On the day before the most important election of our generation, I wanted to share something relevant to the issues concerning voters. The Airborne Toxic Event, never ones to shy away from getting political, released a new song a couple weeks ago that touches on a lot of those issues. Songwriter/Singer Mikel Jollett also penned an essay about the song, which I will share here:
My family is Jewish, Latino, African-American, working class and pissed off. From the moment Donald Trump descended that escalator and declared his candidacy by calling Mexican immigrants rapists, this has been personal for me.
My grandparents were unskilled Italian immigrants that came to this country because they were broke and saw the United States as a land of freedom and opportunity. A place where we could thrive, where their children could do better than they did. My father was a mechanic. My uncle, a mechanic. My grandfather, a mechanic. My grandmother spent her life in America working every day cleaning rooms as a hotel maid. The decision to come to America wasn’t made for them. It was made for me.
Two generations later as a product of Los Angeles public schools, I attended Stanford University and graduated with honors. When I stood in line and received that diploma, I knew that it wasn’t just me standing there. I knew I was the product of the hopes my ancestors carried as they sat in crowded boats, as they worked long hours in menial jobs. So that I could have opportunities they never dreamt of. They placed their hopes, the very lives of their children, in the founding documents of this nation which said: no matter your background, if you work hard you can live in peace and expect prosperity for you and your family.
That’s what I see when I see fields of workers picking crops in the San Joaquin Valley. That is what I see in the throngs of men eager to jump in a truck in a parking lot at Home Depot — just itching for work. There’s nobility in hard work. There’s dignity in it. Because we don’t just work for ourselves. We work for our children and our children’s children.
It is un-American to threaten the liberty of these people, to demonize them in sick ways that equate them with rapists and murderers.
The most important work we will ever do is that which ensures that all people in the United States — regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, have a real chance to get ahead. That is what generations of soldiers fought and died for. That is what makes us uniquely American and why the entire world still looks to the United States a beacon of truth and freedom and progress.
It’s an idea worth defending and it’s not given freely. There are thieves at the gate: hate-mongers, bigots and liars who seek to divide us, to tear down our sacred institutions with their panic and their fear.
After all who is free in America if everybody isn’t? How am I safe from police brutality if a black man that matches my description in every way but one isn’t? How am I free to practice (or not practice) my religion if proud Muslim-Americans are placed one watchlists, profiled and demonized? What do I have to gain as a man, if an equally-qualified woman makes 79 cents on the dollar for the exact same work? What do any of us in a nation of immigrants have to say to immigrant families, new to this country looking for a better life for their children, if we turn their pain and marginalization into a wedge issue to scare people they’ve never met in hopes of using that fear to win an election?
Who is free in America if everybody isn’t?
This election is a unique threat like no other in American history. The very founding ideals of our democracy are at stake. But it’s also a unique opportunity. If we can just stand up together, now and say in one voice — white, black, latino, asian, native american, man, woman, gay, straight, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Agnostic— that this is our country, a land where bigotry has no place. If we can let the ideals of our founding documents guide us and remain in our hearts — we can, as others have done, defeat these forces of hatred and preserve the American idea for us, our children, and the generations to follow in whose trust we find ourselves, and whose innocence and opportunity we must defend.
This is why we say America is the only country in the world founded on an idea. It’s a simple idea: freedom and hard work equals prosperity for all, no matter who you are or where you come from. That was true for my Italian grandparents and it’s true immigrant families now. That is who we are. That is what America is. That’s why this is personal. For all of us. That’s why the Donald Trump is not a patriot, why he is uniquely anti-American in a dangerous and hateful way. And that’s why we must do everything in our power to ensure this man doesn’t become president. No less than the soul of our country is at stake.
– Mikel Jollett