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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
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  • Writer Login


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    sincerely

    My Country ‘Tis of Thee

    by | 3 | Feb 17, 2014

    The phenomenon of elderly people fixed with rapt and adoring attention on The Lawrence Welk Show used to totally baffle me. Everything about it seemed transparently fake – fake smiles, fake dialogue, fake music. The bubbles might have been real. It was like the glaring opposite of hip. But hip can be fake too, more like the opposite of authentic, or maybe anti-real. It’s not much of a leap from Lawrence Welk to Ronald Reagan.

    Cakewalk

    Cakewalk

    My sister dragged me to a church dinner program once while visiting her in California. It was like being in the Lawrence Welk audience; corny and lame humor with everyone laughing politely as if what was said symbolized humor and the laughter symbolized rather than was actual amusement. Sort of like a high end car can represent status rather than a good car. I thought, these are the kind of folks who believe Ronald Reagan was heroic and actually voted for the guy, later approving naming airports and freeways after him, and today going on about how they miss him – if only he were around, the country’d shape up fast. I almost said “sincerely” voted for the guy. I suppose if you believe something, however deluded, you are “sincere” when you act out of those convictions. This is what the 60s intuitively rejected as some of us began to shake off our slumber. But Welk fans were there too so it was only a segment of the population who embraced criticality. And, unfortunately, it’s not a generational thing. We can’t expect superficiality to fade with the passage of time for it seems to dwell among us and to replenish itself.

    I’m not sure how large the Lawrence Welk audience was. Nixon liked to pretend they were the “silent majority”. The election of he and Reagan, and Bush for that matter (both of’em), suggests he wasn’t far wrong. In any event, they represent a huge problem for any politician with a progressive agenda. They constitute a large body of theoretically easily manipulable, and easily alienated voters. All bolstered of course by a compliant, hell, complicit media.

    A strange incongruity to the picture I’m painting here is that polls show a majority of the population supports diplomacy over war, single-payer healthcare over insurance company tyranny, environmental health over corporate profits. Yet the corporate stranglehold on our political system doesn’t allow candidates with these priorities to flourish. Several factors come into play: candidates need contributions to run their campaigns; and short-term shifts in attitudes can be manipulated by mis-information efforts – witness the recent defeat of GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington. Polls showed the labeling campaign favored until Big Money turned it around. There’s also the political strategy of saying what your pollsters determine your audience wants to hear. And the establishment pressure on elected officials to do their bidding and to mask it, in patriotic rhetoric or whatever works this week.

    One of the things that seems to work over and over is to associate some virtue, flag or Jesus for example, with the desired candidate or platform. Or to the negative, distracting voters with actually irrelevant, to them, but hot-wire issues like gay marriage or abortion, getting them to unknowingly vote against their own real economic and personal liberty interests.

    During Bush the Younger’s administration polls showed that people believed W embraced certain values – environmental concern, violence only as last resort, standing up for the little guy etc; values that he quite obviously did not actually give two toots for.

    Given this unstable demographic there is always the danger that some master manipulator will come along who can exploit it and sweep us all, once again, into the furnace of world-wide war – this time with the “firepower” to not come out of it. There is a hope, at least as likely (?) that some gifted individual might find the language to touch the authentic awareness that lies at the heart of every person not a sociopath, an enlightened person of integrity who recognizes the necessity, if we are to survive, for a shift in consciousness. Count on the sociopaths to go after this person, should they appear, offering riches and power that cannot be declined, or, turning to the Mafia creed that if you can’t buy someone, you can murder them. Meanwhile the sociopaths seem to be running things and ordinary citizens can lay the ground for such a “revolution”, call it Democracy, by resisting pathology and asserting for an environmentally sustainable, peace and justice, alternative path.

    ###
    Tom Ferguson

    Tom Ferguson

    Tom is a painter, a cartoonist, a musician, a thinker and more. View some of his web sites:

    • www.thinkspeak.net (Painting)
    • toons.thinkspeak.net (Political Cartoons)
    • thinkspeak.bandcamp.com (Music)
    • tfthinkspeak.blogspot.com (blog)

     

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    • dockeroo

      Some blame the decline of network news coverage for the advances of manipulators and charlatans who sell voters a bill of goods. During the build up to the invasion of Iraq, few heavyweights whose face and voice were prominent and influential did much, as I recall, to challenge war mongers, treating these drum majors for war with sympathy, sometimes acting like sycophants. Is it true that the Democrats in congress had the power to slow down or even stop the rush to war? In other words, it ain’t all old geezers at fault.

    • Dave Cooley

      Sixty or more years ago I thought my mother-in-law was tackey for insisting on watching Lawrence Welk every Saturday night. The program, back then to me, was much like you describe it. But today, entering my 86th year, I like the guy — and all of the folks with their old-fashioned hair do’s. Actually, I think it is a pretty good show. Got to give somebody credit — it’s been out there for a long time.
      Ronald Reagan is another story. I thought he was a pretty good actor in his “B-movies.”
      He did a good job when he fronted the GE Theatre on TV. He came to my town several times when he worked for GE. He was pleasant to be around and enjoyed having his picture taken with the townfolks.
      I was in the suite with him and some GE officials one night when the GE official turned to him and said: Ronnie, get yourself a philosophy and I’ll help you become President of the United States.”
      So, we all should admit — like him or not — he did pretty well for himself!

    • Trevor Irvin

      Back in 1972 or thereabouts, I, along with two other friends,
      crashed a Lawrence Welk concert. We were driving back from the Jersey shore
      after 2 days of drinking, smoking pot and sleeping under the boardwalk. We were
      dirty, hungry, broke and dead tired. We were heading back home, with barely
      enough money left for gas. We were on the Garden State Parkway when one of us spotted
      a sign for the Garden State Art Center (It’s called something else now) featuring
      Lawrence Walk, his orchestra and a bunch of bubbles. Though lacking any
      tickets, or money to purchase them, we immediately thought it a great idea to
      attend.

      We pulled up and parked in a packed parking lot next to a
      huge tent that had been set up. We checked out the tent, not a soul was present
      but there was a huge, elaborate, buffet from an earlier, rather classy
      dinner. Piles of hot roast beef, grilled chicken, side dishes, and deserts greeted
      us, still piping hot … we dug in … deep. We probably ate forty bucks of food
      each.

      After satiating ourselves, we decided it would be a shame to
      miss the main event so we wandered into the amphitheater. Packed like sardines with
      old blue-haired couples, all decked out in tuxes and evening gowns, we didn’t
      quite meet the dress code. Even the security guards were wearing white tuxes. Dressed
      in cut off jeans, raggedy, cut off t-shirts and sneakers we traipsed down to
      about the 10th row as if we belonged and settled in.

      We found 3 empty seats next to a couple that had to be pushin’
      90 and proceeded to clap, whistle, yell and cheer louder than anyone else after
      every song that Lawrence and the band played. Apparently after 45 minutes of
      making jokes, clapping and cheering a bit too loudly, some in attendance thought
      maybe we were not quite fitting in. As a white tuxedoed security guard, politely
      asked us to come with him the 90 year old women next to me, leaned over as
      said, “well I thought you guys were a lot of fun.” … The guard escorted us back
      to our car and told us not to come back, so we headed back home. I can’t say
      that as I’ve aged that I’ve become fonder of his music, it still pretty much
      sucks, but not many of my friends can say they saw Lawrence Welk in concert
      from the 10th row.
      Regards,
      T

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