observations and opinion
If anyone even thinks about Bing Crosby anymore, it’s not as a “political” singer. Yet one of his great early recordings is a plaintive, mildly cynical “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” the song tells the story of an average American man, who after “slogging through hell” in World War I and coming home to build “a dream”, he has been cut loose: unemployed, on the trash heap of society.
The song was a big hit for Crosby during the Depression:
This is the profound, elemental sentiment of the disaffected working class: those who know they have been left behind by the parade. Those who built something that others now enjoy, but to no enduring credit.
This is the sour, resentful – but utterly fair – expression of outrage that after shedding blood and tears and sweat to fight wars and to work hard, people stand with little or nothing, while others enjoy the fruits of their labour.
It’s too old-fashioned a song, and a recording, to make it into a political rally or commercial nowadays. But you could run it under any Bernie Sanders ad and it would work. And in truth, plenty of Trump supporters would hear their own experience in it too.
The problem with Trump, of course, is that he gazes down from the tower those people built. Swollen with wealth, sullen with distaste for all those “losers”, he bestrides his new party and may yet bestride his nation.
Not satisfied with milking the people’s labor for profit, now he seeks to milk their grievances for power.
So far has the Party of Lincoln fallen, from the hill on which it was built.