The Election And Sally Bowles

Last weekend, my husband and I joined a group of supporters and staff of Indianapolis’ Cabaret Theater on a weekend trip to New York. It was the first time we’d participated in these annual outings to Broadway to enjoy musical theater. This year, the entire group had tickets to the revival of “Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club.” Participants could choose from a wide variety of other shows as well, but the Cabaret revival was the common denominator.

Most Americans are familiar with previous iterations of Cabaret, but I will readily admit that this particular production had a new and concerning resonance for me.

It had been at least eight years since my husband and I had been in Manhattan, and several things seemed different on this particular trip. On a personal note, I was struck–and impressed–by how much cleaner Midtown was, and how kind and helpful people were. My husband has mobility issues that require the use of a mobility scooter, and doormen, restaurant personnel, theater ushers–even people on the streets– were unfailingly solicitous and helpful. These are not, I will note, adjectives I might have used to describe such folks on past visits.

As we braved the crowds on the streets in the theater district, it also occurred to me that the faces I encountered were the faces that upset and enrage the predominantly rural folks who make up the bulk of the MAGA movement. Native or tourist, the people we passed reflected a cosmopolitan universe: young people with purple hair on bikes or scooters, Black, brown and White men and women talking on their phones, women with hijabs, Hasidic men with fur hats… the wildly diverse America that MAGA does not want to recognize.

What really made an impression on me, however, was the performance of Cabaret. The music and staging of this particular revival were exceptional, but what really gave me chills were the similarities between Germany just before the Nazis assumed power and the United States poised on the brink of November’s election.

Let me be clear: I’m not referring to the cruelty of the Nazi assault on Jewish Germans, although it was heartbreaking to see the naiveté of the Jewish character, Herr Schultz, who insisted that “this will all blow over. After all, I am as German as they are.” Those of us who know what came later are aware of the prevalence of the sad belief of so many German Jews that it “couldn’t happen” in such a civilized, culturally-advanced country.

No, the character who summed up the nature of the real threat–then and now–was Sally Bowles, who insisted to her lover Cliff that “politics has nothing to do with us.”

Sally wasn’t the only character to dismiss so-called “political differences” as irrelevant to the lives people live. The young operative who had befriended Sally’s lover was astonished when the swastika on his armband made Cliff recoil (after all, that’s just politics, and we’re friends). But it was Sally’s utter incomprehension about why national politics should matter to her at all–why the events consuming Berlin should cause her to rethink a return to performing at the Kit Kat Club–that forced me to consider the millions of Americans who simply go about their daily lives without paying any attention to the national news or the daily revelations about the plans being made for a second Trump term.

It’s a political truth that most Americans pay little or no attention to national political campaigns until after Labor Day. (Until the expenditure of truly obscene amounts of money on electronic ads in the primaries, primary elections were low-key events interesting mostly to party insiders.)

That disengagement from politics may have been harmless when America’s two major political parties shared a basic understanding of their responsibilities–when their disputes were primarily about how to go about achieving broadly agreed-upon goals. But–just as in the Germany of Cabaret’s time–that is no longer the case. MAGA Republicans, aka Christian Nationalists, want to utterly transform what it means to be an American, just as Hitler’s Nazis wanted to redefine what it meant to be a German.

We’ve seen this play before. We know how it comes out–and how many innocent people were sacrificed to its madness.

I have repeatedly posted about the importance of turnout in the upcoming election. Unless the millions of Americans who are America’s version of Sally Bowles wake up to the fact that their lives and the lives of their children will be irreparably altered if Trump and his ilk win, America in 2024 will repeat the tragedy of 1929-30 Germany.

It could happen here.


  1. Thanks for the update on the streets where i was raised and grew up in reality. I havent been back since 2010. but as you see changes better not in everyday life,but returning every few years to walk those places. I miss the diversity,and the smells of the sidewalk and local venders. stepping off a street into a store or nightclub where things change immediatly to take you in. that diversity to capture your senses to explore more. NYC is the king of latenight.
    and its molded to its people and its visitors. working till 2 am and being able to sit and drink a beer and enjoy some pastrami.or my truck is parked in an alley getting unloaded uptown and i want outta there before the mornin rush. your observation to how its changes refreashed my senses this early morning work day,that history will never be deleated.NYC doesnt like trump, to bad we cant have a better sense of what draws you in and distroys everything..Thanks

  2. The one thing that t*ump and MAGA have done is to show us how fragile our democracy is. How complacency is a powerful force to overcome, and how easy it is for our enemies to manipulate the masses of Americans with disinformation and how difficult it is to wake us up to our political inertia.
    The parallels between the rise of the Nazi Party and the rise of MAGA are eye-opening. As has been said before, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, and those who do not want history taught intend to repeat it.

