‘Shepherds Of The Nation’

by Steve Heilig, March 21, 2012

Despite my better judgment and sometimes sensitive stomach, I caught a bit of the latest Republican candidate debate the other evening. The one benefit was that I finally figured out why an obscure old song by legendary British popsters The Kinks has been circling through my “jukebox head” – it’s the best theme song for the whole Republican campaign and party!

The song is “Shepherds Of The Nation,” from a messy concept album the Kinks released way back in 1974 – the big year of Watergate, coincidentally or not. The album apparently did not do very well – it was melodramatic and out of step with the times. But I recall hearing this song as a teen and being a bit embarrassed by the words. And now, wow, the lyrics of the song are just uncannily spot-on.

The song itself can be heard online on youtube, just search for The Kinks and the title. But the full lyrics are below as well.

Listening to the song or reading the lyrics, it’s all too easy to imagine them being spoken by, say Rick Santorum. But not just him – any number of prominent candidates, feeling pressured to be the most “conservative” and taking pledges against abortion, taxes, contraception, science, "liberalism," or what have you, thus relieving them of the need to think about complex issues and, they hope, winning votes from those also so inclined. Candidates Romney and Gingrich preach – boy, do they preach – about many things but “small government” is their main creed – unless they disagree with something you’re doing, in which case, watch out. Regarding Romney, I don’t know how tolerant mainstream Mormons are of the wide variety of American faiths, let alone sexual or other private proclivities, but I have my doubts, based at least part on some long-ago experiences being beat up in Utah for having long-ish hair. Does anybody really believe Newt Gingrich really believes anything other than what might get him another vote? Irrelevant crank Ron Paul, busted for racist and antisemitic statements in his past, adhering to Neanderthalian economic "theory," and still anti-choice regarding abortion, has similar inconsistencies, but he doesn’t really matter in any way other than he might take some single-issue voters away from other hopeful candidates.

But Santorum, even as he falls by the wayside this campaign, will likely be back and is a symptom of something scary, and thus is likely the prime candidate for this theme song. He exhibits the hallmark of the fundamentalist, pronouncing others, such as Obama, as not "Christian" enough and excluding women from discussions of things affecting them. Being “holier than thou” is a Taliban hallmark. He feels he is waging “a spiritual war” to save our nation and that “Satan has his sights on the United States of America… Satan is attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.” Now, substitute “America” for “Satan” and call the USA any Islamic nation and put those words into the mouths of fundamentalist Islamic figures, such as those in the Taliban, and voila – New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is proven correct when she labels Santorum a “small-town mullah” (and, he was called “Senator Sanitarium” on The Sopranos – no wonder that show was so revered). He cultivates a blue-collar persona, affecting cowboy boots, and says "with me, what you see is what you get" - while enjoying a seven-figure income, and preaching “buy American” while driving an Audi. And he earned his notorious Google search problem by having a filthy mind, comparing homosexuality to bestiality. All the hypocrisy there is just too thick; such “Christians” seem too comfortable cherry-picking their Biblical references, conveniently ignoring such fundamentals as “Judge not” (or, for that matter, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”).

Remember the “American Taliban” – the befuddled Marin youngster who got caught up in crazy ideology and thus big trouble? He’s a poor piker compared to these politicos, who are no less ideologically-bound but want to rule the nation, maybe the world, with their own version of “The Truth.”

So here is their theme song – it proves that Kinks headman Ray Davies is, or at least was, indeed some sort of prescient genius, as many have held for decades but I did not quite realize until now. I wouldn’t really recommend the whole album – they had a string of true classics before that one. But warning, this tune may stick in your head – although hopefully not in our laws:

Ray Davies and The Kinks, 1974

Shepherds of the Nation

by Steve Heilig

We are the new centurians.

 Shepherds of the Nation.

 We’ll keep on our guard

 For sin and degradation.

 We are the national guard

 Against filth and depravity,

 Perversion and vulgarity,

 Homosexuality.

 Keep it clean.

Down with nudity,

 Breasts that are bare and pubic hair.

 We are here to cleanse humanity

 From the man in the raincoat’s

Pale faced glare.

 So sodomites beware.

We are the new centurians,

 Shepherds of the Nation.

 We’ll keep on our guard 

For sin and degradation.

 We are the national, guard 

Against filth and depravity,

 Perversion and vulgarity,

 Homosexuality.

 Keep it clean.

I visualize a day when people will be free

 From evils like perversion and pornography.

 We’ll cast out Satan and we’ll set the sinners free,

 So people of the nation unite.

 Put all the pervs in jail,

 Bring back the birch, and the cat of nine tails.

Bring back corporal punishment

 Bring back the stocks

 And the axeman’s block.

 Let righteousness prevail.

 Down with nudity and hard core magazines.

 We’ll bring religion back

 And keep our country clean.

 Keep it clean.

Down with sex and sin,

 Down with pot, heroin.

 Down with pornography,

 Down with lust.

 Down with vice lechery and debauchery.

We are the new centurians

Shepherds of the Nation.

 We’ll keep on our guard

 For sin and degradation.

 We are the national guard

 Against filth and depravity.

 Perversion and vulgarity,

 Homosexuality.

 Keep it clean.

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