What Would You Say

First of all, before I get to the real subject of this blog post, let’s all agree on one thing. “What Would You Say” is one of the best songs EVER. Of the thousands of songs in my purchased music library, there are only a few where I NEVER skip to the next song when they start playing. This gem by the Dave Matthews Band is one of those songs. If you don’t agree with me, then I think maybe we can’t be friends. Some things are simply too important.

Do those last couple of sentences sound like our modern world of politics? Of course they do. Seemingly every day, we find a new way to explode into further division, and all too often, our President is the one to light the match. The latest such incident occurred when NBC reporter Peter Alexander asked a question that, prior to 2016, would have been considered a softball by anyone on either side of the aisle:

“What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now, who are scared?”

This is what the President said (I listened to the clip and wrote it down):

“I say that you are a terrible reporter, that’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re sending out to the American people. The American people are looking for answers, and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism.”

So first, analyst of all things that I am, let’s break that down. The President said he would say to Americans that we are all terrible reporters. Well that makes me feel like he’s talking right over my head – I’m not a reporter at all, although I’m sure if I were, I’d be a terrible one. The bad signal thing, I’m not really sure where to start with that – perhaps someone cut off the Presidential limo on the way to the press conference after signaling they were turning the other way.

But then there’s the second to the last sentence, and that’s the one that intrigues me the most. It’s basically restating what Mr. Alexander was getting at in the first place. Many of us ARE scared (even if YOU aren’t), and many of us ARE looking for answers and for hope. So what would YOU say to THOSE people?

Let me rewrite that a second so it’s now clear that I am speaking directly to you, the reader of this blog post: what would YOU say to those people?

What if I asked every adult American with the ability to speak, what would he or she say to scared Americans right now? I would fully expect millions of unique takes on that. But how many would answer with “you’re a terrible reporter”? Is that how YOU would answer? And to be fair, think back to before the actual question was even asked and the actual response was even given – before it would have even occurred to you to respond with “you’re a terrible reporter”. If I were President – a truly horrifying concept for everyone involved, here is how it might have gone down:

“What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now, who are scared?”

“I would say that this virus has offered us an opportunity to do something that seemingly nothing else could – a chance to break through our divisions and recognize we are all Americans, and we are all fighting this common foe. And I would say we have a long way to go before we win this fight – but we will win it. I want the American people to know that their Government is doing everything it can to protect them from this threat, and that it will continue to do so until the threat has been mitigated. We have the greatest health care workers in the world, the strongest medical research community in the world, and the most resilient people in the world. We will prevail, because we are the greatest nation on Earth.”

I even threw a couple of “Murica” sentences in there at the end, because dammit, that’s what many of us want to hear right now. Don’t make us promises nobody can keep, don’t give us specifics nobody can predict, just tell us we’re awesome and we’ll get through this. If ever there was a time for rah-rah speeches devoid of real content, that time is now.

What would YOU say?

Here’s what Dave Matthews would say:

“I don’t understand at best. I cannot speak for all the rest. Every dog has its day. Every day has its way of being forgotten. Rip away the tears. Drink a hope for happy years. And you may find a lifetime’s passed you by. Everyone goes in the end. Don’t cut my life line.”

What would YOU say?

If you a monkey on a string?

That’s a thick string but you get the point.

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