Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hope in Haggard

I’ve had this feeling in the last few months that the worm has finally turned -- America is sick of this right-wing, neo-conservative ideology that has taken over their government. Obviously, something changed in the last election. Democrats picked up enough seats (barely) to regain control of the Congress. But still, it didn’t seem like a genuine change of heart.

My favorite columnist, Paul Krugman, has started using the term “populist” a lot.

”Last week’s populist wave, among other things, vindicates the populist direction that Al Gore took in the closing months of the 2000 campaign. But will this wave be reflected in the actual direction of the Democratic Party?”

But Paul Krugman isn’t exactly the figure you’d come up with when thinking of the term “populist.” American isn’t populated by economists from New Jersey. So imagine my surprise (and delight) when I read this article in Time magazine.

Does Merle Haggard Speak for America?

”But Haggard's greatest complaint is a matter of pride--and pride, in his hardscrabble past and his country, has always been his favorite song. "The thing that gets under my skin most about George W. is his intention to install fear in people," he said, after walking me down a hallway lined with gold and platinum records. "This is America. We're proud. We're not afraid of a bunch of terrorists. But this government is all about terror alerts and scaring us at airports. We're changing the Constitution out of fear. We spend all our time looking up each other's dresses. Fear's the only issue the Republican Party has. Vote for them, or the terrorists will win. That's not what Reagan was about. I hate to think about our soldiers over in Iraq fighting for a country that's slipping away.“”

I’m not trying to hold Merle up as some kind of role model -- I don’t even think Merle tries to hold himself up as a role model -- but he’s about as “real” as a famous person can be in America. And he does have an uncanny ability to tap into America’s heart. If Merle is writing songs for Hillary Clinton, something has definitely changed in America. Here’s hoping that Haggard is onto something.

Don Brown
October 27, 2007

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