19 October 2012, 5:44 PM
So, Your Humble Blogger was, as so often, browsing through the Naxos Music Library for something pleasant to listen to at the desk, when suddenly I came across Music for Democrats. In case you thought it might refer to lower-case democrats, who appear to be members of My Party merely because the American Patriotic Classics label uses upstyle in its album titles, they have thoughtfully placed a donkey on the cover. A rather cross-looking donkey, actually. The other one has a kinda sulky-looking elephant.
But here’s the thing: the music is the same. It’s the same album, being sold under two covers. Not a particularly good album: military band arrangements of some typical patriotic songs (“The Star Spangled Banner” , “The Stars and Stripes Forever” , “America the Beautiful”) some more obscure marches (“National Spirit March” , “President Garfield’s Inauguration March” , “The Presidential Polonaise”) and some more recent tunes (“This Land is Your Land” , “Gd Bless the USA”) all recorded by various military bands of our armed forces. But the same.
Yes, the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants sing Woody Guthrie on both albums. No, they don’t sing all the verses. On either album.
So, here’s my question. On the one hand, this is some sort of bizarre attempt to make a buck off people’s political tribalism. And a lazy attempt, as well. I mean, it wouldn’t be that hard to come up with some actual Music for Democrats and Music for Republicans, with only a trifle of overlap. Even within the military-band stuff, it should be possible for a clever person to come up with something vaguely humorous.
On the other hand, you could look at it as a fundamental insight: people in the Other Party can listen to the same music as the people from My Party. Republicans can listen to Woody Guthrie; Democrats can listen to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Political preferences do no have to dictate our tastes in music or art. We do not blacklist songs for being politically incorrect—or we don’t have to.
On the other other hand, there really are tribal differences between Republicans and Democrats. The Parties exist for a reason, and people do join them and stick with them (or abandon them) for reasons, and those reasons do not have to be completely unmoored from culture, either.
Mostly, though? It’s just so lazy.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,