The other day, the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song Who’ll Stop The Rain popped up on my car’s radio. It’s a great old hit written by John Fogerty just after he returned from Woodstock and it was on the Credence 1970 album Cosmos’s Factory. The rain during Woodstock had turned the whole place (a farm in upstate New York) into a sea of mud and this song is a reminder of that and of course, the elephant in the room that was always there – Vietnam.
I’ve been brooding over the words of this song for a few days now. And sadly, the words still ring as true in 2017 as they did in 1970.
Don’t misunderstand my intent here; this memory is not a happy nostalgic look back in time at all. The era in which Fogerty wrote this song was an awful and turbulent time in America. There were student uprisings aplenty and one that was particularly tragic at Kent State in May of 1970 (“four dead in Ohio”). Violent protest was everywhere. The mid to late sixties had teed all of this up with Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution, the proliferation of recreational drug use, and the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. There were race riots and school bussing was begun to desegregate the public schools. Nixon was re-elected in a landslide in 1972 on a law and order platform and he resigned in disgrace in 1974 for covering up Watergate.
It was a chaotic, shifting sands below your feet time; don’t let your Boomer parents and grandparents get away with their “groovy” nostalgia. It was a bad time in the country. In retrospect many positive shifts in our society on race and gender began to take hold in that era, But it was an inflection point in history and inflection points are never pleasant.
So why am I bringing this up now? Because we are at another critical moment in history and once again, we see directionless chaos with no leadership in sight. What did John Fogerty see when he looked toward Washington D.C. for answers?
I went down Virginia,
Seekin’ shelter from the storm.
Caught up in the fable,
I watched the tower grow.
Five year plans and new deals,
Wrapped in golden chains.
What he saw was an ivory tower or a tower of Babel – you choose which one, they’re equally bad. Fogerty’s Washington is either elitist and out of touch or it’s everyone talking at once in many different tongues and no one listening. Sound familiar? This is pretty much the same scene right now with different actors. He’s spot on for today’s version of Washington.
So Who will stop the rain? Good question Fogerty. Who in Washington will be bold enough to take the reigns of leadership in this directionless Tower of Babel we are witnessing every day?
Not the Democrats that’s for sure. They’re so busy trying to “resist” Trump that they have forgotten all legislation and their important role as a check to the majority party. It’s their job to take the bills that are sent up to them and do some bipartisan work to make sure they are representing the folks back home and America in general. But no, it’s all about getting prime media spots and pious pearl clutching.
Not the Republicans. There’s no leadership there either. They’ve been begging for contol of both Houses and a Republican President for years. But they were so used to leading from behind as the minority, they forgot to have any legislation ready to go for “Repeal And Replace,” Tax Reform or The Wall. Pathetic.
Not Donald Trump – no siree- he thinks that government is like business and that you direct folks through fiat. Here’s the thing, no sucessful business is run that way, you have to persuade and even compromise to gain followers. He cannot seem to lead the Executive Branch and was ill- prepared for government. He should have at least watched the movie 1776 about the Founding Father’s and their series of compromises just to start the experiment. Just how did he think that the “Swamp” would be drained, one tweet at a time? Terrible.
Not the Media – They’re like a unruly crowd in your favorite western. They’re looking for a hanging and they’re going to get it by God, come Hell or high water.
Facts? Who needs ‘em? Making stuff up from anonymous unchecked leaks is the new normal.
Spineless leadership is not just an American phenomenon. Last night, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May threw away her Conservative majority by greedily trying to grab an even bigger majority. She called a “snap election” when she didn’t have to do it and paid the price by losing much of the majority and is facing calls for her resignation. She thought very little of the country, particularly one that is facing uncertainty over Brexit and has just suferred two horrible terrorist attacks.
However, for a real paucity of leadership, you’d have to look no further than her predecessor, David Cameron, who was so sure the Brexit vote would go his way (Remain in the EU), that he failed to put a Plan B in place just in case he was wrong. In a fit of ego driven pique, he resigned, along with the former London Mayor and the architect of Brexit, UKIP leader Nigel Farage. It seems that they had no plan either.
Maybe it was just another Tower of Babel?
You couldn’t make this stuff up. So Who will be the one to stop the rain? Who will take us past this critical moment in time when we are very unsure of our future?
Long as I remember
The rain been comin’ down.
Clouds of myst’ry pourin’
Confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages,
Tryin’ to find the sun;
And I wonder,
Still I wonder,
Who’ll stop the rain?
John Fogerty never got the answer to what seems like a legitimate question. Will we?
Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm
Photo Credit: Claus Tom Christensen/ Flickr.com