Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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The Content of Our Character

The last two months I have been listening to the songs of my musical coming-of-age, almost all of them falling into the category of soul and R&B. It was the height of the disco era, a troubled time, but one which I remember fondly. It was also the time before Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in the 1980 Presidential election, a transformative moment in American political history but one which depresses me as much now as it depressed me back then.

That's my original 45RPM, purchased back in 1979 from a hole-in-the-wall record store that catered primarily to African-American consumers.

It's been a long time since I felt this way about the United States. It's been a long time since I felt this hopeful, even though we are in the middle of a huge national crisis. With all that has transpired this evening, interestingly, it was John McCain's heartfelt and moving concession speech -- all the more impressive to me for the catcalls he ignored to deliver it -- that confirmed my mood. I gave an impassioned defense of McCain in my classes today, explaining -- without taking an overt political stand, naturally -- that the campaign and the circumstances affecting it had boxed him into corners that concealed his strengths. I'm glad I did that.

Now, though, it's time to celebrate. I went outside a few moments ago and heard some of my neighbors, returning early from a Republican election-night party, say some terrible things about Obama. It made me angry. It reminded me that the road ahead is hard. But it didn't stop me from playing this song, which is the perfect tune, not only for Obama's campaign but for the long-deferred dream of the African-American community he so vigorously inspired. Have a listen. Have hope.
Tags: autobigraphy, history, music, politics, song

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