I know it’s hard to remember–because these days, new outrages emerge practically by the minute–but early this month, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act: a brazen effort to reduce both millionaires’ tax burdens and the federal government’s social welfare responsibilities by killing poor people, which might have been a brilliant work of Swiftian satire if anyone involved had a sense of humor. And look, we know, the bill probably won’t make it through the Senate (where, one hopes, a few Republicans might even have the decency to read the fucking thing), and even if it does pass, it will surely end up with the Supreme Court. But it’s hard to take comfort from these Civics 101 platitudes when American democracy is falling apart around our ears and our elected officials are throwing keggers celebrating the imminent demise of our grandparents.
Basically, it’s time to prepare ourselves for the possibility of death; in our rapid descent to Third-World autocracy status, our only refuges are righteous anger and gallows humor. So here are 17 songs about illness and disease: a condition with which most of us will probably get a lot more familiar if the AHCA continues unabated. At least we’ll have something to listen to while we waste away on our death beds!
On November 8, 2016, the unthinkable happened: Donald J. Trump, a wig-wearing, sentient jack’o’lantern whose only qualifications for the office were a reality television career and a simmering contempt for brown people, was elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Ever since then, the unthinkable has continued to happen with numbing regularity. The executive chair of a racist chain email disguised as a news source was appointed to the position of White House Senior Counselor and Chief Strategist. A literal neo-Nazi rally was held with impunity in Washington, D.C., ending with shouts of “hail Trump!” The Senate held confirmation hearings for a potential Attorney General who previously lost a district court nomination due to allegations of racism; along with a potential Secretary of Labor who wants to eliminate the federal minimum wage, and a potential Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who has actually gone on record saying that he is not qualified to run a federal agency. Oh, and did we mention that the Republican-led Congress is halfway through repealing the Affordable Care Act, without even the slightest glimmer of a plan to replace it with?
So, yes, this country is going to shit, and we hope every day that a meteor will fall to Earth and put us all out of our misery. But we also don’t want to succumb entirely to cynicism and apathy. We’re mindful of something El-P from radical hip-hop duo Run the Jewels told NPR’s Morning Edition last week: that “it’s a mistake to let our history off the hook so much so to say that Trump is introducing the idea of dread into American culture.” We’re aware that Trump, while easily one of the worst things to happen to American politics in recent memory, is far from the worst thing to happen to American politics ever. And we know that we–most of us, anyway–will outlive his presidency: not in the wan, “conservatives survived eight years of Obama, so we can survive four years of Trump” sense, but in the sense Angela Davis is talking about when she says that freedom is a constant struggle.
Yesterday, hundreds of demonstrators disrupted Trump’s inauguration; today, the Women’s March on Washington is rallying as many as a quarter million women and allies to advocate for the rights that are under threat from the most openly misogynistic administration in recent memory. These protests obviously won’t stop the Trump Train from careening directly into Fuck This Shit station; that ship sailed a long time ago, and if removing Trump from office is the goal, we’ll be better off crossing our fingers and hoping that one of his many pending legal proceedings will reveal something impeachment-worthy. But this weekend is an invaluable opportunity to organize, make our dissent known, and settle in for a long four years (Christ, I hope it’s only four years) of resistance. Whether you’re taking to the streets or not, we hope this playlist of anti-authoritarian anthems will help put you in the right frame of mind. Now let’s fuck some shit up.