  3. How was respect for diversity stolen? A day at a time by immersing many into an alternative reality of hate and fear of difference.

  4. James’ last sentence says it all.
    TFG and his running-mate wannabes are claiming, when asked, that they will accept the outcome of November’s election only “if it’s fair”—and we all know what that means. Now other congressional Repubs are saying the same thing. The orange creature has already promised a bloodbath, and we must accept that that is not just idle talk. My only hope is that there will be more of us voting, fewer of them, and not enough of those who think like Todd to make a difference.

  5. I hope to hell we can show the world just how STRONG our democracy is, by landsliding these rascals who would have it otherwise, i.e., eviscerating the great experiment that has survived for a couple hundred years. There has never been anything like what we have, with all of its imperfections, and now is not the time to let up on the fight for democracy, the best idea so far, if we can keep it.

  6. Unfortunately it’s been a long time coming. The New Nazis have carefully crafted their new world order. They have several media outlets spewing their nonsense. They have judges in every district and they have loaded SCOTUS, with six of the most radical Justices in history.

    All they needed was a candidate who couldn’t be shamed or cowed. They found him in DJT. He’s perfect for the role. He’s not too bright, but he is cruel and totally transactional, with no morality at all. After judge Cannon’s delay of the documents case, it’s painfully obvious that they are where they needed to be for the takeover. That’s why the coming election is the most important of my life! I’m praying that TFG can say when the election is over, “I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ” (borrowed from Fleetwood Mac)

    Note !to Jack Smith, it’s not too late for a writ of mandamus!

  7. Plato’s quote, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

    The two current candidates from the major parties are already an example of our inferiors. One is neck-deep in criminal cases, while the other is funding and arming a genocide. You couldn’t find two more inferior human beings than our two major political parties have offered up.

    One noted exception is the MAGA crowd, who are involved in political conversations and regularly vote. They participate in our “democracy.” They religiously watch Fox News and listen to AM talk radio. The more extreme the propaganda, the better.

    The DNC loyalists are similar to the MAGA crowd. They vote in every election and watch CNN and MSNBC to gather their propaganda.

    However, the political winds are blowing toward independent voters and those who fail to participate because they don’t see the benefit of voting. They’ve been voting, and nothing has changed. It just gets worse at statehouses and in Washington.

    I follow a large sampling of politicos at the state and federal levels. With few exceptions, they are incessant liars or sociopaths. They don’t care about facts or evidence. They intentionally lie and seemingly do not align their falsehoods with their base. I’ve never witnessed anything like it. Talk about our inferiors! They are morally reprehensible.

    Trust in our media and government has hit record lows. The lack of trust is approaching single digits and for very good reasons. There was a recent casual talk between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mitt Romney. Antony was talking about how Israel has lost the narrative war in the media. Mitt Romney responded, “That’s why we had to ban TikTok.” Wait until 170 million TikTok users see that clip. They were told China was spying on them and the app was a “national security risk.” Turns out Israel wanted it banned because the kids got their news from the app and weren’t buying Israeli propaganda. #priceless

    It’s almost as if Biden is intentionally wanting to lose the election to Trump. 😉

  8. If you want to look at the playbook for the American Nazi takeover, read Project 2025 put out by the incredibly un-patriotic Heritage Foundation.

    Yes, it IS happening here – for all of us to see.

  9. Sorry about the spacing error in my last line ! think you get my point, though.

  10. As Robert Hubbell’s daily newsletter often ends, we have very reason to be hopeful but no reason to be complacent in terms of re-electing President Biden to another term. Turnout at the polls in 2024 will determine the future of our democracy. TFG’s only hope is in the hands of the American political party known as “Did not vote.”

  11. Todd – I’m not sure what you hope for re: voting in the upcoming election. I don’t like that the US has continued to provide weapons is Israel either. The whole fight is wildly messed up. BB is (no surprise) a hard-right monster and he should not be encouraged in any way.

    Biden at least can probably be brought around to that position. Trump’s policy is to flatten Palestine and rebuild Gaza with Trump branded hotels on the waterfront.

    Given that those are your two options (Not what I want, but can hopefully be pushed in a positive direction VS enthusiastic murderer) – I don’t see how someone with your stated Palestine politics can not vote Biden. There ISN’T a third option. Third party candidates Do Not/Will Not/Can Not win in our system as it currently stands.

