One of my favorite musician’s of this decade is Vancouver electro-pop queen Grimes (Claire Boucher) who has made a career of mining the genre for its eccentricities. When her major label debut Visions dropped in 2012, its blend of knotted synths and looping vocals was so foreign that I wondered if I had accidentally stumbled upon an alien artifact. Her 2015 follow up Art Angels proceeded to re-imagine 90’s pop in ways that awoke my inner child and drove me to dance with (clumsy) glee.
So what does a millennial pop star have to do with Joe Biden and the DNC? Well, considering it’s been over three years since Art Angels was released, I recently found myself typing her name into Google to see what she was up to. Granted, I knew she was in a relationship with billionaire and technology pioneer Elon Musk- but what about the music? A recent issue of Rolling Stone had me covered in that regard.
Her new album is “a concept album about [an] anthropomorphic Goddess of climate change: A psychedelic, space dwelling demon [made of ivory and oil] who relishes the end of the world”. Grimes added… “it’s mostly ethereal nu metal”. While the first portion of her comment struck me as fantastical but on-brand, the latter detail sent me for a loop. A nu-metal album? From a woman whose target demographic is urbanites with cotton candy colored hair, excessively long beards and gender-fluid tendencies (sometimes all at once)? I realize that music is cyclical by nature, but I think we all presumed nu-metal was a genre that would stay dead and buried. I mean, I can’t imagine anybody out there is demanding a new Limp Bizkit album… (although I don’t spend much time at WWE live-shows so I can’t say that with certainty).
Cut forward a couple days later and news broke that the DNC had not only refused Washington Governor (and presidential candidate) Jay Inslee’s request for a debate centered around climate change but had also told Inslee that “if [he] participated in anyone else’s climate debate, [he would] not be invited to future debates”. In other words, candidates who choose to participate in a 3rd party debate over climate change will be blacklisted from any ability to win the presidency. With my blood boiling over the DNC’s decision and images of starving polar bears and Mad Max landscapes rioting in my head, I was immediately hit with a guttural craving for the music of the visceral… and so I put on a Marilyn Manson album for the first time in many years.
Technically, Marilyn Manson is not nu-metal, but his band’s music is equally reliant on power chords and provides the same violent urge to mosh that a band like Disturbed might. His discography is also forever tied to the political furor of the Bush era via the frenzy that the religious right made over Manson’s lyrics (which lampooned America’s affinity for celebrity worship, gun fetishism and blind religiosity). Hundreds of concerts into adulthood, and his performance at a Denver venue the day after George Bush was re-elected remains my favorite live experience. It was a sweaty, swirling communal exorcism of ~2000 people’s grief over the fact that a war mongering, malaproping fool had been given another four years to further muck things up. (Oh, how I long for such simple times)…
“We write our prayers on a little bomb/ Kiss it on the face and send it to God/ We sing the death song kids/ Because we’ve got no future”. I sang these words while stuck in the bumper to bumper traffic that the 101 greets Angelenos with every day. Thousands of cars halted under the haze of a city with no viable form public transportation if you live (or work) outside of a very specific route… It was at this point that I remembered Grimes has often talked about Marilyn Manson’s impact on her as a teenager. And then I recalled a late-November dinner that I had with a friend from film school last year:
In between handfuls of fries, he had said: “I’m like 17 again. Angsty all the time. I play Nine Inch Nails constantly in order to feel better about everything”. Though the fellow in question is a recently married man, he was not referring to the realities of wedlock. Nope, he was referring to interactions with his Trump-supporting extended family in Iowa (a place he called home during an adolescence full of cargo pants and over-sized Korn t-shirts). He was talking about an overwhelming sense that the DNC has learned nothing from the loss of 2016. He was talking about our current political environment.
“The death of one is a tragedy / The death of millions just a statistic” blares over my elderly VW’s chatty engine just in time for an epiphany: My generation is suffering from an increasing sense of impending doom, and it’s turning us into (slightly more logical) versions of a high school goth. “I want to have kids, but what’s the point” has become a common refrain. And that’s not even considering those of us for whom the idea of (responsible) child rearing has become a luxury of the wealthy. After all, the average millennial has an income of only $35,592, and we share a combined trillion dollars in debt (most of it student loans). Despite being the most educated generation by a wide margin and living in an era where shelter, gas and food are astronomically more expensive than 30 years ago, we make 20% less than baby boomers did at the same age.
There is a reason that more people under 30 view socialism favorably (51%) than capitalism (45%). And no, it’s not because we are too young to remember the Cold War. It’s because we’ve watched the neoliberal agenda of deregulation, privatization and for-profit wars create rampant economic inequality. It’s because we live in a globalized world where we can talk to our friends from France, Germany or Sweden about their homelands and the benefits of things like Medicare-For-All or strong social safety nets. And the vast majority of us are awake to the fact that Democrats like the Clintons or Joe Biden have played a direct role in shipping jobs overseas, pushing for the war with Iraq or passing the Crime Bill of 94…
And now: a gross confession that will do my currently single self no favors- for the majority of my life, I only brushed my teeth in the evenings. I also engaged in the filthy habit of chewing tobacco for five years of my twenties. It’s easy to disregard long-term repercussions when you are young and the consequences of your actions are out of sight and, thus, out of mind. But at a certain point in time my gums began to recede ever-so-slightly and my teeth tilted toward a subtle shade of yellow. Reality was suddenly staring at me in the mirror, and when that happens it becomes simple to extrapolate. Yellow teeth now; stomach cancer later. I immediately quit dipping and upped the hygiene habits.
