There’s hope for change if you’re uncomfortably numb because you have yet to “feel the Bern” among friends who do it effortlessly, early and often. Your best opportunity to rise to the occasion is to watch a video guaranteed to make a newcomer of a latecomer. Insert your earbuds appropriately and YouTube the “Bernie Sanders America” ad. If you feel goosebumps, inspiration and exuberance, send Bernie a check for, “Citizens United McMitigation.” You may review the promo for as many as four hours. Then you must get off immediately or risk irreversible damage to your hard drive.
The ad is a masterpiece for its soothing contrast with “the cacophony of (traditional) political ads,” according to The New York Times. “No speeches, no slurs, only the warm harmonies of Simon and Garfunkel singing ‘America.’” With a montage that celebrates citizens more than the candidate, the ad conveys the momentum of a movement, according to Ted Devine, Sanders’ senior strategist.
The 1968 tune, layered with meaning, has a rich and poignant history. It references Kathy (Chitty), also of “Kathy’s Song,” whose love inspired young Paul Simon’s meteoric rise. Ironically, international stardom shattered their comfort and solace. The romance that Simon, 74, cherished for its carefree splendor, ended as Chitty fled the traumatict crush of fans and journalists.
“America” is one of two songs David Letterman used to sing to his son, Harry, as a baby. Accordingly, last May, in the self-indulgent countdown to his retirement after 33 years of hosting “The Late Show,” Swedish sister folk duo First Aid Kit delivered it deep from the soul as luxuriated in the sweet synergy of their harmonies and the nostalgia of his early fatherhood.
Lucky for us, their most compelling performance of “America” (live at Polar Music Prize) is immortalized on YouTube. In the audience at Stockholm’s Concert Hall, Paul Simon watches, deep fried to his seat and then on his feet, as the sirens wrap their voices around a string orchestra to elevate his brainchild to the next level.
The song, as the soundtrack of the Sanders ad, invites us to discover the presence and absence of American ideals amid a surreal presidential campaign as well as recent scandals locally and statewide.
Pioneering prospects for the White House include a former first lady, a Jewish agnostic Democratic socialist, a brash celebrity billionaire, two U.S. Senators of Cuban extraction (one born in Canada), a soft-spoken, African-American neurosurgeon (retired) and a Republican governor who, as a consummate moderate, seems utterly unelectable.
Americans are furious and fearful (which go hand in hand) on multiple levels, and GOP front-runner Donald Trump is pandering to the maddest mob. While a diverse field would seem to telegraph merry multiculturalism, he’s an equal-opporunity offender who has trashed Hispanics as rapists, women as bleeding bimbos and Muslims as presumptive terrorists. He plans somehow to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants compassionately and bully a belligerent Mexico to pay for a proposed border wall.
Breathtaking riches don’t necessarily abort whoredom. Narcissism as big as Mars makes him insatiable for praise, which he has enthusiastically embraced from a nasty-ass, cold-blooded Russian and, just recently, a notorious white supremacist he reluctantly condemned too tepidly, too belatedy.
I’d rather have Archie Bunker at the helm. Archie’s as buffoonish as Donald but knows he’s not the smartest guy in the room. He second-guesses himself. When his ignorance collides with compassion, he relents.
Are we really rabid enough to pull this trigger? If this is a cockeyed idea whose time has come, we may as well commence the postmortem now.
Some are so accustomed to information encrusted in entertainment, they think they want this clown in the White House. Nobody can dispute that he’s riveting television. But it’s not quantum physics to bring controversy, drama, conflict or comedy. It’s a formula NBC paid him mega-bucks to perfect. But let’s face it: It’s as elementary as opening a trench coat.
I hope we’ll grow tired of his sideshow and retreat from Armageddon to common sense. Let Trump continue to exercise the power to fire “losers” and “horrible people” in the private sector. A hothead so eager to use military fire power to bomb the hell out of slippery, shrewd suicide bombers should be confined to his skyscraper-penthouse-asylum. Quiet, patient, deliberative diplomacy will always be incomprehensible and unspoken to a billionaire who wants his way now at any cost. God rest and keep him — far away from the situation room and the capacity for huge disasters.