Dinosaur Jr.--"Start Choppin'" (mp3)
Even though John McCain and I are about 20 years apart in age, I feel like we're both looking at this election from the perspective of the 1960's.
For him, it seems to be about his own awful years in a prison camp and about being part of a war that we did not win and about being a (not so) hotshot fighter pilot who leads with his bravado and about surrounding himself with attractive women and about still seeing the world through the lens of the good guys vs. the Communists. McCain begins so many of his assertions with "I know how to...." that you'd think he was the genie from the Mr. Clean commercial or some other magic world where wars are easy to win and economies are easy to fix and the problems of people's lives can be solved by calling them "My friends." The McCain 60's are in many ways like the tv show Mad Men where chasing tail is the ultimate goal and products and dreams are advertised and sold with no particular interest in whether you or anyone else believes in them. It's all simply a matter of figuring out what people think they want and finding a way to give it to them or to convince them that they need it.
As always, when we look back at the past, those seem like simpler times, even though they weren't.
How ironic that television, that medium that made advertising king, also showed us far too much of the Vietnam War and destroyed our faith in America's ability to "fix" everything the way John McCain wants to now. Yes, the Bush administration was able to once again sell us a false bill of goods in Iraq, but based on this pattern, at least we've got about 40 years before the societal amnesia kicks in again.
For me, coming to the 60's a few years too late, I'm feeding off of a different kind of mysticism. Not brave enough or in touch enough to be the kid wearing the black armband for the Moratorium in 1969, not radical enough to be the kid in sixth grade who refused to stand for or to say The Pledge of Allegiance, I became enamored of the 60's through the music and the movement. I still want the 1960's dream of the Youngblood's "Get Together" and the promise of the Civil Rights movement and the vision of an America that must be traveled to be believed and to be understood. I still want the America where you could somehow point out the corruption and the cynicism through an optimistic lense, sitting upon a tripod of activism and awareness and belief that something could be done. I've never forgotten that there was an America that turned firehoses and police dogs on its citizens, that sent out the National Guard with loaded weapons to kill protesters. So, yeah, I'm kinda skewed and, yeah, hippie bullshit, I know.
But, that's the 60's for you. And that's where I think John McCain and I are coming from. Nixon gave him "Peace With Honor" when he wanted to win and he can't get past that; Nixon gave me "Peace With Honor" but by then I had become a teen and it was the '70's and I knew we never should have been fighting in the first place.
A student asked me today why I am voting for Obama. I told him it was because of a single issue. "I was opposed to the war from the start," I told him. "And, though with less certainty, Obama has been opposed to it, too." I know the war is off of the radar right now, but that's what's driven me for the last 6 years when I thought it was wrong and now I still think it's wrong and I don't believe in surges or anything else that the ad men have to sell me about it. I guess that I'm still a child of the 60's.
Both Dinosaur Jr. songs come from the CD, Where You Been? available at Itunes. May they rock Obama to victory.