This year draws to a merciful close this week for those who identify as socially and politically progressive. While they’re happy to send a sometimes frustrating, often infuriating and mostly befuddling year into the past, they're also aware that the mere turn of a single page on the calendar does not ensure things will get better. Their charge is to undo the recent undoings of years’ worth of liberal advances and they understand that’s going to take time.
But, what if things could immediately get better, just from a single wish made with a kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day? What if their savory good luck bowl of black-eyed peas truly had some magic in them? Houston Press asked some left-leaning music friends what they want for the new year. With a single wish, what would they hope for? We got everything from “Weed, weed and, umm, more weed,” to “world peace, end world hunger,…” to “To have one MAGA-loving Trump supporter openly admit: ‘I made a huge mistake....’" A few of our friends expounded on their thoughts. Happy New Year, everyone.
My Wish: Free College for Every U.S. Citizen by Cassandra Chiles
Cassandra Chiles is guitarist for and founder of Giant Kitty, one of Houston’s prominent music acts. Her group has been featured in Billboard, scads of music blogs and, of course, the Houston Press. The band’s new album, Rampage, releases in January.
“The cost of higher education has been skyrocketing upward for years, weighing students with heavy debt just as they are starting out in life. Meanwhile, politicians gripe and moan about high-end and high-paying skilled jobs being sourced out to other nations. Higher education, including vocational training, is more critical now than ever, not just for someone who would like the chance at a decent paying job to provide for their family, but also to provide the skills needed to succeed in a profession or trade. But how can we expect students with minimal financial means who want to improve themselves to be burdened with endless debt for many years after they graduate?
A well educated workforce is an asset to our nation, to allow us to be innovators, and have people achieve financial security with decent paying jobs. A Georgetown University study found college graduates earn on average $1 million more in earnings over their lifetime. And according to the Bureau of Labor the unemployment rate for people with a high school degree (or less) is three times higher when compared to people who attend college. College should be free to every high school graduate through either our nation’s excellent community colleges or four-year state schools. Imagine the productivity from a more well informed and educated workforce. Think also of the impact in peoples' lives of not starting out life with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The financial freedom and knowledge to innovate, start dream businesses or provide for families. College isn’t for everyone I guess, so I don’t want people to think I am saying you can’t be successful or happy without it. But why not give people the opportunity to sharpen the skills they need to succeed in life?”
My Wish: Replacement of Representative Democracy with a Form of Direct Democracy by Josh Kirby
Josh Kirby heads Ludlow, a Denver-based “anarcha folk punk” act. Its Bandcamp tag reads, “We are anti - capitalism, sexism, racism, transphobia, body shame, prisons, and police - we sing songs about it.” The band’s latest collection of songs about these subjects is Destroy What Destroys You. Ludlow begins a new tour in support of the album on New Year’s Day.
“What do I wish for in 2018? Well, the first things that come to mind are things like: healthcare, education, reformation of policing, abolition of the prison industry, the wealth gap, climate change, ending racism and sexism… I mean, there’s a whole list of things to wish for in 2018. But for me, I imagine these inequalities as ‘fruit from the poisoned tree,’ as artifacts of our society and the way that we organize it. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to think of better ways of organizing our lives and I think one of the strongest desires that I have, what I wish for 2018, is the replacement of representative democracy with other forms of direct democracy.
We no longer have representatives that come from our own backyards, that know the day-to-day lives of their constituency. They are bred in suburbia behind gates and security cameras, they are primped at Ivy League schools and in academies and yet they claim to have the know-how to represent workers and the poor because they majored in political science. Because they know the intricacies of a system hidden behind closed doors. Because they were tracked into leadership programs in the same way that our kids are tracked into prisons. They are a dime a dozen. You know who I am talking about. Representative democracy is ancient and Rome keeps falling over and over again.
Direct democracy, community organizing, and keeping our economies local is what I want to see in 2018. I want to see more people trading amongst themselves, growing their own food, buying clothes and other goods that their friends have made. No more buying brand clothing that some woman in Bangladesh made thirty cents for. No more voting for candidates who are out of touch with the needs of the people.”
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My Wish: No, Really, I Wish Mike Pence Becomes President by Chops McChopperson
McChopperson, of Houston band Cake Rangers, wrote his own bio line, which follows: Chops currently abuses amplifiers and terrorizes local sound guys in Cake Rangers. Their next show is Friday, January 5th at The White Swan. They can be found online on Bandcamp, Facebook and Instagram.
“A curious reticence has become fashionable in certain corners of the Left concerning the theoretical impeachment of the 45th President, because the orange bag of diarrhea’s immolation would lead to Governor Pray The Gay Away becoming president. This is the kind of stupid, nothing-is-perfect-and-the-sky-is-falling thinking that led a million and a half people to sacrifice Hillary Clinton on the altar of Dr. Jill “Let’s Give Homeopathy A Shot, Guys!” Stein. I wish my fellow leftists would drop this and that next year we’re all complaining about how a sentient bowl of vanilla ice cream just pardoned Archie Bunker’s billionaire alter-ego.”