These days we have colds that linger. Feet sore from marching. Minds boggled by the long list of bad ideas paraded as policy that make America First. I did not vote for the current President. Indeed, the majority of voters did not vote for him, but the Electoral College gave him more votes that his opponent. And now we have a political migraine and no real antidote. Other than protest and engagement, which actually is a good thing. For too long Americans, particularly liberal or progressive leaning Americans have been complasant or cynical and thus disengaged from politics and in the mean time the right has increased in power. So we now have the perfect storm for all those bad ideas from access to health care to an un-needed border wall are now in play. Also, the current President is calling for the elimination of the NEA, the NEH and the CPB, which is a middle fnger to creative people.
Here’s my NEA story -I applied 13 times before I finally got an NEA grant. The money wasn’t all that much, but it made a difference in the ways in which I was treated as a poet. I came up through the independent literary scene and so had a catch is as catch can kind of artistic life. But the NEA grant was critical because of the recognition it gave me. It is crucial because it funds journals that many of us are published in. At one time, it supported literary organizations across the country so that any one with a thirst for knowledge could take classes, hear writers, build their own idea of literary culture. But more than that, the NEA gave grants to organizations so that all kinds of musics could be presented: classical, jazz, new. Theater companies could mount new work. Galleries that presented work by artists of color or folk artists or craftspeople found support from Seattle to Memphis. That our nation considered cultural activity important enough to fund so that millions could visit galleries and museums, hear concerts, read new books of poetry or fiction, and annually celebrate American culture on the Mall in Washington, DC is extremely significant. It bears out our best ideals and brings forth some of most important ideas. Controversies come and go, but a nation that disrespects its creators: poets, dancers, composers, filmmakers, basket weavers, textile artists, architects, actors, welders, novelists,storytellers is a nation in decline. The NEA reminds us that our greatest measure is the power and glory of our artistic achievements.
Republicans are now the party of the Wealthy Only and a specific kind of wealth. The rest of us do not count. But we do if we protest, engage, and vote the party out. Then the headaches will go away (miraculously)