Vote Courageously in November

Make this your personal campaign song for 2010.

The primaries are over and indicators suggest that Americans are fed up with politics as usual. Polls show that roughly half of Americans distrust both major political parties. From where I sit, this is encouraging. The next step is to stop whining and actually do something to fix American politics.

First and foremost, you actually have to exercise your franchise rights. Is it just me, or are 100% of Americans bitching about everything when more than half can’t be bothered to vote? If you can’t get off your butt to vote, shut up!

If you dislike both parties, don’t vote for them. Enough with the Tea Party crap already. Let’s call that what it is—narcissism with a Republican face. The Tea Party is just a bunch of whining pampered white suburbanites wallowing in privilege and crying about their tax bills. If you think these people are going to change a damn thing you’re seriously deluded. The only difference between the Tea Party and the existing GOP is that the Palin crowd is more boorish. The GOP is the party that created the deficit and it’s also a party of Big Government that pretends to be anti-government. Who do you think authored bloated military budgets, sent us to war, gave handouts to Corporate America, and opened Fort Knox for the rich? If you really stand for self-reliance, want a smaller government, and want America to withdraw from the world, have the courage of your convictions. Come November the party for you is the Libertarian ticket.

But while I’m on the subject, liberals telling me I have to vote for Democrats to save the nation have sorely exhausted my patience. Let me put it even more bluntly—a party that depends on slime balls like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to stay in power isn’t going to induce any tears from me if they lose it. The Democrats have done a lousy job of governing, in part because they behave like the Republicans they desperately want to scare you into thinking are worse. If you call yourself a progressive and you’re still married to the Democrats, you’re just as deluded as those who think that the Tea Party is populist. Get some spine people and cast your vote where your principles lie. Go Green.

Before you vote for anyone, get educated not indoctrinated. Turn off the TV talking heads. You need to elect candidates, not soundbites. Haven’t you figured it out yet? The self-proclaimed pundits are in the entertainment business; they’re not political scientists. Rush Limbaugh is to politics what Jerry Springer is to serious sociology—a splashy circus spectacle utterly devoid of content. Enough with the soundbites! Find out what candidates actually stand for, not what some bloviating poltroon tells you.

After you vote, hold your elected officials accountable. Many states have recall rights that allow citizens to rid themselves of officials who defy the public will. This is a seldom-used privilege that ought to be trotted out more often. Engage in grassroots democracy. In addition to recall, many states also have initiative and referendum laws that allow the electorate to put items directly on the ballot and vote on them independently of what elected officials wish. Democracy was always meant to be about the people, not the pols. People Power is the surest route to creating responsible government.


Eric Clapton DVD Revealing

Eric Clapton

The 1960s Review

Sexy Intellectual 559, 2010, 120 minutes

* * * *

In 1963, Eric Clapton was little known outside of Surrey clubs; four years later “Clapton is God” graffiti was sprayed all over English walls. A fascinating new DVD tells the tale of Clapton’s meteoric rise through the 1960s groups he graced: The Yardbirds, John Mayall & the Bluesbfreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith. It is a portrait of a man with a wanderlust spirit obsessed to the point of intolerance by American-style blues. Clapton was such a purist that he left The Yardbirds after its monster hit “For Your Love” because he deemed it inauthentic and commercial. He made a big splash with The Yardbirds, which turned into a tidal wave when he joined forces with John Mayall. Indeed, the Clapton bandwagon was so mighty that Mayall—a man known for having an outsized ego—was forced to give Clapton equal billing. This did not prevent Clapton from leaving the Bluesbreakers in 1966 to form my personal favorite band of the 1960s: Cream. With drummer Ginger Baker and bass player/vocalist Jack Bruce, Cream singlehandedly defined the power-rock trio.

The film is earnest in showing Clapton coming to grips with his own white skin. Apparently Jimi Hendrix was the catalyst. When Hendrix came to England, Clapton was gobsmacked by his raw energy. Several of Clapton’s colleagues speculate that he and other British blues players came to understand the difference between playing black and being black. There is a stunning sequence in the film with Hendrix playing “Voodoo Child” with a passion that borders primal—Hendrix never rivaled Clapton for technique, but neither could Clapton hope to match Jimi’s emotion. Clapton moderated his obsession and broadened his repertoire, but he did not quell his restless spirit, quitting both Cream and Blind Faith when they topped the charts. The balance between interviews with colleagues and concert footage makes this a true portrait of an artist with heavenly talent. The only missing elements are more from Clapton himself—who is surprisingly little seen as a talking head—and a copy editor to get rid of that god-awful misplaced apostrophe on the box!