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Culture & Religion

Henry Rollins: America the Selfish

Let’s inject a little lifeblood into the 2012 presidential race. 
What’s the Big Idea? 

The writing’s on the wall. The 2012 presidential race is shaping up to be a truly dispiriting, lackluster slog. Herman Cain and Rick Perry keep making news for all the wrong reasons. Like the “Red Shirts” in a Star Trek landing party, they’re both conspicuously doomed. In our heart of hearts, we know it’s going to come down to Obama – whose soaring proposals of the 2008 campaign have been, for the most part, stuck in Beltway traffic for four years – and Romney, whose chief selling point is that he’s probably not a raving lunatic. The nation deserves better. 

Big Think would like to inject a little lifeblood into the campaign trail. Like his hero, Abraham Lincoln, our candidate is an autodidact with strong convictions and an open mind. A tireless, passionate problem-solver who’s not afraid to ask the tough questions and hash out solutions mano a mano with his fiercest opponents. Most importantly, perhaps, he believes in America’s promise and is mad as hell about the many ways in which our nation has gone off the rails. We’re talking, of course, about Henry Rollins, one-man media industry and former frontman of the hardcore punk band, Black Flag.


What’s the Significance? 

Henry’s pacifist agenda is well documented. Occupants, his recently released book of travel photographs and essays, unflinchingly investigates hidden corners of many war and crisis-wracked regions of the world including Cambodia, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. As president, Henry’s first order of business would be to repair our badly damaged international image and bring our troops home from costly, far-flung, unwinnable wars.

But what of the war of words that continues to paralyze US politics, over the limits of Federal power and responsibility to intervene in our lives? A self-made man –musician, author, spoken-word artist, actor, publisher, and activist – Henry is all about personal responsibility, but he’s no hardcore libertarian. He views patriotism as a fierce commitment to our collective national well being: 

Henry Rollins: This is not a nanny state.  The people’s investment is in its government and the government’s investment is in its people.  So the government should be saying “get your education because we need you to steer this country.” Education and opportunity were the birth of the middle class – and that made America this great powerhouse. Now many people want to get around it and basically say “I got mine, so you have to deal with yours.”

On days when I’m frustrated with some people I say “Let’s go this Ron Paul, Ayn Rand route and let’s see how long you last.”  Without the power of government to help, the freedom and rugged individualism some people claim to seek will be that which kills them.

And so when some politicians say when a hurricane comes through Texas New York’s tax dollars shouldn’t be diverted to Texas to help, because Texas is Texas, 10th amendment,  I say “No! It’s the United States.”  We’re a team, America. I want to help the people in Texas.  They are my neighbors.  Take my California tax dollars to help these people.  I don’t want to see them flooded.  I want to see them rescued and that’s where we stick up for each other.  

That is what the founding fathers (who some people like to mention so often), that is what they were beating each other up over in un-air-conditioned rooms in sweltering Philadelphia – that we stick together through thick and thin.  That, to me, is being patriotic.  That is what paying taxes is all about.  That is what you see in great American cities.  You see people looking out for one another.  When we lose that, we lose the whole ball of wax.



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