Paul Sprangers: Election ‘16


Paul Sprangers is the lead singer of indie-rock band Free Energy. He is also the founder of Karma Farm 

This election is a referendum on the collective consciousness

It’s strange isn’t it, this election cycle? We’re closer to it than ever before. We’re sharing more than ever before. We’re paying attention. We’re here.

And I’m realizing something. All this commotion is the growing pains of conscious evolution. By this I mean, we’re trying to determine, among ourselves, what stories we want to keep, which ones we want to create, and which ones we want to let go. And make no mistake, the entire world pays attention to our stories. All the people of the world are watching and listening to this unbelievable confusion, hoping that maybe some good stories will come of it.

So, without further ado…here’s my Story Nutshell Breakdown:

Bernie Sanders represents the ideal story. He represents the world where many of us want to go. A world where all humans are respected regardless of gender, race, or class. It’s a story about equality, fairness, and returning the instruments of democracy to their rightful owners: us, the people who have inherited and live in this absolutely incredible civilization.  It is possible, and believe it or not, that world is exactly where we are headed.

Hillary Clinton represents where we are now. Her story is that it doesn’t really get much better than this. This is pretty much the best we can do. Her story is the continuation of many, many generations of leaders who have convinced our parents and their children that there are perpetual threats outside our borders. That there is danger everywhere and we must rely on those-who-know-best to protect us and keep us safe. That the economy is ruthless and unreliable. That an unregulated free market will police itself. That our physical and mental health can be “fixed” by prescription drugs. That corporations should have the same rights as individual human beings.

I think all of the Republican candidates represent where we’ve been. Their story is of a “golden age” in America – long before our society woke up and saw itself and was like: “WTF?” This story, of course, is inherently, if not overtly, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, classist, patriarchal and, worst of all, inflexible. Because there never was a “golden age.” Have you read Howard Zinn? The past was a shitshow, dog.

Then there’s Trump. Trump is the boogeyman. He is the sum of all our fears. And I mean all of us. You, who are reading this – Trump is the guy who has the potential to look at you and pick out your worst insecurities and relish in taunting you with them.  He is the kid who teased me by calling me “grizzly adams” when I wore hiking boots to school in 4th grade and I balled my eyes out to my Dad as I swore I’d never wear them again. He’s every hockey player who made me and my nerdy friends put up walls around our weirdness for fear that they’d call us “gay,” (I’m from Minnesota). He’s whatever hurts. Trump’s story is fear. That’s it. And maybe some righteous victimhood sprinkled in there for “zazz.”

Here’s the thing I’ve learned in reading a million self-help books: fear is unreal. When you face your fears you become a better version of yourself. You know this. I know this. Everyone has experienced this. Fear is just some pattern we learned when we were growing up. We all have different fears. And, as Trump so nefariously illustrates, we all have common fears: fears about our jobs, our rent, our kids, our parents, our health, etc. But I urge anyone who will listen to use this opportunity to allow all the negativity that is boiling through the media to just ‘Be’. Give it a little space. We don’t react to it. We don’t fight it. We just listen, patiently, and send love to those who are perpetuating it. We don’t put down someone for believing in whatever candidate they’re supporting. They’re doing the best they can, they’re just freaked out. We must listen to each other with compassion.  All the while we continue focusing on where we’re going – that ideal story – because where we’re going…we don’t need roads.

Let’s wrap this up. I believe this is an incredible moment. We have, dancing before our very eyes, an epic contest of our collective stories. Who are we? Where are we? What do we want? There is a lot of anger and fear and sadness in our collective history as American people, and it’s fueling the giant media machine like never before. But if we treat it with compassion, that negativity can be healed and released. We really can move on from all the hell we’ve put ourselves through. Because the best part about this country is that there’s limitless hope, positivity, innovation, and creativity, which is being expressed, alongside this negativity, like never before.
What a cool time to be alive. I’m gonna have a LaCroix.


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