Chapter 9: Activation – A Freedom Song

The last in the suite of socially conscious songs, Activation is a ‘phat’ little Dub number about some of the things I’ve been screaming about for donkey’s years: the trickle down economics fallacy, the ‘people are poor because they’re lazy’ fallacy, the fact that we abolished the fairness doctrine in this country as unconstitutional, and thus have had 24/7 right-wing vitriol and brainwashing across AM radio stations all across the country for over 30 years now.

Freedom Plaza, Washington DC. You can see the Capitol in the background.

One of the first actual fights the little lady and I had was over her belief that people earning minimum wage should push their way out of it, and the ones actually contributing were working two jobs, and you know, movin’ on up. Fundamentally, as an immigrant and as someone who has never said no to a job (see intro), worked my way up from what I call ‘teenage bucks an hour’ to quite respectable, I didn’t necessarily disagree with her. She herself worked tirelessly and was loved by her staff. A motivator and someone who lead by example. Why then, did she come off as callous and misguided?

Washington DC. The ‘swamp’ aka Capital of the Free World. Home of Democracy. I love it, but it’s politics ate into my relationship. It’s also prohibitively expensive to live there.

It is true, the minimum wage cannot sustain a life, not in the Washington DC area where I have lived and worked. Not in many parts of the country. But what are these people to do? People, who for a dozen good reasons, cannot simply ‘move on up?’ Why are the Republicans the party of do nothing rugged individualism when it comes to poor people, but the party of bailouts, tax relief and subsidies when it comes to corporations? Trickle down economics is a fraud, and always has been. A very sexy fraud. Sadly, this brainwashing plagues so many on the right, a lot of whom are in desperate need of help themselves, and who often vote against their own interests.

States that vote Republican often have the greatest rates of food insecurity and unemployment. Talk about voting against your own self-interest.

This song was my protest against that thinking. It was also a call to reform the police, but also a call to organize to my progressive friends, and an appeal to perhaps move in the direction of Dr. King and John Lewis. Stop the rioting, stop the violence, start organizing, stop the fighting.

Taken in May of 2019 before Impeachment I. You can see Trump Hotel in the background. Fake news is stronger than ever. Limbaugh may be gone, but nothing will change. Trump’s son Eric was so proud of dad’s double impeachments, he tweeted: 2-0. Sigh…

Despite the dark themes, this is a joyous and hopeful song. It still hurts though that the argument that sowed the seeds of resentment in my lady’s good and kind heart, came about as a result of her being pushed around by wealthy businessmen and a greedy corporation, and her own resulting frustration with staff who she felt weren’t pulling their weight.

Ultimately, it was I that failed. By acting like a stuffy intellectual, I made her feel stupid. Toxic masculinity perhaps? In hindsight what did it matter that the little lady wanted to blow off some steam? A lesson in humility and empathy we must all learn for sure.

You still believe in trickle-down economics? At your age?
(Keith Knight/The New Yorker)

Overall, it was a fun track to make. And to sing. Plus I got to say ‘trickle down economics’ in a song, and give ‘shout outs’ to both Rush Limbaugh (RIP, but alive when the song was written), and Sean Hannity (still very much alive, soul deceased circa 1990s).

Next: Chapter 10 – Approach