The lyrics of a wonderful song from my youth (Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheel, 1973) keep coming to mind as our presidential politics - both left and right - descend further into chaos. Perhaps you will see how fitting the words are to our tragic comedy. If possible, listen to the song before reading on.
As we enter the polling place in November, we could sing: “Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight; I got the feeling that something ain’t right. I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair and I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs.”
The chorus describes our ballot choices. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am; stuck in the middle with you”. We wrestle against the disorienting temptation to despair; “Yes, I’m stuck in the middle with you and I’m wondering what it is I should do. It’s so hard to keep this smile from my face. Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place.” Repeat the chorus about clowns and jokers.
The next verse applies to the candidates’ myths of virtue, “When you started out with nothing and you’re proud that you’re a self-made man” and continue with the truth of their corruption, “And your friends, they all come crawling, slap you on the back and say, ‘Please!’, ‘Please!’”
Finally, we cross the line into actual hopelessness: “Trying to make some sense of it all but I can see it makes no sense at all. Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor? ‘Cause I don’t think I can take any more.” Once again, repeat the clowns and jokers chorus.
A musical interlude- almost a liturgical “selah” - follows in order to process all this sadness and we conclude with a repeat of the myth of virtue and truth of corruption then the initial puzzlement over being here at all. Our last breath is a final reference to clowns and jokers and the sigh of a fourfold repetition of being stuck in the middle.
I commend to you my comfort out of this despair. It is that Jesus Christ is enthroned at the right hand of God in the heavenly places, ruling over all nations including ours. He will care for His gathered people, His church, and will finally and fully deliver us from all His and our enemies on every side. We trust the testimonies of His word, we hope, with confident expectation, in His promise of the new creation and, in evidence of these things, we love to keep His commandments. Lord Jesus! Have mercy on our nation. Revive us in Your grace and mercy for peace. And please do it soon.
Kit Swartz Ruling Elder, RPC Fulton NY Teaching Elder Emeritus, RPC Oswego NY