While most of us have been watching Fox News and hanging on every Trump tweet, the play Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manual Miranda has taken the world by storm. Tickets are going for anywhere from $400 for a bad seat to upwards of $1500 for decent seats. Around the world people, especially Millennials, are being introduced to Alexander Hamilton and the amazing story of our country’s founding.
Conservatives will know “Hamilton” from reports of the cast speaking out during a show attended by Vice President elect Pence. It was a poorly timed move on the part of the cast, no doubt about it. I can understand how they thought it was their only chance to have their voices heard. Ironically, it was the actor playing Burr (portrayed as a squishy politician who didn’t stand for anything) that actually spoke up. If you know anything about the play you know that if they had one shot, they were going to take it.
I was introduced to the play by my 12-year-old daughter. She found it on YouTube and quickly learned every lyric to every song in the entire play. She walked around humming melodies and asked me to listen, only to roll her eyes when I wouldn’t give the songs appropriate reverence while trying to make dinner or fold laundry. I resisted an extended study of the music because frankly, I'm busy and wasn't sure what I thought about it, given the controversy. And I was afraid I would hear just another leftist interpretation of the founding of my great love, America.
On a drive to a neighboring town, she finally trapped me and made me listen. We streamed the music, with my daughter singing along to every note. She was right. It is amazing and addictive. I downloaded the soundtrack and now am on my way to learning every word. Hamilton is at times raw and melancholy, and then cleverly hopeful - all the things that America is.
Here are some of my favorite lyrics from the play- from the song The Schulyer Sisters:
I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident
That all men are created equal”
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!
Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now!
I love the energy and passion of those who helped drive forward the cause of liberty. The strong women characters in this play are inspiring a generation of girls.
But now we’re in a pickle.
The most important thing about this play is the telling of this story to young people in a way that they are absorbing and understanding. It's causing them to research more about our founding fathers and learn more about Hamilton. They are learning about the Constitution and the Federalist papers. Heck, I know people who would give their right arm to get young people to read the Federalist papers. And yet here's a play that talks about it. What an amazing opportunity for us to share the message of liberty!
One of my favorite songs from the play is One Last Time, where Washington explains to Hamilton why he won’t run for office again. He is asking for Hamilton’s help in writing the President’s last address:
No! One last time
The people will hear from me
One last time
And if we get this right
We’re gonna teach ‘em how to say
You and I—
Mr. President, they will say you’re weak
No, they will see we’re strong
Your position is so unique
So I’ll use it to move them along
Why do you have to say goodbye?
If I say goodbye, the nation learns to move on
It outlives me when I’m gone
Like the scripture says:
“Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.”
They’ll be safe in the nation we’ve made
I wanna sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we’ve made
One last time
What an amazing way to explain the sacrifice Washington made. Here is the lyric of the King’s response to the news:
George Washington’s yielding his power and stepping away
I wasn’t aware that was something a person could do
Are they gonna keep on replacing whoever’s in charge?
If so, who’s next?
There’s nobody else in their country who looms quite as large…
The mix of hip-hop and Broadway has resulted in a fantastic history lesson. If we are eager to wage war against socialism, this is a valuable weapon we need to pick up and use.
Some who looked to stop the Trump presidency called themselves #hamiltonelectors and claimed that they were putting country before party by trying to stop the Electoral College. They reference Alexander Hamilton picking Jefferson over Burr in the election of 1800. The nation was split and Hamilton's endorsement carried significant weight. Hamilton and Jefferson had been on opposite sides of many issues and were not friends. Hamilton had known Burr since they were young men. Even so, Hamilton endorsed Jefferson and Jefferson won in a landslide. He didn't pick Jefferson out of some kind of liberal ideal. He picked Jefferson because Jefferson stood for something. His whole life he had known Burr to be nothing but a squish, a politician. And that wasn't something Hamilton could respect.
I have seen conservatives speak out against the play without ever hearing a word of it. That is a mistake. We shouldn’t waste the opportunity we have been given. We should embrace Hamilton. Know it, share it, and talk about it with young people who are listening to every word. That is how they relate to the cause of liberty. If we want to have a discussion with them about our values, this is our chance.