I like to think that I have logical, well developed reasons for liking and not liking the things around me. Yet when I really examined why I prefer what I do, the answer was not what I expected – it was a little disappointing to be honest.
Donald Trump and country music have always held a special place in my heart alongside black olives, paper cuts, and other things I don’t like very much. But until recently I’d only assumed I really knew the reasons why.
Music is a an important part of my life. I love to listen to music with my brother Luke who has a great sense for good songs. We enjoy the same kind of stuff. Genre is hard to describe, but it’s something like light, alternative rock. The other day we were listening to “High as a Kite” – Weezer by Weezer, and he said that song, that sound, was the best summation of the music he liked. Mine might be “Up & Up” – Coldplay. Whatever the case, it’s a far cry from the pop-country played on the radio.
Country music actually affects my mood – I just really don’t like it. And I thought that it was the content, namely the lyrics. I thought that the reason I found it distasteful was because the songs were written poorly, or about things I thought were stupid. Being a person who tries to write songs here and there, I pay a lot of attention to words. And for a long time I thought that was the reason I hated country music: it’s bad writing.
But when listening through a playlist I recently made, I realized that I didn’t know what any of the songs were about – I didn’t even recognize the lyrics. When I sit at coffee shops to do homework, there’s almost always music playing. If a song catches my attention, I’ll let my phone listen to it, then screenshot the title and comeback to it later. This was how I made the playlist, and it became obvious that I didn’t screenshot these songs because they were good lyrically…you can never hear words well in coffee shops. So it wasn’t the words at all.
I concluded that I dislike country music (and like other music) largely because of the vibe. All the songs on that playlist were songs I liked because of how they were sang, and how they were played. The vocalists are generally not aggressive, or overbearing, or arrogant. The song sounds like something I can trust. They fit my vibe: mellow, thoughtful, poetic. In country songs, I don’t hear those things that I like. So in the end, it was more my tastes than anything that told me what was good and right in terms of music. I still believe the music I listen to is far superior and more worthwhile than country, but perhaps the reason I think so is different, less arrogant even.
Mr. Donald Trump
I also like politics. When I went to Tri-County Tech, I was part of a club that mostly just met in a classroom to talk about current events. While there, I took a philosophy class in which we read “The Republic,” a book written by Plato about two thousand years ago. In it, Socrates describes his ideal leader, the philosopher king. This ruler is one without falsehood, who refuses to accept what is false and has a love for the truth. He isn’t money-loving or a boaster. He is graceful, high-minded, a friend and relative of truth, justice, courage, and moderation. (485-486). It makes me happy inside thinking of this kind of leader.
In my mind, Mr. Donald Trump is a country song. He too puts me in a bad mood. I fell in love with Socrates’ idea of the philosopher king, and this is clearly not Mr. MAGA. His speeches, his Twitter, his campaign jargon about “making (and now keeping) America great” almost make me nauseous. He is not intellectual – he is not mellow – he is not personable or well spoken. I think we could have picked a better face for our nation.
But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I don’t actually know very much about Mr. Trump’s ideology or policy. I’ve heard his talking points (build the wall – make America great – get better trade deals), but I have very little idea what most of it means. I don’t know what it actually means to have him as our president, what he actually wants to do, or what he is actually about. Perhaps then it’s not so much his content, his policy. Just as with the country music, I am deeply opposed to his vibe. I don’t like how he says things. But from another mouth…who knows?
The bad taste that Trump puts in my mouth is not simply because I have studied his policy and found it wanting. It’s because I’ve heard him speak, read his words, and found them extremely distasteful. That’s not how I would speak at all. And I don’t like country music on my radio. That’s not how I would sing at all. But I’d wager that my decisions to like and not like things are about as reasonable as those who do prefer country music and Donald Trump.
It’s not to say that there are no right answers when it comes to music and politics, only that it’s all too easy to claim the moral high ground without really considering what has led you there. As the Dude would say, “It’s just, like, my opinion, man.” And sometimes I forget that.