Oasis, Anger, and the Fading 2016 Election

(From L to R) H. Clinton, N. Gallagher, D. Trump
From youtube; will not hurt your devise. Please press play, then read on.

Please play the song, then read on.

While consuming my normal dose of 90’s angst on the treadmill this morning, I allowed myself to slip into a whimsical thought-experiment, the fruits of which are written below. What insights can Oasis’ 1996 classic “Don’t Look Back in Anger” have on this passing election season? Let’s find out.

Slip inside the eye of your mind
Don’t you know you might find
A better place to play

We all prefer to live in our own political echo-chambers, because they make us feel good. But democracy can only exist, and work well, if we agree to step out into the dissonance.

You said that you’d never been
But all the things that you’ve seen
Will slowly fade away.

We’re in an age of rapid change — demographically, technologically, and economically. These changes frighten people, and cause them to lash out in ugly ways. Instead of hate, we have to help those who are watching their old worlds fade around them.

So I start a revolution from my bed
’Cos you said the brains I had went to my head.

Bernie Sanders was a “revolution.” Trump is a “revolution.” But humility does not occur naturally within “revolutions,” and maybe it is humility we need.

Step outside, summertime’s in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
You ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out.

Summer heat, fireplaces, boiling blood — we all have issues we are passionate about. We can choose to all burn out separately, or we can come together. And we should never mistake the heat of passion with the heat of vitriol.

And so Sally can wait, she knows it’s too late as we’re walking on by
Her soul slides away, but don’t look back in anger I heard you say.

Is Sally America, with anger stealing her soul?

Take me to the place where you go
Where nobody knows if it’s night or day

If you dive deep enough into internet comment threads, maybe you’ll find someone who agrees with your political positions. But how’s the weather outside, where the people are?

But please don’t put your life in the hands
Of a Rock n Roll band
Who’ll throw it all away.

Trump’s recent campaign maneuvers and rallies are so helter-skelter a guest on Glenn Thrush’s podcast last week compared it to “a rock band on tour.” The polls the way they are, what can Trump’s intensions be now?

I’m gonna start a revolution from my bed
‘Cos you said the brains I had went to my head
Step outside ‘cos summertime’s in bloom
Stand up beside the fireplace
Take that look from off your face
‘Cos you ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out.

This campaign season has burned hotter than any we have seen in decades. At times like these, rhetoric of “revolution” and vague notions of past greatness are appealing. But we must keep sight of where we want our nation to go, and what it will take to get there together.

So Sally can wait, she knows it’s too late as she’s walking on by
My soul slides away, but don’t look back in anger I heard you say.

For my friends who believe Hillary Clinton is no good for Sally — too dishonest, corrupt, and conniving — remember the flaws in her soul reflect flaws all around us, and so anger is pointless moving forward.

So Sally can wait, she knows it’s too late as we’re walking on by
Her soul slides away, but don’t look back in anger I heard you say.

For my friends who believe Donald Trump is no good for Sally — too hateful, brash, ignorant, and unprepared — remember the flaws in his soul reflect flaws all around us, and so anger is pointless moving forward.

So Sally can wait
She knows it’s too late as she’s walking on by
My soul slides away
But don’t look back in anger
Don’t look back in anger
I heard you say.

This election will be an ugly scar on our nation’s history. Instead of calling on our better angels, we have been caught in a cycle of fear, tribalism, distrust, and anger. In the future we should look back at 2016 to remind ourselves what happens when we give in to our baser instincts. But we must never look back in anger, for then there can be no healing.

At least not today.

In closing, indulge me in following this silly treatise to its absurd end. Noel Gallagher was the author of “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and the brother of Oasis founder Liam Gallagher. Through the years, the brothers would argue bitterly over the creative vision of the band, with Noel in a cycle of leaving and coming-back, and eventually culminating in their permanent break-up in 2009. Now the world is a darker place, void of the music of Oasis.

Many of the problems this country faces are akin to the creative differences of a 90s pop rock band. Sometimes these creative differences give the illusion of being higher, metaphysical, moral battles between an ultimate right and an ultimate wrong. These battles are punctuated by the character flaws of our opposition, and the full-throated encouragement of our allies.

But we need not be the Gallagher brothers. “Instead,” as Peter Wehner wrote in his terrific op-ed in the New York Times this week, “we need the self-confidence to admit that at best we possess only a partial understanding of the truth, which can be enlarged by refining our views in light of new arguments, new circumstances and new insights.”

In other words, when voting next week, let’s remember how good Oasis was when they played together.

P.S. Here is another great version of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” from a Noel Gallagher concert in Argentina. Keep in mind that the vast majority of the people in the crowd do not speak English; the transcendental power of singing together is truly remarkable.

Live in Argentina