Daily Planet, May 2018
My wife doesn’t complain when I sing around the house. In fact, I think she gauges my mood by my songs. For a few days now, I’ve been singing Maureen McGovern’s powerful #1 hit from 1973:
There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on lookin’ for the light
My wife knows all too well the sad plight of national and North Carolina politics. I think she wonders at the sound of my optimism.
The Washington swamp that Donald Trump promised to drain has instead become a sewage retaining pond. He’s desperate to stop investigations into the secret sins of his sorry life, while scandals among his people pop like Chinese firecrackers. Sewage sludge might be too tame an analogy.
For perspective, the Teapot Dome Scandal of the early 1920s, the worst before Watergate, was run-of-the-mill bribery. President Harding’s interior secretary leased oil reserves to Sinclair Oil on favorable, but legal, terms – except that he got big money in the deal. Teapot Dome wouldn’t even make front pages today.
Meanwhile, our Republican Congress gives huge tax breaks to big corporations, promising they will pass on profits to their employees, and instead they buy back their stock and employee wages don’t rise.
And here in North Carolina, we’ve watched Republicans trash our schools, our environment and our elections for seven years – reduced to watching because gerrymandering makes our votes worthless.
We’re not shrugging. We’re enraged. The vision of our Founding Fathers stood strong for 230 years. Now, so quickly, in Washington and Raleigh, we feel democracy slipping away.
Doom and gloom? No. Let’s continue on with my song:
Oh, can’t you see the morning after
It’s waiting right outside the storm…
It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time
I embrace Maureen McGovern’s prophecy for our time. “It’s not too late!”
All the Washington garbage, all the Raleigh garbage, there’s a landfill for all of it. What Trump has done can be undone. All the gnarly devices Raleigh Republicans used to seize and keep power can be straightened into fresh democracy.
This trash pickup is inevitable. It will happen. And the reason is us. Us! We’re voters who will vote, but we’re more than that. We’re heirs to the irrepressible American spirit that goes back to our beginnings – the spirit of freedom and fairness that resisted King George, the spirit the Founding Fathers assumed would be in us forever when they designed our government. And now, we, the people, say to those who would corrupt and disdain it, “Enough!”
Democrats will win this year and in 2020, in part, because they’re not Republicans. We can hope they will govern precisely as Republicans have not governed – with fairness and humility. We can hope they will resist divisive ideology. We can hope they will resist the grasping hand of power.
I have a wild hope that Democrats, in Washington and in the states, will require our representatives to attend seminars on our nation’s founding principles. Maureen McGovern uses the word “love.” That may be asking too much. But let’s remember that convention delegates in Philadelphia in 1787 crafted our magnificent Constitution, through compromise, in spite of their differences, because they believed in America.
I can see the “morning after, bright and beautiful. It’s out there waiting for patriots like us to “put our hands [to work] in time.”