Wednesday, November 2nd.

Now Playing: Exit Strategy by Valient Thorr

I saw three different people with soul patches today.

I'm not talking about facial hair that happened to be on the bottom lip. I'm not talking about unkept facial hair giving the appearance of soul patch. I'm talking about well-groomed, maintained, I-did-this-on-purpose, Apollo Ohno soul patches. I haven't seen a soul patch in eight years, much less three in one day, much less three all on the 6 Train during rush hour.

Did I miss something? Is this a thing again? Choker necklaces are a thing again. Robyn has been a thing again for years now. But soul patches? I honestly thought they had gone the way of Hawaiian shirts and the X-Games and George W. Bush.

Speaking of things I thought we had done away with, Donald J. Trump is even with Hillary Clinton in many new polls. What I would give to have George W. Bush in the White House.

Or Mitt Romney. Or Bush Senior. Or John McCain (though ideally John McCain from ten years ago, not the unreasonable party hack he's become). Anybody but Trump. Almost literally anybody. I'd rather have a walking, talking soul patch as President. I'd rather have Apollo Ohno as President.

And here's why: you can protest a George Bush. You can make fun of a Mitt Romney. You can humble a John McCain. Trump? Not so much.

The song linked to above is one of many great, great anti-Bush songs that came out in the mid-2000s. There are hundreds of others. Everyone from Bright Eyes to System of a Down had something to sing about George Bush. And it was largely effective. The punk boom of the mid-2000s didn't stop Bush from scaring his way to re-election, but it did help sweep the House and Senate in 2006 and put Barack Obama in the White House in 2008. It was a good time to be a punk.

But what's going to happen in 2017, 18, and 19 under President Trump? I'm not saying that he's the kind of person who would censor music. He is, but he's not going to jail punk musicians. My point is that there will be no such thing as a punk musician under President Trump. How could there be? What is at all "punk" or "anti-establishment" or "contrarian" about hating Trump? How can you use mass media to destroy a man who was built by mass media? How do you caricature a caricature? How do you spoof a spoof? How do you make a walking antagonism feel shame?

You don't. If you could, this would have been over before it was started. Increasingly, it's looking like that may have been the case anyway, just in the other direction. Maybe Trump was destined to become President because he is impervious to criticism. Sure, criticism hurts him, but it only hurts his feelings. It doesn't hurt his stamina or his drive or his thirst for revenge. All you do when you write a punk song about trump is annoy him to the point where he'll send it right back your way. "Punk music is low energy. Sad!"

The days of screaming and shouting at your enemies is over. In the world of Internet trolls and Donald Trump, the best thing you can do is ignore him. He feeds off attention. Cut off his food source. Let's say the unthinkable happens and he gets the keys to the castle. Don't make your reaction about him. Rather than yelling at Trump, talk to your local community organizers. Join an organization that aligns with your values. Flood the world with good rather than swim in the bad. Because it's been the bad of this election that has brought us to where we are today. And where we are today is a dangerous place, no matter what happens in six days. I can prove it. I saw three different people with soul patches today.


Thursday, November 1st, 2016.

Now Playing: That's the Way that the World Goes Round by John Prine

Let's talk about what solidarity means.

I'm going to be blogging every day for the next seven days until this godforsaken bloated whale of an election finally explodes, covering the beach of Democracy with its stinking entrails until we the electorate decide how to best clean it up. That means that every post is going to be more topical than political and more scatterbrain that topical. I have not updated my bloggy-woggy as often as I had hoped, but if this past summer was any indication elections have a way of making me want to write. My girlfriend calls me "more of a newsletter guy" because I prefer long posts to short social media outbursts. I'll take it.

Speaking of short media outbursts, let's get back to solidarity. The past two days have seen Facebook do its Facebooky thing by taking over the hive-mind with a meme that leaves me more conflicted than it probably should. The long and short of it is that people have been checking in to the Standing Rock Reservation to ostensibly interfere with police targeting protesters there on social media. On its face, this is a wonderful show of solidarity with a group that is underrepresented at best and criminally ignored at worst by the MSM. Once you dig a little deeper, however... it's still a wonderful show of solidarity. There are no two ways about it. I'm usually a contrarian when it comes to social media, especially social media mixed with politics, but I do feel that this meme, if nothing else, raises awareness. Plus, representatives from the camp have given this meme their seal of approval, so really who am I to judge?

Who I am is someone keenly aware of the difference between telling and showing. I write plays, which are blog posts you shout at people in dark rooms. In plays, you would never have a character enter a room and say "I AM THIS WAY. BELIEVE ME." Instead, you would have that character walk into a room and act in that way, whatever that way may be. I think that checking into Standing Rock is a great way of entering a room and saying, "I stand with the protestors." Except you're not really taking a stand. More likely, you're sitting it out, cheering from the sidelines.

Of course, this is your right. Not everyone can donate to the Standing Rock Sioux, and fewer still can actually make their way to North Dakota to show their support. What concerns me is the way that so many of us conflate shows of solidarity with acts of solidarity, and this meme is effectively just a show. Flooding Facebook with false-positives will no more effect change than screaming at Donald Trump through your television screen. Announcing a position is not an act of solidarity, it is a show of it. Shows are important. Symbols are extremely important. Showing something is a way to address a need for change. But action - real, look-what-I-can-do action - is how we effect that change.

Checking in at Standing Rock is only one example of this dichotomy, but it has gotten me thinking a lot about what we talk about when we talk about politics. It also has me thinking about how in this election, that dichotomy might not be as clear cut as I think it is. When someone writes an angry status update about Trump or Clinton, isn't that as much of an action as anything? If our social media is an echo-chamber, then no. If we are actually reaching people of differing view points, then maybe. Voting blows this dichotomy out of the water because it is at once showing and telling your solidarity with a certain candidate; however, you only get to vote for President once every four years. What do you do with the rest of the time?

Here's what I do: on November 9th, I am showing where I stand by actively taking a stand. On November 9th, I am switching party affiliations. I do not believe that I am a Democrat anymore. I am a liberal, I am a progressive, but I am not a capital-D Democrat. I will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8th, and starting no November 9th I will do everything in my power to show her that putting her into office is not the end of her campaign, but the beginning of it. I feel no solidarity with the Democratic Party, an organization as corrupt as it is opaque. Right now, I am effectively "updating my status" when it comes to the state of the two-party system. Once this election is finally, mercifully over, I'm putting that status into action.

In the meantime, I'll be here every day until November 8th. This is where I stand: someone conflicted, confused, and yet committed to seeing this week out. We'll see what happens after this week is through.