    YES – I think first past the post voting is wrong. I would like ranked choice. Then, you could vote for who you want. In our system (the one you and I and everyone else is stuck with), you vote for who you REALLY want in the primary and you hope. Then you might end up stuck with who you actually got in the general. You dance with who brung ya. I don’t love it either. BUT, them’s the breaks. Push to change the system.

    I suppose it’s immaterial in Indiana (Trump is going to get the electoral votes from here – 100%), so feel free to write in Mickey Mouse or yourself or whatever. Your argument as always presented is just silly though. You have two choices in the USA – period. When one is “Not great” and the other is “Christo-Fascist”, it’s very weird to focus so heavily on how much you hate the “not great” one.

  12. Dirk,

    Great takedown of somebody who clearly has never ventured outside Muncie. I still have trouble being civil with those who actually let us know how biased, tilted and foolish they are.

    It’s a shame, but many anti-Trump Republicans won’t vote for Biden either. Did you see where something over 20% of primary voters still picked Haley? One wonders how many of those folks will still vote for Trump, not vote at all, or will vote for our President.

  13. Sorry, Dirk, but I cannot morally support either choice the two major parties put forth. The under-35 crowd has bailed on Biden, and he’s probably not getting them back no matter what he does between now and November.

    Also, we have two other choices this election – an independent and Green Party.

    I will most likely vote for a third-party candidate and keep my morals intact. I’m not going to choose reasoning over my conscience.

  14. Todd,
    An independent who just admitted in public yesterday that a dead worm has eaten a portion of his brain resulting in memory and judgment issues; and that the wormy remains are still lodged in his skull.
    Yes, obviously he has judgment issues, or he would not have put out that damning press release. No, Kennedy is NOT a viable option this year.

  15. Nothing defines Democracy more accurately than the allowing of people to make their own decision(s) wrt whom they wish to give their vote.

    I guess we have a group of entitled fussbudgets and pampered prince’s who believe they are entitled to the votes of others.

    No one owes you a goddamned thing. Get over it. If someone has chosen to vote their conscience…..and their vote does not allow you to get your way, move the fuck on.

    There are two types of posters to this forum;

    Those that believe political parties can fail people, and those believing only people can fail the party.

  16. Yes, James’ last sentence, and Todd’s first!
    The MAGA political crowd has positioned itself in such a way as yet another round of cheating (Florida in the first Bush election?) might be easy, and then it is all over!

  17. Ian, Buddy. Amigo. Mon Frere.

    I don’t think people are entitled to anything. I think the United States has an electoral system that works a certain way.

    I’m pro getting to a point where we have hydrogen filling stations. I don’t pour water in my gas tank and hope – because that isn’t how the engine I currently have works. You, on the other hand, are welcome to pour as much water in your own car’s gas tank as you like. I would never stop you.

    I would, however, suggest it’s a foolish decision. But you do you.

  18. ONE of the things that astonishes me about the MAGA group is their claim to Christianity. Have they never read or heard of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Apparently not, and it hardly helps those who believe in that thought of caring. The MAGAs are NOT what the Republican Party used to be – one that was just as Sheila described it – caring, intelligent, and responsible. They follow a man who has no principles, and they claim it as their right to treat others the way he does. My heart aches for America.

  19. Yep.

    Sending billions to Ukraine and sending billions to Likud via Raytheon, et al, is most analogous to putting water in one’s gastank.

    Excellent analogy.

  20. More than 460,000 Indiana Republicans voted for tfg in this primary. In an extremely low turnout around 20% to 25%, that number is a punch in the stomach for anyone paying attention to what tfg and the Heritage Foundation have planned.
    Braun is a dangerous toady to tfg who has chosen as his running mate a woman with less than 2 years experience in state politics, a Catholic like him with the same religious agenda. If you look at her legislative record, you get that she is not a supporter of public education.
    I heard a report on NPR yesterday in which it was reported that one in three in the U.S. have thought about leaving the country. It seems cowardly to cut and run but clear history of what happened to those who stayed in Europe in the ’40s makes a strong argument for leaving to fight another day rather than become a statistic on a wall.
    Project 2025 lays out the plan to deport 11M people. Round them up into camps and send them where? Use the military to do it. Does this sound familiar at all?
    Absolutists like Braun, Banks, Spartz, et al. want control of power to force conformity. They have shown us who they are in this state for decades. Apparently over a half million Hoosiers are okay with that because it serves their limited worldview or they believe it will not impact them marginally if at all.
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  21. On 2/27/33 Hitler’s Storm Troopers burned the Reichtag, probably to whip up fear in the German population. The German people felt an emergency was at hand and were willing to give up their civil freedoms. This cleared the path for Hitler to seize power.

