Inspiration for “TrumpNation II”
by Per Haaland
The melody and some of the lyrics for the first verse of “TrumpNation II” came to me in a dream a few months before the 2016 presidential election. A nonchalant, malevolent cowboy/con man character was singing: “I’ll be the sheriff who shoots first and asks the questions later / in my Western there’ll be no reprieve for demonstrators.”
For several days following the election, I woke up with a combination of dread and depression unlike anything I have ever experienced. The unthinkable had happened. Now we were facing the real possibility of seeing the grand American experiment come to an end…
As someone who immigrated to this country and consciously chose to become a U.S. citizen, I suddenly felt an enormous appreciation for our country; for the fragile, hard won structures of democracy; for the rule of law, and for the philosophy that has guided the development of this country. And so I created my first overtly political song and music video, “TrumpNation.”
As I write this – to mark the revision of that work into “TrumpNation II” – the 2020 presidential election is only weeks away. Our nation is suffering more chaos then even I could have imagined. In The New Yorker editorial (Oct. 5, 2020) our craving for “restorative calm” is eloquently expressed: “Trump’s contempt for science and the basic welfare of Americans is so profound that, through an enraging combination of incompetence, indifference and stupidity he has failed to meet the pitiless demands of a viral pandemic.” In his 2016 campaign, Trump showed us clearly who he was – a bigoted, deceitful narcissist. What our country has shown us since his election is the extent of the “failures and inequalities that have been festering in American life for decades.” The question we are now faced with, regardless of the outcome of the election, is how to finally address these failures and inequalities.
While “TrumpNation II” is angry, hopefully it also serves as a rallying cry for action and unity, and for building bridges between all who cherish our republic and the values for which it stands.