I feel like I am watching the America I grew up in burn down around my very ears. I am watching chaos replace function, one-line Twitter rants replace informative press briefings and shouting and insults replace reasoned discourse.
I attended a recent Holly Near fundraiser for Jamie McLeod Skinner, who is running for Congress against incumbent Greg Walden. The lyrics from one of Near’s songs struck me: “We’re still here, choosing love over fear. When the lines are drawn, we’re still here.”
Near was singing this as a marching song, an homage, and a call to action, to those with wrinkles and gray hair who remember the ’60s and ’70s so well. Think back to the days of donning T-shirts bearing a myriad of political slogans (remember “Kucinich for President”?) and grabbing a picket sign as we ran out the door to join a march for abortion rights or Cesar Chavez’s grape boycott. Or standing in a plaza to support civil rights and union protections, or protesting against nuclear power plants? Now, we are in dire need of getting out there again and supporting political candidates who speak truth to power and who dare to defy the heavy fist of corporate bullies and PACS.
We currently have a president who believes that women can be grabbed by the “p___y,” and who appears to believe that he, and his administration, are above the rule of the law. We have a Supreme Court nominee — and as I file this story I have no idea of the outcome — who appears to lack the character and temperament for such a position. For those paying attention, we are being assailed on many fronts at once, and many of these changes will affect our lives for decades to come.
Now we have a mid-term election that is fast approaching. We have the chance to elect candidates at all levels: from our own local city council and parks commission to statewide offices. This election gives us a chance to bring in new voices and fresh insights. We have the chance to vote out our current congressman, Greg Walden. (If you want to know who he takes campaign money from, go to opensecrets.org.) We have a chance to elect a woman who has been endorsed by Senators Wyden and Merkley, as well as state Rep. Pam Marsh. Jamie McLeod-Skinner supports affordable, comprehensive healthcare and she believes that climate change is real.
Holly Near’s lyrics speak not only to those of us who remember marching for the values we so fervently believed in back then, and which we still believe in today, but also to those who would oppose such rights and values. Let her words sound a warning that, yes, “We’re still here.”
Let those who are abusing their power at the expense of the rest of us feel our presence, and let’s don the tie-dye T-shirts symbolically, feel the fire in our bellies once more, and do everything in our power — give money, write letters and, most of all, VOTE — to bring about the change that we so desperately need.
Do it for the sake of ourselves, our children, their children and for everything this wonderful, beautiful, amazing country of America stands for.
Author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at dailytidings.com/lifestyle/mocha-musings. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.