Chris Saxman: Battle of the Cover Bands

Politics today is a contest over outdated and simplified ideas when we need real solutions that seek our national greatness. The classics bind, entertain, and sadly distract us from the present.

Ever listened to a live cover band that is cranking out awesome hits that the entire crowd absolutely loves and just at the peak of the sweaty, dance frenzy the lead singer just HAS to reach for his acoustic guitar while he leans into the microphone meaningfully saying, “Thank you! Thank you! Now, we’d like to play one of our new songs. I hope you enjoy it….”

That song is about as popular as a fart in an elevator and people are scrambling to get the heck away from it. People are trampled as the crowd either goes to the bar or the bathroom. But his girlfriend JUST LOVES the lyrics. Whatever dude….

Cover bands play great music. Other People’s Music.

There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, without great cover bands weddings would be left with DJs, college would be reduced to weekend drinking games that would end early and badly, and fewer bands would be around to come up with their own new songs that have a Lottery level chance of becoming a hit that will be covered in the future.

That’s the market, right? Some kids get together and start experimenting with song and lyrics that are not theirs and they get comfortable. Book a few gigs, make some money, and maybe get a following. Then they get bored and go – hey, how about we write our own songs?

The same thing holds true for politicians. Candidates decides to run and they start playing the hits – pro-life/pro-choice, no new taxes/ “invest”, 2nd amendment/gun control. Then they get some traction and start nibbling away at some ideas but nothing too complex, just an extension of their political roots.

Think early Rolling Stones, pre-Yoko Beatles, and late 70s Bruce Springsteen.

Politics today seems to the Battle of the Cover Bands. Classics being replayed over and over and over.

Sit around the holiday table and take note of what is discussed. What do people care about when their world is shrunk to those closest to them?

That’s where most ideas for our nation’s future should start. That’s where most people lives truly exist.

Watching the HBO documentary “Crossfire Hurricane” about the Rolling Stones is a testament to that reality. Here was this band playing rock and roll with its soulful roots driving the kids into a frenzy. And not a happy frenzy. The adults had no idea what was going on with all these clean cut kids. What were they really thinking?

The Stones left their cover tunes and wrote songs that struck deep chords and today they are going strong 50 years later.

Ronald Reagan did the same thing 36 years ago in 1976 and barely lost the GOP nomination to Gerald Ford.

Republican candidates usually start out with “I’m a Reagan conservative…insert cover tune….please vote for me!”  Party folks love that. Politicians are George Costanza smart enough to never to play their own tunes and they certainly never discuss Reagan’s tax raising, amnesty for illegals, or his budget deficits.  They don’t.

They also gloss over Reagan’s one true political greatness – he liked everybody. A lot.

Nice goes along way in politics. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes makes them like you back. Reagan had that unique quality. He wasn’t afraid, clearly, to disagree with his opponents but he always seemed to genuinely like them as a human being. That was Reagan’s greatness – at least to me.

Candidates today love to identify themselves with other people’s ideas and successes. There is not one thing bad or wrong about that. Cover bands work and always will.

Greatness demands trying out one’s own tunes applying one’s philosophical and ideological roots to today’s pressing problems.

The Soviet Union is dead, but the federal government balance sheet is maybe more deadly.

Pensions are obligated but unfunded. Entitlements are promised but unfunded.

Bottled water, braiding hair, and Big Gulps are regulated or outlawed but derivatives are not.

Small banks are getting crushed, Big Banks have over 50% of the money. George Bailey is losing badly to Mr. Potter.

Infrastructure is crumbling while our federal government is financing payroll with Chinese currency which our federal government thinks is intentionally devalued by the same Chinese.

To my many friends who are seeking statewide office or are in federal office –  this holiday season I would ask that you write your own songs. Write songs that people really care about with lyrics that strike deep chords in our souls which connect us back to a hopeful future.

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