading Regulator, demanding actual competition in the marketplace! He even invited Booker T. Washington to the White House.

3-M: Right! Teddy was only just racist towards Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians. Worse than that, he was the author of the first meaningful Green New Deal: The National Park System.

B-6th Power: So, as you see, Mark, even in Red North Dakota, it might be possible that a President like Joe Biden will find a lot of people there who agree with Blue California, that they don’t like dictators in any form; whether they come from the private or the public sector.

Prudence Possum: As Badass Bill and Mindless Mark commiserated that Trump’s overt dictatorial behavior had exposed their covert dictatorial intentions, a memorial poem slipped out from among long suffering civil servants and postal workers that made it to our swamp friends:

Dictators Beware! The coils of American Democracy are Relentless!.....................................Headless Horseman

“Don’t tread on me!” – The snake was wont to say;

As it became a sign of freedom’s song;

Not sure of what was right or truly wrong,

Yet still a foe of dictatorial sway.

An oligarchic charmer tried to be

A King, for all Americans to dote

Upon his royal crookedness, and vote

According to the fantasies he’d see.

Alas, the Wizard lost his OZ; and more—

He fell into the snake’s determined coil

Of democratic processes and laws.

He could no longer flaunt; despite his roar

Of futile struggle; now a helpless foil

Of fates that showed the fulsome fraud he was.

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