FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America, Health Care and the Common Life

To really understand the day that the Democrats won the national health care bill for America you really needed to be at the Austin Rodeo.  Sure, there are days when Rodeo-style patriotism could set your jaw muscles to steel, and there are weeks when what it means to be Texan is a (cough, cough) world-historical embarrassment.

But Sunday afternoon when Charley Pride sang his soaring eagle song from that spinning round stage at the rodeo arena, there wasn’t a heart in the house that wasn’t melted into some life-breathing hope that all of us around that dirt-floored arena had something really deep in common.

No doubt I’ve seen some world-class rodeo shows by George Jones and Willie Nelson in that dusty place.  But without subtracting anything from the great native sons, allow me to muse something about the magical and reverent bond that Charley Pride forged with the rodeo audience on Sunday afternoon.

Some of what happened had to do with organic Texas connections.  Charley’s band is mostly from Texas; he wore a fat ring gifted to him by Waylon.  He remembered out loud how he caught an early career break in by singing opening acts for Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours.  Charley and Texas are welded together.

And some of Charley Pride’s art has to do with the way he references his skin color at these 99-percent-white gigs.  There’s the story he tells about the being named an honorary Norwegian by his fans at the Norsk Hostfest of Minot, North Dakota, an honor he cherishes, “although I haven’t quite made the transition completely” he winks as he holds up the back of one hand and rubs it with an instructive circular motion.

But none of these things would make a diff if it weren’t for the way Charley Pride sings.  Much like my first experience with George Jones, there is something you get from the man in person that cannot be recorded.  I don’t know why or how that happens, but it’s one reason why you still need a Live Music Capital of the World.  Something you know about an artist only after you watch the eyes of the audience twinkle back.

It was the white-haired man in the cowboy hat up in section BB that really broke through for me, the way he carried his six or seven decades with dignity.  And the way his lips moved to every word of his favorite Charley Pride song.  Good Lord, he musta sung that song a thousand times in honky-tonks and pickup trucks under the Texas big sky, through who knows what heartaches.

The whole experience, as you can see, put me out onto the thin branch of a long limb.  But there I was feeling more at home than I usually feel anyway, transfixed in a waking dream of possibility.

With that kind of spiritual preparation I just didn’t have any cynical energy to spend on Sunday night as I watched President Barack Obama take the last few steps to the East Room podium with that little springy step, that slight back-and-forth thing he did with his head, I don’t know, like he was about to treat everyone to an unobstructed slam dunk?

While I’m out on this limb where Charley Pride left me, I don’t for a minute think there will be any alternative to lots of hard work for lots of people for lots of years.  I agree with the President when he says nothing was finished Sunday night.  But something was started.  And now that it has been started, I believe it’s something that we could have not done another hour without.

Like 1932 or 1964, the year 2010 has become a new year for the common life of the American people.  And for reasons having nothing to do with Charley Pride, or Barack Obama or even Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, like 1861, this will be a year to decide whether a common life is worth fighting for.

Already, the Texas Governor has issued a midnight statement about how he’s going to lead his state out from under the power of federal “excess” and “overreach.”  After everything that happened on Sunday, I don’t think so much about how awfully hard it’s going to be to dissent from the Governor’s leadership in the coming year.

With Pride, Obama, and Clyburn, I’m beginning to see through the eyes of a new eagle.  What could be more fun than the really hard work of America, far as the eye can fly?

GREG MOSES is editor of TexasWorker.org and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence.  He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com.

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

January 23, 2019
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail