Category Archives: voting

ANTHEM

Earlier today, I wrote an answer to Mark Aldrich who had sent me a video of Leonard Cohen singing “Democracy” as an answer to my yesterday’s essay entitled “The Three Stooges and Campaign Reform.” In today’s earlier post, I admitted I had more to say but had run out of time to say it, but that I’d be back.  Well, here I am.  I’m baa-ack!  Since Mark answered me with a song, I would like to reciprocate with lyrics by Leonard Cohen that I think offer a bit more hope that the lyrics of “Democracy.”

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“Anthem”

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government —
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.
That’s how the light gets in.

                                                                                         –Leonard Cohen

Cohen is admitting that nothing is perfect and never has been.  If it weren’t for the evil in the world, good would not exist; for the very existence of the world depends on the movement between yin and yang, anima and animus, light and dark, positive and negative, good and evil.  But there is a crack in everything.  Both the good and the evil are vulnerable to permeation by the other.  The very liberty bell is, in fact, cracked.

I think he is saying to take heart.  The I Ching states that the universe is a pendulum and that whenever one force gets to its summit, the laws of nature dictate that it begins to change into its opposite, swinging farther and farther over to its antithesis. The “widowhood” of a government marks the end of its power.  Is Cohen saying that it is necessary for a corrupt government to fall in order to restore the good of the people?  Perhaps. But all he commits to is the effect it has had on him, personally.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

It certainly sounds like Cohen is talking about the hypocrisy of those who profess to be religious yet serve their own interest instead of the good of the people.  This thundercloud that is happening–is it merely his personal little cloud?  He says they are going to hear from him, and in this song, they certainly have.  But is he talking about a larger cloud?  One that will cause people to vote in the interest of the masses for once instead of the good of the vocal few who have convinced them that to vote to further the causes of the powerful and wealthy is in the best interest of ordinary citizens?

If liberty is cracked to the point where it is no longer functional, he calls upon people to still “Ring the bells that still can ring.”  In short, to do what we can.  No, our government is not perfect because nothing is perfect.  It is just not the way the world is set up.  We can take what power we do have, however, and vote.  This is a power that hasn’t been taken away from us.  If only, if only, the great majority of citizens would allow themselves to be enlightened–to let the light in–perhaps the change back towards democracy could start to happen.

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