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Ron Radosh

Hey Arlo! The Times They Are A-Changin’

July 26th, 2009 - 12:31 pm

Leafing through today’s Sunday New York Times Magazine, we old folkies got the shock of our life. It appears in an interview with folksinger Arlo Guthrie, heir to his dad Woody’s legacy. As most everyone knows,  Woody was the proletarian bard of the 1930’s, the politically conscious left-winger who wrote a weekly column for The People’s Daily World, the West Coast edition of the Communist Party’s Daily Worker. It was called “Woody Sez,” and contained his pointed observations on life and politics.

His most well known song has by now become the unofficial American anthem. “This Land is Your Land” was played at both the Obama inauguration by Pete Seeger and Bruce Springstreen, as well as at America’s bicentennial celebration with Ronald Reagan present, at the Miss America Pageant, and numerous other patriotic events. It has transcended its origins as a counter to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which Guthrie saw as mawkish and super patriotic. Now, both are often sung at the same event, something which no doubt would have shocked Arlo’s old man.

So now comes Arlo Guthrie who took the occasion to tell the Times, in answer to the question: “Where are you politically these days?”

I became a registered Republican about five or six years ago because to have a successful democracy you have to have at least two parties, and one of them was failing miserably. We had enough good Democrats. We needed a few more good Republicans. We needed a loyal opposition.

Five or six years ago. In case the dates don’t add up for you, that was during the administration of George W. Bush! And evidently, Arlo remains a Republican, because he sees the need for a “loyal opposition,” one that in the time of Obama mania he seems to think is more necessary than ever.

I suspected something was going on with Arlo. Two years ago, at a concert he gave at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia with his family, he uttered some pointed words about how he was fed up with trade unions, whose featherbedding forbade people like him to carry his own guitars onto stage. Breaking the union rules, he made a point of telling us that he was doing it anyway, “despite the union.” He also said: “I used to think I knew all the answers. Now I don’t even know the right questions.”  I guess he won’t be singing Woody’s “Talkin’ Union” anymore.

Anyway, Arlo, congratulations for your courage in telling the world about your political affiliation.  Should you prepare for some contentious moments during your next concert with Pete Seeger?

Update: July 29th:  Alro comments himself on his politics. He is obviously a traditional libertarian:

 News & Announcements

  2 Cups Of Coffee or My 2 Cents by adg on Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:50 am
I haven’t been home very much – yet. But that will change now that we’re getting into the heart of summertime. I’ve been getting quite a few responses to the posts here at arlo.net concerning various subjects. I’ve been thinking it would be a good idea to further the conversation. There’s controversy surrounding just about everything going on these days. And although I think discussing difficult subjects is good for the soul, I constantly have to remind myself that it ain’t all there is.

For example, about 5 or 6 years ago I left the Democratic Party and joined the Republican Party. I did so because I believed that my voice (and others like mine) needed to be heard where it would be most useful. Frankly, I still don’t believe there’s a whole lot of difference between the two. But, a healthy democracy needs a loyal and healthy opposition. Without it we run the risk of a march toward totalitarianism that would be difficult to halt.

At the time the Republicans were in power everywhere and they were seemingly taken over by ideas that ran counter to traditional Republican positions. They used to be for less big government intrusion into our lives. To me that’s usually always a good idea.

So what was up with interfering in matters of who can marry who? That’s a big invasion into personal freedoms and liberties. Those who try to control our personal lives are not only not for traditional Republican values, they’re not even really for American values. The way I view it, the state has no business in the house let alone the bedroom. The way I would resolve the current controversy would be to insure that secular marriage be open to anyone. And that religious marriage not be infringed upon by the state – to marry or not as their traditions permit. Both religious and secular marriages would be acknowledged as it is now. That, to me, should be the Republican position.

