Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Better Day Will Come

Every so often I get inspired to write a song (there were a few years in my life when I wrote dozens, but in recent years, one or two or year is all that come). But I was in a music rich environment--the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, better known as Clifftop, among old-time musicians last week. It's an amazing experience at Camp Washington Carver in the hills of Fayette County, WV where every year thousands of musicians who play fiddles, banjos, guitars, and assorted other string and non-string instruments gather for 10 days of camping, jamming, dancing, and competing in individual and band contests. My brain was full of music, and I wrote four new melodies. One of them was especially beautiful, not just in my opinion, but in the opinion of several who heard and played it. I was asked what the title was, and answered, I don't know, but it feels hopeful. When I play it, I keep thinking that it's saying a better day will come. "That's your title," he replied.

The morning I was packing to leave, words to it started coming to mind, and as I drove, I sang into my i-Phone. In the next couple weeks I plan to record a simple version of it, but I hope I can convince other musicians to record it as well. I could imagine it being orchestrated or being played by a rock band, a string band, or an acapella choir. Here are the lyrics:

A Better Day Will Come
by Paul Epstein ©2017
We are frightened. He is ignorant and rude.
They are threatening our whole way of life. 
We’re resisting. We are marching in the streets.
We are ready for a long and brutal fight.

Take my hand. Give your heart.
We don’t know where this will end, but we must start.
For the good of all, we’ll find a way.
We must believe that there will come a better day.

We are angry. We want justice for all.
We should make the wealthy pay their share.
There’s corruption going right to the top.
We will fight for our rights and what is fair

Decent jobs, living wage,
We need health care for all without delay.
Get out the vote, make calls, or pray
We must believe that there will come a better day

Take my hand. Give your heart.
We don’t know where this will end, but we must start.
For the good of all, we’ll find a way.
We must believe that there will come a better day.



Friday, June 16, 2017

Out, Out Damn Trump!

Here we are, five months into a presidency that may last another 3.5 years or longer. Any hope we had that Mr. Trump would actually lead the country responsibly are gone, and many around the world wonder what kind of place the U.S. and the world will be after his term. I think we must consider impeachment. It could result from any number of “high crimes and misdemeanors” Trump may have committed, including but not limited to collusion with a foreign government to sway our election, accepting money or favors from foreign governments or businesses and possibly granting return favors, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, or something we can’t even imagine at this point. 

In the recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with Jeff Sessions, Republican Senator Tom Cotton asked him if he liked spy novels and then expressed skepticism about the lines of questioning by Democrats, asking, ”Have you ever…heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting United States senator and an ambassador of a foreign government colluded in an open setting with hundreds of other people…?”

They had a good laugh. But I didn’t. I have frequently said and heard scholars of U.S. history say recently, “you can’t make this stuff up,” or “this is the stuff of spy novels,” or “anyone who wrote a novel in which a preposterous character like Donald Trump gets elected president couldn’t find a publisher.” Unprecedented has probably become the most used word in media these days.

I would like to engage in my own penchant for writing fiction and send a message from an imaginary centrist Trump supporter who has decided he or she made a mistake.

“I believed him when he promised he would make America great again. I believed him when he said he would put Democrats and Republicans in a room and make them solve problems, I believed he would repeal and replace Obamacare with something better that would cost less, bring back all kinds of great jobs, rebuild our infrastructure. I believed we would have such an economic boom that he could cut taxes and still have money for tax cuts and infrastructure projects without raising the debt. I believed him when he said he would protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

“But now I’m beginning to understand that his exaggerations and boasting are something more than campaign strategy. I don’t see how he could claim that the House health care bill, which the CBO said would cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance could be the “great plan” he said it was. Now he calls it “mean.” So I wonder what the Senate will come up with and how much less “mean” that will be. Does that mean it will only kick half as many off their insurance? Will we really be covered for pre-existing conditions? And during the campaign he railed against Wall Street and said he would go after hedge fund managers and make them pay their fair share. But I haven’t heard anything about that since, and now there’s a bill to roll back the protections they passed after the financial crisis of 2008. 

“I know in his first couple weeks he made a big deal about calling some CEO’s and talking about keeping jobs in the U.S., and maybe he helped save a few jobs, and the economy seems to be humming along, but it doesn’t seem much different than it was in the last few years. We’ll see. But when you combine all that with some of the crazy tweets and the way he just goes after everybody, including Comey, who, you know is a pretty straight shooter, and now supposedly Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating him, well, it just seems like he must be hiding something to be so afraid of just letting them do their jobs.”

Yeah, I know, it’s fiction. Trump supporters for the most part are die hards wearing blinders and reading, listening to, and watching the media that reinforces their belief in Trump. But actually only about 38% percent of voters view him favorably (according to FiveThirtyEight.com), down from a high of 48% after the election. So, perhaps, before the 2018 mid-terms, Republicans in Congress will decide he’s more of a liability than an asset and start impeachment proceedings. If not, the other 50-60% of us better get to the polls and elect a Congress that will.