Trump and his conservative cronies believe the arts have had too much influence in shaping the political landscape toward liberal ideals, and they want that voice stopped. Reagan sought to blow things up and began a culture war, but we need a Fred Rogers moment. Rodgers, with his sincerity, passion for public education and clear thinking, sliced through hardened conservative politicians to defend public television and the arts. In his Senate hearing he conveyed the importance of “thought provoking television against government’s defunding policies in 1968. Fred asks:
What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite. When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong. And be able to do something else instead — [stand up for your rights].
Conservatives continued free-market billionaire agenda wants to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and eliminate both the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH).
The president’s transition goon squad leaked his efforts to “skinny” expenditures of the federal government, by adopting the “blueprint for federal spending” from the Heritage Foundation, which are supported by Libertarian conservatives, such as Rand Paul. This “blueprint” seeks to restructure the federal budget by eliminating what conservatives assume to be unnecessary waste. Brian Darling, a former staffer at the Heritage Foundation and a former aid to Rand Paul claims:
The Trump Administration needs to reform and cut spending dramatically, and targeting waste like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be a good first step in showing that the Trump Administration is serious about radically reforming the federal budget.
“Landing teams” placed in these various institutions would either completely dismantle their infrastructure, or sell off the parts to the highest bidder. These actions clearly smack of defunding or destroying anything connected to liberal politics. Undoing arts funding would only amount to .016 percent or the total budget as reported by Laura Bradley in Vanity Fair. This minuscule amount of impact screams a “destroy the liberals” mentality.
Trump’s disdain of criticism motivates his desire to silence the artistic voices that challenge him. The arts are Trump’s number one enemy! Consider his obsessive tweets about Saturday Night Live or Meryl Streep! Philip Kennicott, of the Chicago Tribune, asserts:
The animus against these organizations has been so powerful for so long that defending them feels almost pro forma, a reflexive rhetorical blast into the headwinds of an anti-arts bias so deep that there’s little hope of changing anyone’s mind (“The NEA is welfare for cultural elitists,” declares the Heritage Foundation, sententiously).
The only hope is the possibility that someone in Congress will review the losses America would suffer from these cuts, and put a stop to them. The Hill notes, “The budget offices of the various departments will have the chance to review the proposals, offer feedback and appeal for changes before the president’s budget goes to Congress.”
The Republicans limited moral compasses makes change unlikely, avoiding any consideration to change the course of Talentless Trump’s agenda. They notoriously worry about their next election, rather than prioritize American arts and humanities. Here’s where the Bernie Sander’s revolution needs to come in. Change comes in numbers, and artists and their audiences need to bring their voices into the light!
National advocacy, like the GhostLightProject that happened yesterday in theaters across the country, can springboard a continued forward movement, turning the tide for American arts and academic programs. The performance, visual and literary arts provide not only an important lens into the human condition, but a means of comprehending alternative ways of challenging norms, and pushing debate on marginalized issues into the mainstream.
Although it will be up to Congress whether these cuts happen or not, people should not remain silent. If you have gone to the theater, watched television, visited a museum, or you were inspired by a painting, movie or good book – you were affected in some way by the CPB, NEA or the NEH, and should support the fight to keep the arts and artists funded!
Fred Rodgers Hearing Speech to Congress!
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