17 November, 2008

Apropos Dylan lyric of the week (Election/Transition Edition)

From "When the Ship Comes In" ("The Times, They Are A-Changin'" is just too easy):


Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin'.
Like the stillness in the wind
'Fore the hurricane begins,
The hour when the ship comes in...

The long lull of the summer months, as both sides gather their forces in anticipation of hurricane season, both literally (literally!) and figuratively.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they're spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean.

The tried-and-true politics of fear and deception prove to be strangely impotent, as an aggressive New Media asserts its role as fact-checker and counter-narrative pusher. Obama's calm, poised and confident style proves impervious to the old guard's desperation, which, like Clinton before them, descends further and further into a caricature of themselves. Grass-roots organizing and fundraising begins to break the chains of influence that has stymied previous progressive campaigns.


Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin'.
And the ship's wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin'.

As the election nears, there is a strange dual sense of possibility and danger. Our political "weary toes" long to touch the promised land, but we have not landed safely yet. There are still obstacles, and the world watches with bated breath as Obama navigates each Scylla and Charybdis.

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'.
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it's for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Republicans, having taken Obama about as seriously as did Clinton, begin to wake up, startled, to their war hero candidate falling far behind our neophyte standard bearer. Panicked, they go for broke with wild accusations and shield themselves with rationalization and collective disbelief. The racist and xenophobic dead enders hyperventilate as it dawns on them that "its for real."

Then they'll raise their hands,
Sayin' we'll meet all your demands,
But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
And like Pharaoh's tribe,
They'll be drownded in the tide,
And like Goliath, they'll be conquered.

As soon as Obama wins, the chorus proclaiming a historical fluke, a lack of mandate, and a "center-right" country begins in an attempt to bluff Obama out of governing in the way that he was elected to. But the tide of a new America, a coalition of the young, the educated, minorities, and much of the working class as well, is rising.

Pharaoh's tribe is defeated, and our ship has come in. But the real prize lies still further inland, and Goliath still waits to be conquered.



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