I know we’ve probably all said those three words, “Punk’s not dead“, but let’s be honest… It has been since the Reagan era ended. At the very least, it’s been limping along into the neighborhood of whiny tweens occupied by the All American Rejects and Dashboard Confessional. If that doesn’t make you cringe, then I can’t help you. Now, I’m not saying there haven’t been any politically driven outfits since the Reagan era, but for every Refused and Rise Against, there are a million more Good Charlotte-esque bands out there.
As it turned out, Reagan was the perfect target. He was a caricature of 1950’s Americana. He was a movie-star turned president, cut from the perfect conservative cloth. As far as I’m concerned, he hated everyone who wasn’t: rich, straight, white, male, or the epitome of straight-laced, middle America ‘suburbia’. There’s trickle down economics, the war on drugs, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the illegal arms deals. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.
At the time of Reagan we had (off the top of my head here) bands like: Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Black Flag, Rollins Band, Reagan Youth, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Ramones, Suicidal Tendencies, Descendents, Sonic Youth, Crucifuck, Gorilla Biscuits, the Clash… All doing their thing in one way or another. Masses of humanity with a soundtrack to their anger. Hatred turned towards the man the country just elected. The man who was against everything we stood for. Sounds familiar right? I’ll get to that later.
The early to mid 90’s put the nail in the coffin for punk. Clinton seemed like a chill enough dude. He liked to play the sax, didn’t really mean to fuck the people over, and allegedly (picture me using air-quotes there) liked to smoke a little smoke, and get a blowie or two. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, that and bands like the Gin Blossoms, Matchbox 20, and the whole boy-band thing kind of took over. Everything was good, I guess, so there wasn’t as much to be angry about.
Then 9/11 happened. I still remember that detail vividly. It is one of several “flashbulb memories” for me. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, ousted Saddam, killed him, and generally made life suck for our service members, their families, and the citizens of the countries we took up residence in. Plenty of bands jumped on the George W. Bush hate train, but it never really turned into anything. There were protests, concerts, albums, but it wasn’t a movement. Part of me thinks bands like Green Day just jumped on it to make a quick buck. But hey, Green Day would never go against everything they’d ever done just to make a few bucks, right? *crickets*
Now we’re onto the politics…
Then we had Obama, that was historic. We just elected an African-American to the White House. This wasn’t some white dude trying to tell us cutting taxes for rich people would make poor people prosperous. He didn’t try to tell us that gay people were going to hell, and all those aborted babies are roasting like marshmallows. We couldn’t be mad at Obama. He sure got fucked by Clinton and Bush 43 though. The repeal of Glass-Steagle during the Clinton administration was a big factor in the global economic collapse of 2007-2008. You could argue that Clinton’s mishandling of information regarding Osama Bin Laden may have contributed to 9/11, which led to Bush’s fumbling through the entire war. Psst, George, a war on a word doesn’t end. You can’t kill an ideology.
Fast forward to 2016. The DNC completely fucked the people over. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was performing extremely well in the Democratic primaries. He won quite a few by popular vote while delegates and super-delegates decided to side with Hillary Clinton (D-NY) anyway. As it turns out, I guess that was the plan all along? Well, that pissed off the base of voters who turned out for Bernie, a base (voters between 18-29) that has been known notoriously for NOT VOTING. So what happens? We watch the rise of this madman on the right, Donald Trump. An oompa-loompa with bleached hair and baby hands spouting rhetoric built upon ignorance, hatred, and bigotry. Nobody gave Trump a chance, and that’s where we went wrong. We never took him seriously. He bragged about rape, vilified the media, supported torture, and attacked those with disabilities. But he did the same thing that Bernie did. He mobilized a voter base that doesn’t show up most elections, the uneducated ‘Muricans on the right.
So how is this a wake-up call? How is this punk’s lifeline?
Let’s face it, Trump makes me wish Reagan could be president again. I pine for the days of Bush 43. I think that even Mitt Romney or John McCain wouldn’t be half as bad as this psychopath. Trump is installing a cabinet that is full of unqualified, unethical, racist, misogynist, criminal, dishonest, bigots. His Vice President Mike Pence supports “religious freedom” which is good right? Naw, he just wants to be able to discriminate against the LGBTQ community with impunity, because he’s a Christian. His right hand man is Steve Bannon. He formerly ran the “alt-right” site, Breitbart.com, and has a history of antisemitism . (Can we stop calling them alt-right? Please? They’re neo-nazis and they deserve to be knocked the fuck out)
They’re attacking women’s rights. They’re attacking LGBTQ rights. They’re kicking out immigrants, travelers, and visa holders. They’re destroying our rights as voters, as citizens, as Americans. They’re leading the destruction of the next generation of Americans. They’re ruling us with an iron fist.
We’ve seen the overwhelming marches and spontaneous protests across the country. We’ve seen constituents tell their representatives to vote no. We’ve seen the popular vote fail in delivering who we really wanted once again. We’re watching history unfold right before our very eyes. We can stand by and watch it happen, or we can pack into musty clubs, throw our bodies around, blow out our vocal cords and eardrums. We can let people know that we’re fucking pissed. We can blast anthems about how much Don the Con blows. We can rip the spineless Republicans for not standing up to this asshole, when that is their duty as prescribed by the Constitution. We can add a soundtrack to back the millions of voices around the world to make one beautiful, angry show of esprit de corps. We can take back the power from those capitalist fucks in Washington, or we can all sit here and cry. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stated at the Women’s March in Boston, “We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back!”
If you’re not throwing your vest on and lacing up your docs right now, you’re wrong.
Punk’s not dead. It has been hibernating, waiting for the spring of our discontent to arouse our passions. Finally, spring has sprung.