You look like you could use a little encouragement. Yes, you. So, I’ve recorded this version of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.”
You may be thinking, yes, that’s a nice sentiment, but will everything be alright? Really? Well, that I don’t know.
But I do know this. We can work to make it better. There is nothing broken that we cannot fix.
So. Vote. Tell your friends to vote. Make calls in support of Democratic candidates. I’ve been phonebanking 6 hours a week for the past few weeks, but my approach doesn’t need to be yours. Just do what you can.
In the words of the song, do your best. Do everything you can.
If the regime tries to steal another election or refuses to concede, take to the streets. March. That’s the only way to get rid of autocrats.
Do not be intimidated by the regime. It has never been legitimate. Through its support of the regime and attacks on democracy itself, the Republican Party has forfeited its right to govern.
Indeed, as I type these words, that very same party is using the old fascist tactic of seizing control of the judiciary, in an effort to secure minority rule. The nomination of Judge Handmaiden, just like the nominations of Justice Rapist and Justice Nostalgia are all illegitimate. The “President” who appointed them “won” his presidency via treason. The party who advanced them violated precedent in denying President Obama a hearing on Merrick Garland and then violated its own recently invented rule in advancing Judge Handmaiden. All three of these seats are stolen.
In response to Republican court-packing, we must expand the courts. These whiny fascists will cry foul, but they are hypocrites interested only in their own power. They have no moral standing to cry foul. They are foul. They must be opposed at every level of government.
The Republican Party is the greatest threat to American democracy.
Should the Democrats overcome Republican voter suppression and Russian interference to gain power, the party will need to act quickly and decisively to rebuild democracy. It will need to be more vigorous and swift than it typically is. It must prosecute the criminal regime and its accomplices. Restore voting rights. Eliminate the Electoral College. Fight the pandemic sensibly. Provide relief to all who have lost jobs. Expand healthcare — which, frankly, has been the number-one issue in my own calls to voters.
All of these efforts can be blocked by a Supreme Court with three stolen seats — indeed, a court mostly appointed by presidents (and one “president”) who lost the popular vote. The court does not reflect the values of the citizens of this country. But it can.
So, let us fight on.
Oh, and, since I typically offer some information about the song in these #PlagueSongs posts, a few more words. “The Middle” remains Jimmy Eat World’s biggest hit — released in November 2001 as the second single from the band’s album Bleed American (2001). It was a top 5 hit in the US, and reached the top 30 in England, Scotland, and New Zealand.
Here’s the video, directed by Paul Fedor.
In our current context, the video looks like a super-spreader event! But back in 2001, it was merely a White lad refusing to abide by the norms of a hedonistic, very White, teen house-party. Or … will our young protagonist succumb to peer pressure? Watch until the end of the video.
Why not perform a #PlagueSong of your own? I’ve many ideas on this playlist, and there are surely many more I’ve not considered.
- Plague Songs
- Sing. Sing a Song. #PlagueSongs, no. 1 (17 Mar. 2020). Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
- Do Not Touch Your Face. #PlagueSongs, no. 2 (24 Mar. 2020). The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face.”
- The Bright Side. #PlagueSongs, no. 3 (31 Mar. 2020). Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Also the first post where I began my practice of using a lyric as the title.
- It’s later than you think. #PlagueSongs, no. 4 (7 Apr. 2020). Prince Buster’s “Enjoy Yourself.” (Also: the discovery that I cannot play ska.)
- There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. #PlagueSongs, no. 5 (14 Apr. 2020). Tommy James and the Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
- Be an optimist instead. #PlagueSongs, no. 6 (21 Apr. 2020). The Kinks’ “Better Things.”
- Kick at the darkness. #PlagueSongs, no. 7 (28 Apr. 2020). Bruce Cockburn’s “Lovers in a Dangerous Time.”
- So far away, but still so near. #PlagueSongs, no. 8 (5 May 2020). Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.”
- If you just call me. #PlagueSongs, no. 9 (12 May 2020). Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”
- In the end, they’ll be the only ones there. #PlagueSongs, no. 10 (19 May 2020). Hanson’s “MMMBop,” and a few chords from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
- No matter how I struggle and strive. #PlagueSongs, no. 11 (25 May 2020). Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”
- Love. #PlagueSongs, no. 12 (1 June 2020). Medley of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love, and Understanding” and the O’Jays’ “Love Train,” with brief snippets of the Staple Singers’ “This Train” and the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.”
- This is the time. #PlagueSongs, no. 13 (9 June 2020). Lou Reed’s “There Is No Time.”
- My neighbor and my friend. #PlagueSongs, no. 14 (16 June 2020). Fred Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”
- If you’re lost, I’m right behind. #PlagueSongs, no. 15 (23 June 2020). Everything But the Girl’s “We Walk the Same Line.”
- Live to see another day. #PlagueSongs, no. 16 (30 June 2020). The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”
- Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives, and I decline. #PlagueSongs, no. 17 (7 July 2020). R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine).”
- Someday we’ll find it. #PlagueSongs, no. 18 (14 July 2020). Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection.”
- Can’t control my brain. #PlagueSongs, no. 19 (21 July 2020). Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
- 4’33” #PlagueSongs, no. 20. AND 43 notes on silence, time, and the corona era (28 July 2020). John Cage’s 4’33”, plus an essay inspired by the piece.
- Mann, wer hätte das gedacht, dass es einmal soweit kommt #PlagueSongs, no. 21 (4 Aug. 2020). Nena’s “99 Luftballons.”
- Banish sadness and strife. #PlagueSongs, no. 22 (21 Aug. 2020). “Look for the Silver Lining,” composed by Jerome Kern and Buddy DeSylva. My version is based on the Chet Baker recording.
- What Is Your COVID-19 Routine?
- Resist the Regime
- “Fight Fascism. Vote Clinton.” (Dedicate Your No-Trump Vote, 30 Sept. 2016)
- Surviving Trumpism. Restoring Democracy. (12 Nov. 2016). I wrote this less than a week after the 2016 election.
- The Public University in an Age of Alt-Facts: Remarks on Receiving a Higuchi Award (13 Dec. 2016)
- “Resolutions for a New Academic Year: A survival guide for higher education in perilous times” (Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 Sept. 2017)
- RESIST! Year #2 begins NOW. (7 Nov. 2017)
- Why Trump Jails Crying Children. How We Resist. (A Twitter Essay) (21 June 2018)
- RESIST! A mix for 2019 (30 Jan. 2019)
- Kansas’ Distinguished Professors call for end to International Student Ban (11 July 2020)
- A Democracy, If We Can Keep It (29 Aug. 2020)
- This Mix Kills Fascists (30 Sept. 2020). My RESIST! mix for 2020.
- Children’s Literature vs. the Regime
- Refugee Stories for Young Readers (Public Books, 23 Mar. 2017). Francesca Sanna’s The Journey and other contemporary refugee tales for children.
- Donald and the Golden Crayon (20 Oct. 2018). The first book to adapt Crockett Johnson’s children’s books for political satire.
- Migration, Refugees, and Diaspora in Children’s Literature (ChLAQ) (11 Dec. 2018). Blog post announcing special issue of the Children’s Literature Association Quarterly on this subject, including excerpts from my introduction.
- Harold vs. Donald, round 2 (9 Sept. 2019)
- “Trump is a liar. Tell children the truth” (Public Books, 15 Oct. 2019). See also the related blog post on the essay.
- “A Manifesto for Radical Children’s Literature (and an Argument Against Radical Aesthetics)” (Barnboken: tidskrift för barnlitteraturforskning/Journal of Children’s Literature Research no. 42, Dec. 2019)