You would think people over 45 would follow the same logic pattern. A war built on lies here, a Great Recession there- at some point it should have become clear that free-market economics is a cloud of smoke choking the middle and working classes of this country to death. Instead, they lined up behind A) the same family whose policies (welfare reform, NAFTA, reforming Glass-Steagall) helped land us in this mess or B) backed a pathological liar with tyrannical tendencies and bigoted rhetoric (who won specifically because Option A could be directly linked to a plethora of disastrous decisions). Yes, a substantial number of Trump’s supporters were also driven by blatant racism (or a thirst for authoritarianism), but history has repeatedly shown us that economic suffering and the ire of “the other” are intrinsically linked…
Economics ebb and flow with time- so while more millenials voted for Bernie than Clinton or Trump combined during the primaries, the vast majority of us still voted for Clinton in the general. 88% of Bernie’s supporters did (which looks especially high when you consider that only 75% of Clinton supporters voted for Obama in 2008). We are talking about Donald Trump after all (the same guy who causes the Orwellian tattoo on my right arm to glow orange). We voted for Clinton with the presumption that the combination of Bernie’s negotiated DNC platform and grassroots pressure would ensure that she kept progressives in mind while in office. Because while I would argue there is no grey area on a life-or-death policy like healthcare, incrementalism can still be argued as palatable on certain issues (infrastructure for example).
And now we circle back to the title of this article and the trigger that placed me in front of the keyboard. Study after scientific study has made it crystal clear that we have roughly a 10 year window to treat climate collapse like the existential crisis that it is and shift paradigms. That, or the world will be bordering on post-apocalyptic by 2050. It’s not just the scientific papers that indicate our doomsday clock is ticking. It topped 120 degrees in India last week, and a heat wave in Japan just hospitalized 600. You can watch time-lapses of the ice caps melting or read about the acidification of the oceans and the resulting death of our ocean’s coral reefs. The 6th Great Mass Extinction has begun, and it’s human induced.
So when Biden calls for a middle ground on climate change, and the DNC refuses to allow its candidates a platform to discuss it, the alarm bells start ringing. There is no middle ground on climate change, and this should not be happening. If the DNC loyalists and corporate media arms are going to push Hillary 2.0 down our throats while insisting that an establishment moderate is who will beat Trump in 2020 than he (or she) better be approaching a solution to climate collapse like it’s the second go-round of the Manhattan Project. The DNC should be hosting a debate centered around the issue, distinguishing themselves from Republicans and making it clear to everyone under the age of 45 that it’s a top priority. Instead, they have just revealed to the world (much like they did when they dissolved the rule against taking lobbyist money from the fossil fuel industry) that Tom Perez and Joe Biden are more concerned with protecting monied interests.
This is not how you increase turnout. This is not how you win elections. This is how you release the virus that is apathy straight into the crowd and spread it like the disease ridden monkey from Outbreak…
“Faced with a decision/ What do I call bullshit?/ A contemporary dilemma”… Sorry, I needed a soundtrack for my typing, and Manson felt a touch too nihilistic for a beautiful Saturday morning. But as I listen to one of 2018’s better albums, I do want to clarify something: Trump is a master propagandist whose essential command is that his supporters “reject the evidence of [their] eyes and ears”. The Donald is a threat to democracy and human decency, and so I am not asking you to join a never-Biden movement. There is too much at risk for this country, it’s institutions (hello, Supreme Court) and the many minority communities suffering under Trump’s wrath. But for the sake of people without quality healthcare, the 40% of Americans who are a paycheck away from poverty and the health of the planet… I am asking that you fight to prevent Joe from being the Democratic nominee.
We still have 6 months before the first primary, and if there is anything 2016 should have taught us, it’s that the CNN’s of the world are lying when they claim to know who is electable. There is no good reason to support Joe. This is a man who failed to release a climate change plan until Green Peace smacked him with a D- in their ranking of candidate platforms. And despite having been in the race for several months, his plan was so rushed that Biden’s team had lifted much of its language directly from a 3rd party think tank (Carbon Capture Coalition) whose members include Shell, Peabody Energy, and Arch Coal.
This is a man who took decades to change his stance on the vile Hyde Amendment (and did so only after taking massive heat for reaffirming his support). This is the man who wrote the bill that ensures student loans are the only thing a person can’t declare bankruptcy over and who prioritizedthe profits of credit card companies over the well-being of working people. By supporting Biden, you are supporting a candidate who is firmly to the right of Obama. You are crushing progressive momentum and endorsing forty years of failed policy. You are telling younger generations that they do not matter.
“Glass barely bends before it cracks/ Embedded down into our path/ Paved in the crimson of our tracks/ Without the chance of turning back”… Like with climate change itself, there is still time to change our trajectory via grassroots pushback. There are 20 candidates in this race. Let’s not repeat the same mistake of propping up one who is indebted to corporations just because they are familiar, safe and have a D next to their name. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Walter Mondale… we’ve seen how that story plays out.
Find the candidate who represents your values and actually understandsthe problems facing everyday Americans… one you truly trust to fight on your behalf. Canvas, phone bank and challenge the preconceived notions of your friends and family. And should you want to call the DNC and give them a piece of your mind, you can do so at (202) 863–8000).