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Hail and Farewell

The Day the Music Died

November 19, 2012

The anthem of my senior year in high school was Don McLean’s “American Pie,” notorious for being one of the lengthiest Top 40 songs in rock ‘n’ roll history, as well as a verbose and convoluted tribute to the late Buddy Holly. Its tag line was “the day the music died.”

Although I’m certainly no expert on the song’s lyrics and all the various meanings attributed to them, the drift of the piece is that rock ‘n’ roll lost its way after Holly’s death in 1958. That is, somehow Holly’s life and music were on a plane of purity and innocence lost in the era of puerility Holly’s drug-laden successors brought us in the sixties. And their heavy metal and rap/hip-hop successors may have only served to affirm this. However, I don’t think that even if Holly had survived the plane crash that killed him and went on to compete with Elvis and the British invasion of the sixties that, somehow, rock music and all the generational and cultural tumult it helped create would have been much different. If McLean was actually trying to say that, I think he was sadly mistaken. Rock music, although not necessarily the music of the devil that my parents thought it was, was and is not in the least innocent either, all the beach party and Elvis movies notwithstanding.

So why do I bring this up? Well, many of us may feel that something died in the USA following the election of November 6th, never to revive. Maybe it did; not to be trite, but as the old sayings go, time will tell and it remains to be seen. And after a few days of depression and numbness, I made a couple of key decisions.

First, I’m getting at least a temporary divorce from politics and all of its contentious issues. That includes stepping down from the position of Editor-in-Chief, which it has been my high honor to hold for the last six years. Although I made this decision some months ago and vowed I would stick to it regardless of the election’s outcome, it would be disingenuous to say that the result has made it more difficult to leave.

Second, in the recognition that I’ve spent too much time being angry about the way things are in the last decade, instead of grateful for how much worse they are not (at least not yet), I’m vowing to enjoy life more and be a better husband, father, grandfather, and friend in the process. There’s indeed something to that old saying that we need to stop and smell the roses in this life, for they are indeed fleeting. For the sake of one’s mental health, preserving psychic as well as physical energy for the things we enjoy instead of obsessing over things we cannot change is, well, downright necessary to a truly happy life. I simply refuse anymore to be the stereotypical angry conservative, because for too long I’ve lived it, and at the expense of enjoying life for all it can be.

Yet as all the controversy evolves post-election, it’s hard to ignore the pain this country is going through, now and in the foreseeable future. As the pundits stab their knives into what’s left of the Republican Party, it may be more useful to consider things like:

  • How it was that the better-organized ground game of the Obama team was so motivated to get out the vote for a man who may well be the most divisive, dishonest, and least accomplished president in history? Someday far in the future, historians will be scratching their heads over this. Did the Republicans, even moderates like Mitt Romney, allow themselves to be made so contemptible by the opposition that they would walk over broken glass barefooted to get Obama re-elected, even if he was no longer their messiah? All we can assume from the results is that their side simply wanted it more than ours did. And that’s really hard to fathom.
  • How the Republican Party can survive as long as the “establishment” types who are scared to death of the Democrats and their allies in the media continue to be the “leaders.” Eric Cantor’s apparent willingness to sit on hot information from the FBI that could have sunk Obama’s chances is just one of many recent examples of the Republicans playing by a deferential set of rules that the Democrats left behind years ago, if in fact they ever followed them. And for every time a John McCain or a Lindsey Graham stands up to Obama, there are five other times when they either capitulate or betray colleagues on their side of the aisle.

Of course, there’s a plethora of other things that we need to ponder over the next few months and years. Like an alcoholic or other addict, is America going to have to hit bottom before the true recovery can begin? I think that was perhaps the biggest dread behind this election—that this was our last chance to avoid hitting the bottom. Maybe it was. But each day, as grim as things may now seem, brings a new sunrise and a new hope. As long as each of us draws a breath, we have a chance to change, however incrementally, the world around us. And in some way, however large or small, each of us needs to try our best to do that.

I’m moving on to that new set of challenges, and as in the military, I salute in advance the worthy successor who will take on this role at Conservative Truth. And with that I say farewell and Godspeed to you, sure in the knowledge that if we run the race with everything that’s in us, there will be a vast reward at the end.

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Copyright ©2012 Phil Perkins