Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Henry Rollins, Barack Obama, and the Ramones.

Several years ago I saw Henry Rollins do a spoken word show. He said: "Don't you wish you felt as strongly for the politicians you vote for as you feel about... Al Green... or the Ramones? Don't you wish when politicians speak you were just INTO every thing they said?" It struck me as very true, for my entire life, we voted AGAINST someone, not for. We never got that "Hell Yeah" feeling about a candidate as much as feeling "Hell NO!" about his opponent. When my father and step-mom were out here a couple years ago, I was relayed this idea to my dad. He agreed... not so much about the Ramones, but he got the gist.
I got an email from him week or so ago saying that he felt that way about Barack Obama. I knew then that Obama would win the election. My father was a poor small town southern kid growing up. He had no money, no influence, no way to get into college, and thus no way to avoid getting drafted into Viet Nam. He spent his entire tour fighting along side poor men of every color. So his views on race are fairly sophisticated, but thanks to the best efforts of the GOP he did have xenophobic concerns about Obama as early as last summer. The fact that the campaign was able to break through my father's 'concerns' as entrenched as he is in small town America once again, showed there is no one that they couldn't touch.
Going back a few years before. I was back in St. Louis, and the local a.m. radio station was interviewing a senatorial candidate from Illinois, and I was struck by the eloquence and passion with which this gentleman spoke. Fast forward to 2004 that same man, now the duly elected senator, is to speak at the Democratic convention, and I thought to myself "He's going to be the first black man elected president." I never dreamed it would be this soon.
Last night I sat on the couch with the wife, watching the folks at MSNBC fill state after state in with blue.
I watched the concession speech of worthy opponent John McCain, who I honestly feel the republicans threw under the bus. They knew the economy was tottering, that the war was an albatross. They knew that with Barack Obama's oratory skills, and Joe Biden's work ethic and strong catholic roots that this race was all but unwinnable. So they paired him up with Klondike Barbie, and threw him out there.
The acceptance speech gave me chills. The party atmosphere, the immense feeling of hope, the feeling of a weight lifted off, reminded me of the Berlin wall coming down. In Seattle, people were shooting off fireworks. Today really is a new day. Crusty old cynic that I am. As much as I have touted the old Jello Biafra quote "If voting could change anything it would be illegal." This feels different. Hundreds of thousands of people went to see his speech in Grant Park. They cheered and wept. It was a rock and roll crowd. Maybe Barack Obama is our Jack Kennedy, maybe he's Elvis, but finally I do feel as strongly about a man of political office as I do about my favorite band. That, my friends, is historic.
No training last night.. History being made instead.


Katie said...

well said. I was inspired by Obama's campaign early on as well, and was one of those weeping (happy tears) at the television when he gave his acceptance speech. I've actually got tickets to see Rollins tonight on his Recountdown tour, and I'm really looking forward to hearing what he's got to say.

J. B. said...

Thanks, and thanks for stopping by.
I'd be very interested to hear what he has to say as well.

Jesse said...

Very well put, JB. I have the exact same feeling. I think everyone does. It was just awesome to see people rally behind someone--anyone--so passionately.

Here's to good things to come.

Jesse said...

Thought I'd let you know that this post was quite the hit amongst the folks in Madison with whom I took the liberty of sharing it.

J. B. said...

Pink-o liberals the lot of you!!
Seriously though, thanks for thinking highly enough to share.
I might be out your way in the next few weeks for work.. more on that later.

Jesse said...


Definitely keep me posted on your travels. Me and Doc are going to Minneapolis for Thanksgiving, but otherwise will be in and around town and happy to provide refuge and maybe a workout or two.

J. B. said...

I'll take you up for sure. Still up in the air as to when, but should be before the end of the year. My brother lives up there too, so he'll garner some time, but at the very least I'll see you for a workout and a meal.

Michael said...

Brilliant comment! Been thinking about that rollins bit before, but you put it down really well. Thanks :D

Anonymous said...

Hey, I am checking this blog using the phone and this appears to be kind of odd. Thought you'd wish to know. This is a great write-up nevertheless, did not mess that up.

- David

J. B. said...

thanks for coming around. This blog has been around for quite some time and isn't formatted for some phones. If I had more time I would re-code it, but unfortunately it's not a priority right now.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to write.