In 2005 I embarked on the longish trip to Milton Keynes to see Green Day play. They were touring arguably their greatest work – punk rock opera American Idiot. The album documented the lives of a disenchanted American youth during the George W Bush era.
The last song Green Day played before their encore was Minority off the album Warning. It was a much extended version and in the middle, Billie Joe Armstrong interjected with the following:
Remember one thing. Regardless of who the powers that be are, the people you elect, the people I elect in to office, remember – you have the fucking power, we’re the fucking leaders, don’t let these bastards dictate your life and try to tell you what to do! Alright?!
To an extent, I think it’s a sentiment that we can all relate to. It may not seem it when there is someone in power who we can’t really affect, but it is the system and democracy in a lot of countries (although, obviously and regrettably not enough) that puts these people where they are, and it’s that power that lies with the people.
I was listenting t’wireless earlier and someone rang in to complain about the negative press Trump and Brexit were getting in the media, complaining that it was bias rather than a representation of opinion. It is a curious anomaly that despite the election of Trump and Britain’s leaving of the EU, they appear to not be the popular decision.
The other interesting anomaly is one based in semantics. The radio caller called the protesters “do-gooders”. This is splitting hairs, but if the minority are do-gooders and sarcastically recognised as doing the right thing, that must make the majority do-baders. It adds further weight to the idea of rebellious votes against a cause rather than for another.
The anti-Trump Resist campaigners are speaking up against the popularist vote and it seems to be the case at the moment, as it was with Brexit, that anyone getting air time is indeed on the side of the loser.
That’s why I think that Billie Joe’s comment about us being the leaders is the most important part of what he said. For me, a good leader is someone who sets an example and brings people together. That’s the reason I don’t think Trump and Brexit were the right decisions (personally) and one of the reasons I actually agree with the protests.
I’m not convinced, from what I’ve seen, that they will have any influence whatsoever of the people that they’re aimed at. When you have two movements in Trump and Brexit that sold themselves on being anti-establishment, doing the opposite of the loudest people to speak seems like a fairly normal course of action.
However, if a protest can bring people together to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again or, in other words, that it is a protest for the long term rather than the short, then it will be a good thing. It needs, though, to be a protest for something rather than against it.