As the presidential campaign sinks further and further into schoolyard insults and frank remarks about male anatomy, I’ve sensed that something is missing in the campaign. While the democratic process is important and who we select as our next leader is also important, I’ve got a feeling that 98% of what is said and done on the campaign trail is of little relevance to the real important things in life.
Does it matter about how much Donald Trump says he has? Does it matter that Hillary is not personable? Does it matter that Bernie calls himself a Democratic Socialist? Does it matter that Marco Rubio is married to a Dolphins cheerleader? Does it matter that Ted Cruz… made machine gun bacon? (No, I think it’s stupid, but it doesn’t mean anything.)
There’s just something missing in the message, the process, and the news cycles: an acknowledgement of how damn complex everything is. I’m not talking about the intricacies of finance or trade. I’m not talking about giving shout outs in speeches to people who overcame obstacles and now support candidate X.
No, I’m talking about the little things that can’t be summed up in policy: poetry, beauty, and how everything can seem so perfect and awful at the very same time. It’s a hard message to craft, I get it, but the messages of us vs. them, taking our country back, and “Make America great again” all seem to miss the point of why we’re all here.
I stumbled upon something yesterday that hits that message I was searching for.
Duluth fiddler Gaelyn Lea won NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert for her song “Someday we’ll Linger in the Sun”, a contest for budding musicians to showcase their talent. Do yourself a favor and watch her performance. It’s beautiful, haunting, and something that will stick around in your brain for a while.
She has a good story that I’d recommend you read.
Trent Gilliss of the show On Being explained the feeling better than I could.
I sense that Gaelynn Lea knows things beyond our ken. I imagine she experiences the human body and the human spirit in a way that few of us may ever be privy to, and her inner ear listens to the heartbeat of a place and a people in a way that manifests itself in the music she creates: gritty, filled with sorrow and heartache, and a yearning hope that an authentic life is one well-lived.
That’s exactly it: a life well lived. All the candidates have fine reasons for running, but are they running for a life well lived? I think ego, selfish ambition, and money play into their decisions more than I think they should.
I’m glad there are people like Lea, who make music and write songs. I love the first verse of her song:
Our love's a complex vintage wine
All rotted leaves and lemon rind
I'd spit you out but now you're mine
Life is hard. Life is complex. I wish our presidential campaigns acknowledged that.