From the “I love show tunes” department
Two weeks ago I saw a the Chicago run of Hamilton: An American Musical.1
It deserves all the accolades and awards that it has garnered. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Alex Lacmoire, Andy Blankenbuehler and the rest of the team have created a true “cultural experience”. It is up their with Alvin Ailey’s Revelations 2.
As a Canadian, I was surprised how moved I was with emotion. Hamilton is the type of show, much like Revelations above, that will continue to give more each time you see it. It’s like the many layers of an onion.
I had listened to the soundtrack many times (Jen was obsessed with it). That said, I walked away from the performance stunned due to the gravitas and emotional weight of seeing it live. I hope that the DVD release of the original cast carries the same weight.
You walk away with great hope, optimism and admiration for the country south of us. Hamilton inspires a sense of nobility.
If you can, just go see it.
From the “Lows of the lows” whereby I talk about the US Election
In a stunning contrast to the week before, the next Wednesday I’m greeted with the Surprise-Non-Surprise of America’s next President-Elect, Donald J. Trump.
I did not see the outcome of the 2016 presidential election at all. The longer I search for reasons, the more I realize that I am totally out of touch as a well-to-do father living in an urban city like Toronto.3
The best analysis I can find as to what happened is Michael Moore’s article, “Five Reasons Why Trump Will Win“. This was piece was written this summer, months before the election. It’s pretty spot on.
The frustration amongst Liberals is palpable. Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter captures a lot of the emotion I’m feeling right now. His calls for action is the right thing to do (it’s in the same spirit, but not as militant or specific as Moore’s 5-point, “Morning After To-Do List” that has been making the rounds in Liberal Social media). For what it’s worth, I don’t necessarily know if what Moore is trumpeting will be helpful, but winning seats and creating obstacles through to the 2018 mid-term elections could energize the democratic populace, I guess.
There will be a lot of consequences when a man is put on the international stage as the leader of the free world who normalizes casual racism, misogyny and hate. It will embolden others.
I like to think that the majority of Trump supporters don’t buy much of his rhetoric; that is, they are not rascist, sexist or xenophobe. That said, the message they sent to Blacks, Muslim, Hispanics, etc. was, “We don’t hate you, we just don’t care about you.” That scares visible minorities, the LGBT communities, etc.
Based on this analysis of Trump by the Atlantic, I doubt that DJT believes much of the rhetoric as well. He is driven by the pursuit to win. However, what he does next is anyone’s best guess.
And, of course, people on the coasts could stand to meet more rural and exurban people, to understand why they are anxious about a changing world and less economic opportunity. But rural and exurban people need to see more of America. People do not understand the depths of how little rural America travels and sees other people and cultures.
The optimist in me feels that this is more about class divide rather than race or gender. Joan C. Williams has an interesting take on it at HBR.org that outlines several reason’s why “white working class” Americans voted an outsider into office.
Is it just a statistical aberration that they cohort falls into white working class americans? Or is there something more sinister than that? Doug Saunders sides with the latter and wrote an amazing piece for the Globe and Mail, entitled, “Whitewashed: the real reason Donald Trump got elected? We have a white extremism problem.”
In particular, he speaks of the radicalization of white voters and quotes Carol Anderson, a historian at Emory University:
You know, if you’ve always been privileged, equality begins to look like oppression. That’s part of what you’re seeing in terms of the [white] pessimism, particularly when the system gets defined as a zero-sum game – that you can only gain at somebody else’s loss.
Moreover, he ends the article with perhaps the saddest truth about the election:
After all, the tragedy this week was not just that a radical faction within the white community broke away from the rest of the United States and elected an extremist, but that they abandoned the Democratic and Republican parties in the process, leaving mainstream politics without a language that can lead to victory.
Making sense of this will take years.
- Thanks to C&C for providing Jen, the kids and I with a place to stay. ↩
- The Ailey company estimates that it has been seen by more than 23 million people in 71 countries — a larger audience than has viewed any other modern dance work. The Washington Post has a lovely piece discussing the history and impact of the seminal work. ↩
- Confirmation bias is definitely a work. Take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s Blue Feed, Red Feed visualization. ↩