Debt Neglector
Photo Credit: Michael Eliassen

Throughout the history of punk rock, there has been an element of standing up for you believe in. It’s something that has happened on both sides of the Atlantic, yet bands in both the UK and America, more often than not, share the same ideologies. Orlando, Florida’s Debt Neglector are the latest in a long line of bands to take an anti-establishment attitude.

Formed just two years ago, the quartet’s brand of anthemic punk rock has seen them take a cynical approach at the American dream. While their new EP, ‘The Kids Are Pissed’, directly tackles a range of relevant subjects; the rise of the Alt-Right, gun reform, and America’s inhuman immigration situation. Its six songs are threaded together by sentimental outrage.

Today, American citizens will be heading to voting polls as part of the Midterm elections. The result of these elections has a significant impact on the general political landscape of the US going forward. It sees Republicans and Democrats vying for control of Congress with all 435 members of the House of Representatives up for election, with one-third of the Senate also up for election. 51 seats are needed for control of the Senate and 218 are needed for the House.

These Midterms are vital for various reasons, perhaps most importantly for the Presidency of Donald Trump. For example, if Republicans were to take control of Congress, Trump’s key campaign promises could be revived and put forward. While if the Democrats controlled the House of Representative, it would allow them to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

To shed more light about the current state of America, Debt Neglector founder Alex Goldfarb has penned this guest blog piece for Already Heard. Read on as he discusses how America is far from being great again.

The people touting the phrase “Make America Great Again” is confounding to me.

They call them Active Shooter Drills. Our classes full of students are instructed to huddle in the closet. The lights go off. We’re not allowed to make a sound. We get away from the windows. We wait. One, then two, then 5 minutes go by. Then we’re given the signal and school is allowed to resume as scheduled. It’s just something we practice. As if it’s inevitable. I’ve been working in the American public school system for going on 8 years and these Active Shooter Drills have become the new normal.

But how much do you say to an elementary school child about why we’re rehearsing for these scenarios? Are you supposed to tell them that a crazy person might come kicking down the door with an automatic weapon and kill them for no apparent reason? Are you supposed to tell them that the person is mentally ill, but our country doesn’t care enough to help them get better? Are we supposed to tell those kids to suck it up because 2nd Amendment rights are more important than their safety? That some redneck’s desire to go hunting with outlandishly powerful guns is worth more than their life?

I’m no expert on American policy, gun rights, or the constitution. But I did grow up here. And when I was a kid (not too, too long ago) I didn’t have to practice Active Shooter Drills with my kindergarten class. The political right likes to argue that it’s not a gun problem. After a school shooting, they say it’s a mental health issue that’s “really” at the core of all the violence in America. But then they try to pry healthcare away from as many people as they can. They try to allow insurers not to cover pre-existing conditions and are doing absolutely nothing to expand mental health coverage. It’s just misdirection. But we allowed them to take power and we allowed this all to happen.

The people touting the phrase “Make America Great Again” is confounding to me. When was the country great? Our schools were still segregated a little over 50 years ago. That’s embarrassing. Less than 80 years ago we were refusing Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust at the border and shipping them back to Europe. That’s cold-blooded. Our country was founded on the genocide of Native Americans and there are still Confederate monuments all throughout the southern states. That’s shameful. America has a long road to travel if it ever hopes to even sniff real greatness.

“We’re resigned to be distracted by tragedy after tragedy until we’re all numb”

Maybe I was unaware of the threats when I was a kid. I heard stories of people hiding razor blades in your trick or treat candies. Or of the creeper that would try to lure you into his van. And while both of those instances are horrific those threats felt isolated. They felt like bedtime stories made to scare you into being good. To scare you into being safe. Things feel tenser now. It feels like we’re on the brink of things getting worse and worse. It feels widespread. It feels ravenous. It feels like every time there’s a mass shooting, we all have the same argument and nothing ever changes. We’re resigned to be distracted by tragedy after tragedy until we’re all numb. Until we’re just used to it.

At work and in our schools, every time we practice an Active Shooter Drill, I can feel the innocence of these kids being slowly sapped away. It shouldn’t BE this way. It fills me with despair. We should be able to focus on teaching them to read, to write, and to do math. To learn art and music. To follow their hopes and passions. To become who they were meant to be.

I hope this generation grows up to fix it all. I hope they’re mad that the grownups didn’t fight harder to make it better and safer for all of us. I hope they forgive us for failing them. But every day I go to work in the American school system, I look around and see colleagues who care. Who are underpaid and unappreciated, but still show up every day and try to build a better future. Every day we try to teach our students tolerance and compassion. That they’re responsible for their actions. That it’s not okay to treat people poorly. That violence is not the answer.

I hope I see a better future in my lifetime where these lessons are taken to heart. Where an ‘us versus them’ mentality doesn’t prevail. But it seems that that future is very far away. Hopefully, the midterms elections can begin turning that tide because it feels like we have a long way to go.

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‘The Kids Are Pissed’ EP by Debt Neglector is out now on Smartpunk Records.

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