    Have Americans experienced any emergency events that have caused special conditions to be declared, requiring citizens to give up Constitutional freedoms? Are any emergency events coming up between now and Election Day which may require more departures from Constitutional guarantees?

  22. Well, there ya go. You should vote for Trump. You only have two choices in the US system. If your priority is stopping Ukrainian spending, he’s your best best. He’s far and away the most likely to wind down that effort. You’ll get some other things with him too (to me, negative but to you maybe positive, I wouldn’t know), but you’ll get the Ukrainian bit you’ve prioritized. Generally, only should vote for the person (who has a chance of winning) who is most likely to do the thing or improve the thing that is most important to you – that’s why I think anyway.

    Sadly, defense contractors will probably do well regardless. It’s smart business to make sure some part of your product is made in as many states as possible. Hard to cut funding when it will cut jobs in someone’s district. They’ve been clever about this whole thing.

    The analogy was geared more towards the magical thinking required to put in a 3rd party or write-in candidate and think they would win. I suppose embrace the moral victory so that whoever wins of the two that you don’t like you still get to say “Well, I didn’t vote for them!”, which is probably pretty comforting. I get that.

    Politics is hard and unpleasant. Revolutionary change is quite tricky to start – which is good and bad probably.

  23. The Dobbs decision has awaken many people to the new reality. The current Supreme Court is no longer a solution to denial of rights but the catalyst and seems to revel in the fact that we can’t do anything about them.

    Hillary Clinton was on Morning Joe today and said if government and the Courts can repeal Roe v. Wade, they can also repeal Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and any other program. She’s so right about that. ALL these issues are on the ballot, and radicals like Cong. Jim Banks are EAGER to make these kinds of changes. Even more dangerous, Trump has infected them with his reversal of democracy – they only honor the elections they win. Democracy itself is on the ballot, and too many folks are asleep at the switch.

  24. Todd:

    It is not a genocide. It simply does not match the definition of that word. Your consistently calling it that tells me that you are the one who is parroting propaganda, as are the kids, the protesters, and others. Not that what is happening in Gaza, which is being committed by the right wing of Israel, is not horrific, as was the attack committed by Iran/Hamas against Israel, but to call it genocide is to accept pure propaganda.

    What did you say about the MAGA crowd, “the more extreme the propaganda, the better,” right? You, buddy, have been convinced that I, the Biden voter, am the problem – the blinded, the foolish, the extreme – and all along it was YOU, blinded, foolish, extreme. YOU are the follower of the propaganda, ironically not from the left but from the right, criticizing the right of Israel in such a way that the left in the U.S. will self-immolate.

    As they are doing.

    As Papa Vladimir would like.

    It’s just good ol’ KGB tactics, as it has been over and over.

    Wake up, Todd.

  25. Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote, has warned that non-citizens will be able to vote in the next U.S. federal election due to an obscure line in the United States Code.

    According to 18 U.S.C. §611. Voting by aliens, it is unlawful for any alien to vote in any election, unless the following condition is met: “(3) the alien reasonably believed at the time of voting in violation of such subsection that he or she was a citizen of the United States.”

    It is not clear why such a low hurdle to legal voting was placed in the U.S.C. I am hopeful my interpretation is incorrect, but if not, this exception to voting illegality should be removed immediately.

    If readers care to hear Ms. Engelbrecht explain this U.S.C. anomaly in her own words, and develop their own conclusions, she was interviewed 5/14/24 in a brief 14-minute Tucker Carlson Uncensored episode.

  26. Sheila: The diverse population you saw in Manhattan is America’s future irrespective of the success or failure of fascism as our governing apparatus. White folks are scheduled to go into minority status in 2034 – only ten years from now. The result of the timing of this transition with an AI in full bloom presents some issues for solution we cannot know at present, but I think it will make a difference if efforts to solve the issues then presented are made under the aegis of a
    democracy or a top-down fascist dictatorship.

    Back to topic: This is no time to back off from today’s 1/6 edition of Reichstag burners, beer hall brawlers and election deniers led by a craven creature who is
    grabbing ’em by the bible. It is time to cut them off at their political knees in this fall’s election and during the inevitable litigation following. There are more of us than there are of them, but we must mobilize our electoral strength in order to make this happy situation pay off since our democracy hangs in the balance for us and our successors – a solemn obligation. VOTE, and bring Aunt Mary and Uncle Harold to the polls with you.

