Whether you vote or not, you know that every political campaign is built on inflated expectations, negativity, and resentment. This year in the U.S. it’s no different, except that the campaign to “throw the bums out” began the day Obama took the oath of office. Yes, it’s one of the pitfalls of politics that campaigns get heated, people form really narrow opinions of the opposition, and those who pay attention to these things often nail bite and worry that if they other side wins, the country will go to hell in a bucket. But there’s a catch: the Constitutional framework demands that the warring factions compromise with each other to move legislation forward. If they don’t, well, you have gridlock, shutdowns, and and ineffective government that makes people even more pissed off. Why do we vote for extreme candidates when the system is set up for compromise? Have you ever tried to compromise with someone who is so inflexible that it’s “my way or the highway?” Not much fun, eh? Well, imagine 535 people working in a couple of chambers who are, at times, just as inflexible. No matter how you voted in the midterm elections in the U.S., I thought I would put together a little mix that tries to capture a little bit of the emotions people are feeling today.
Vote, baby, vote!
“The Politics of Dancing,” Re-Flex (Download)
Back in 1983, it was kind of futuristic to hear the lyric “The politicians are now DJs.” Just take a listen to AM talk radio or watch the 24 talking heads nowadays and you’ll see that Re-Flex – a one hit wonder band in the U.S. – was quite prescient.
“Electioneering,” Radiohead (Download)
“When I go forwards/You go backwards.” Gee, cynical much? But hey, what good is it living in a democracy if you can’t bitch and moan about the government, eh? Radiohead certainly captures the frustration people feel when they are asked for their vote, and then politicians start to take action or represent interests that don’t fit with your politics. Considering the lyrics, I’m surprised Radiohead didn’t have the word “hypocrite” in parentheses in this song title.
“Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” Warren Zevon (Download)
For Zevon, foreign policy is often made through that political trifecta of lawyers, guns and money — though not necessarily in that order. Yes, it’s a political song, but reading the Wiki on this tune made me realize how much of an impact it has made in the popular culture. My favorite is the “greatest hits” of robots, bears, and Abe Lincoln on Late Night with Conan O’Brien:
“Mr. November,” the National (Download)
Anyone coming into office on the democratic wishes of those who elected him/her never wants to be known as a sell-out, but there’s something that strikes the keynote in “Mr. November” when it comes to that inevitable point when a politician breaks the hearts of their voters. Sure it’s a noble sentiment when one says “I won’t fuck you over,” but it seems it’s bound to happen at some point.
“Election Day,” Arcadia (Download)
Lyrically, this song has very little to do with elections — and come to think of it, are there many lyrics by Duran Duran that have anything to do with their song titles? “New Moon on Monday?” Nope. “Union of the Snake?” Um, no. So, it stands to reason that a song by an off-shoot Duran Duran band wouldn’t be any less opaque, huh.
“James K. Polk,” They Might Be Giants (Download)
How many history lessons do you get from a song in just a little over three minutes? Not many, but They Might Be Giants really summarize Polk’s presidency right up to his pledge that he would only serve one term — which is good because he died of cholera three months after leaving office.