What’s up with the bail outs etc? I hate to say it but the arguments in Congress and on TV miss the more important points. Talking heads and political animals arguing about how much to spend and where are not talking about the basic truth – that when more dollars get printed, the less each dollar is worth. With trillions of dollars being manufactured to pay for bail outs and other tasks, each dollar buys less stuff. Not only have we given gazillionaires our tax dollars, we’ve made each dollar we still posses just about worthless. Saving and creating jobs may be an appropriate government intrusion in extraordinary times, but to do so in a way that makes our money worthless benefits no one in the long and endangers the nation. A return to real money – where the value is not up for discussion is the only protection a wage earner really has. That, to me, should be the Republican position.

What’s up with rebuilding infrastructure? The best way to insure we’ll have a 20th century transportation system in the 21st century is to rebuild the existing infrastructure. I thought by now we’d be flying around in personal (automobile-size) vehicles. There’s no reason we can’t be building vehicles that use magnetic fields for flight and navigation… okay maybe I’m getting ahead of things. The point is that it seems easier to get to the freaking moon than it does to get from coast to coast. Who’s thinking about that stuff? Constantly widening roads and bridges that devour the land with all the intersecting attributes of the same chains of crappola shops and fast (nutritionally worthless genetically modified and just plain bad) food restaurants can’t be the next best hope for our nation’s infrastructure. That, to me, should be a Republican concern.

What’s up with health care? In a world where even the good guys (National Public Radio, Farm Aid etc.) are sponsored and funded by organizations more powerful than any nation, it’s hard to imagine that the bottom line will not be what’s profitable, instead of what is beneficial. Can the two co-exist? Sure. Do they? No. The sad truth looks to be that it’s more profitable to have a nation filled with people who are in bad health, than a nation of healthy people. The current administration and the Congress has been talking about how to make health care accessible to everyone, because they all know that these multinational organizations will be more than happy to provide long term drugs and services to a nation that permits and even encourages bad health whether or not a new health care plan comes into being. It’s a win – win for government, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, lawyers and agriculture. Only you lose.

The march has already begun around the world to outlaw the use of natural medicines – vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other plants so that you will become a criminal and a law breaker when you try to care for your own family in your own way. You are no longer responsible for yourself or your family, as the state has in no uncertain terms made it clear that you belong to the nation, and the nation has every right to protect you and your family from yourselves. The child in the midwest with cancer forced to undergo chemo and radiation being only the latest example. Is this not a cause for some loyal opposition? Where the hell are these guys when you need them? It’s not a matter of being right or wrong. I’ve been both many times. It’s a matter of having a real contest of ideas between different opinions. Sadly the Republican voice has drifted off to Neverland while the larger issues of what health care actually is gets run over by arguments of how and who will pay for it.

I want government and big business out of my garden. I want insurance companies out of my way when I go visit my doc. I want to pilot my cool 21st century flying electro-magnetic car. I want real money. And I want to get out of the business of being in politics in either party. But, someone has to say something. And these are just a few of the things I think need to be said. There’s more… Wars, interventions, useless government agencies, education policies, privacy issues, an end to criminalization of personal choice things… all kinds of stuff.

Granted I’ve had two cups of coffee this morning, so I’ve gone on longer than I should have. And like i noted above, I don’t expect to be right on anything. I’m perfectly capable of listening to a good argument and changing my mind. I’m not a piece of stone. Please feel free to take issue with me on anything – I enjoy changing my mind. I just wouldn’t expect anything beyond a good friendly listen. There’s more to this world than getting involved but there’s times you just feel like you have to do something, say something or be somebody – however uncalled for. There is, in my view a larger bigger picture where we are all stuck on some little tiny world in a very big universe of unimaginable largeness. Like ants figuring out which way back to the ant hill, our journeys however big they may seem to us, are small in the big picture of things.

That’s no excuse not to get back to the hill… An ant’s gotta do what an ant’s gotta do. Keeping the big picture in mind, knowing there’s more to life than arguing about everything, but maintaining the basic nature of a free and democratic nation, taking care of each other in ways that encourage security, prosperity and tranquility – Freedom, Liberty, Justice – You know, all the good stuff, these are worth talking about. I’ll go on talking and thinking about these things wherever I think they need to be heard, even though I know full well, they won’t be inviting me to any clambakes or anything. Good thing I got my own clams… adg permalink | comments (82) For Iran & For The World

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