  27. I was struck by Todd’s passionate conviction, expressed as “I’m not going to choose reasoning over my conscience.” There is no conflict between using reason and being committed to one’s conscience. And choosing a path (or a candidate) that leads nowhere seems to me to reflect neither well-thought-out reasoning or an act of conscience. Critical thinking, though, might help—a lot!

  28. For Over It:

    I’ve been awake for a very long time and support the UN expert on genocide, Francesca Albanese:

    “I find that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the threshold indicating the commission of the crime of genocide against Palestinians as a group in Gaza has been met,” she said, citing more than 30,000 Palestinians killed among other acts.

    “I implore member states to abide by their obligations, which start with imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on Israel and so ensure that the future does not continue to repeat itself,” she said, prompting a burst of applause.”

  29. I had a chilling conversation with a very close family member, now living and working in England, who told me that if Donald Trump is elected in November, they will not be returning to live in the U.S. That’s almost as heartbreaking as the thought of his being elected again. I share their concern.

  30. Todd, I used your logic in 2016, thereby helping to elect Trump. I pray that you come to your senses before you cast your vote this fall because I an sure that you will wind up even more remorseful than I did if Trump wins again!

    To All: The fall ballot in Indiana is now set except in the 7th District where the R winner died before the election. Here is the Meme for the rest of the year:

    Close Ranks,
    Beat Banks!

    We would like to beat every other Republican on the November Ballot, but Banks in the Senate will constitute a mortal wound to our republic! I have been a Republican for my entire life and you cannot imagine how pained I am to see what has happened to my beloved party. Sometimes I wish that I had not lived to see this happen. But having done so, I absolutely intend to do everything in my power to ensure that it goes no further!! VOTE STRAIGHT BLUE!!!!!

    There is a certain poetic justice / irony to the Republicans as the Red party in America and the fact that RED is the symbolic color of world wide Marxism / Communism.

  31. Todd, you know very well that within the UN there has always been an anti-Israel contingent, including those who would prefer to see Israel and all Jews destroyed. Your appeal to authority in citing one UN official does not change the fact that this is not genocide. Regardless of the evil being committed by the Israeli government, this does not rise to the level of genocide. Your repeating that lie betrays your own lack of discernment and susceptibility to propaganda. Your inability to see the complexity of the situation and thus unwillingness to consider a nuanced argument regarding it betrays your all-or-nothing thinking, which may salve your conscience but makes you a pawn of the propagandists.

  32. Claiming the higher moral ground by refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils is incomprehensible to me. It’s a corollary to Sally Bowles attitude; rather than claiming to be unaffected by politics, it’s claiming to somehow be above it, that the purity of one’s conscience is somehow more important than the well-being of ones fellow citizens. It’s cowardly egoism, in my opinion. “I’ll vote 3d party and if Biden wins I can say ‘Whew, my precious conscience is pure; no harm, no foul’ and if Trump wins I can complain bitterly about how the Dems didn’t put up a candidate I could vote for.”

  33. So far, Over It, the only one repeating propaganda is you. Not sure how you reached your nonsensical conclusions, but almost every international voice not attached to Israel/US has concluded its genocide. Francesca is an expert on Israel and Palestinian affairs.

    And to further negate your opine, the UN and ICC have a large contingent of pro-US puppets. If the ICC backs down due to US threats, it will show its true colors, which aren’t anti-Israel.

  34. We recently got rid of cable and signed up for Netflex via internet. We don’t want to support Fox and right-wing news. There’s a well-known New Yorker Fran Lebowitz who partnered with Martin Scorsese to produce “Pretend it’s a City ” It’s shot in NYC and Fran who was born in 1950 tells stories of the changes through her lifetime, and life in the City in a humorous way. Though she c/o tourists getting in her way, I recommend watching.
    I’ve never been to NYC, but my Mother who was an army nurse in WWll who had been stationed in an evacuation hospital in Austria was. She said that when they were returning home on the troop ship “The Queen Mary” and sailed into New York Harbor, when the Statue of Liberty came into view her eyes welled up, and she had a great sense of what US stood for.
    Our predecessors who gave up their freedom and risk their lives to help protect democracy cannot be forgotten this election cycle. To keep the horrors of fascism from gaining ultimate power here, clarity and perseverance are needed. Maga movement needs to recognized for what they are and what they want to do.
    Seeing MTG booed off the House floor yesterday was a good sign.

  35. Gordon Evans… while it may not be illegal for an alien to vote if they believe they are a citizen, I don’t believe the act can be interpreted as affirming that the vote is valid. Voter registration laws would doubtless render the ballot invalid, inasmuch as the voter is not lawfully registered. People spreading this kind of subtle misinformation around is not helpful.

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