Between now and inauguration day on January 20, there will be plenty of handwringing and desperate explaining. How did the polls get it so wrong? How did the media miss what was happening with the electorate? We’ll be told that things will be okay and that America has faced many challenges in its existence. “This too shall pass,” they’ll say, “America will endure.” Meanwhile, anxiety will build as the reality of, er, a reality TV star as Commander-in-Chief sinks in. As of January 20, Donald Trump will have the codes to America’s nuclear arsenal.
Read that last sentence again. If it doesn’t give you pause, then read it until the concept sinks in. And then consider that during a security briefing, Trump asked “If we have nukes, why can’t we use them?” not once but three times.
A Republican-controlled Congress and Senate bodes ill for women, minorities, immigrants and the enviroment. Markets around the world will roil. Is Trump isolationist or interventionalist? Depends on his mood, it seems. And what will a Trump presidency do to America’s standing in the world? China is lovin’ it. So is Russia.
In other words, it appears we’re in for at least four years of fear, anger, anxiety and confusion.
On the plus side, there will be benefits:
- The jobs of political cartoonists are safe.
- Prepare for a new golden age of comedy.
- And rock (and to a perhaps lesser extent, hip hop) is going to explode.
Music has always been a way for artists–especially young artists–to express what they’re feeling about the world around them. And given that most young people tend to drift to the left side of the political spectrum, they are often very pissed off with a right-leaning status quo. In fact, if we go back in history, we’ll see that when strong conservative elements occupy either the White House or 10 Downing Street, rock gets harder, faster and more aggressive.
- 1968: Rock’n’roll–derided as a disposable form of kids music since its birth in the 1950s–became just “rock,” a serious artform with the power to transform society after the election of Richard Nixon.
- 1974: The first stirrings of punk following Watergate and the breakdown of the post-war consensus in the UK. Two years later, punk explodes.
- 1980: The Reagan-Thatcher years begin and we enter some dire years in the Cold War. We see the beginnings of what would eventually be called “alternative music.” Hardcore punk comes of age.
- 1990: Years of conservative rule on both sides of the Atlantic (not to mention a terrible recession and the first Gulf war) result in the rise of alt-rock, especially grunge. Madchester and Britpop follow in the UK.
- 2000: The W years. Indie rock begins its surge while mainstream rock is dominated by groups like Audioslave, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.
Put away the banjos and mandolins, kids. Time to express how pissed off you are. It’s time to rock.
Additional Reading: What songwriters can learn from Donald Trump.