The Pusher

Over time, a “pusher” has become the description of a shady drug dealer. He/she’s the one who “pushes” or sells the product, using aggressive behavior. But, we think the term is broader than that—it’s simply someone who applies pressure to get their way.

Alfalfa bullied by Butch

We remember the old “Our Gang” episodes. Spanky and Alfalfa are typically trying to outfox the wrath of Butch, the neighborhood bully. Butch’s threats were always physical, with him promising to “lick” any body who dared cross him. The Gang’s plans were always outlandish. They went to great lengths to avoid the dreaded fight. The Gang usually avoided any real physical encounter with Butch, but his bullying tactics were enough to invoke fear. His menacing attitude was usually what kept the Gang looking over their shoulders, taking precautions to avoid him at all cost. Those shows characterized life in the 1930s-50s and every child who watched understood that there are  bullies and people who get bullied. Not much has really changed in 90 years! (Our Gang “Fishy Tales” featuring Butch the bully).

United States Congress

We’ve noticed the bully behavior being demonstrated more and more in current politics where “division” is the norm. A congressperson takes the floor and delivers a message without entertaining opposing opinions or even comments. They frequently talk over their colleagues, rarely relinquishing the floor. Their opinion is the only “logical” one, and they might even believe their own rhetoric, but that’s not really a requirement. Their objective is to convince others to believe their story. They must remain loyal to the message even if it doesn’t make sense, using repetition of key phrases to push their narrative, no matter what. Real listening and compromise are hard to find.

Personal Power Struggle

On a more personal level, take any disagreement between 2 people. One usually is more aggressive than the other, insisting that their way as the only answer. It typically begins with 2 different perspectives. You see it your way, I see it mine. At first, it’s a gentle persuasion. Followed, perhaps, by firm suggesting, segueing into actively pressing. Coaxing. Then the “conversation” can escalate into a heated debate. If that isn’t working, the disagreement ratchets into a full-blown argument. No one is listening. We talk over one another. We insist. The insistence becomes even stronger. Now someone is pushing and someone is being pushed. Eventually, someone backs off—gives in—falls.

Nobody wins.



Bound and determined, you begin coaxing

Brash and headstrong, you say you know best

Bold and self-confident, there’s only one answer

You push and push and push and push and push till I fall for your lies

Without rhyme or reason, you chase a hero quite imaginary

Feels a bit like I’m losing ground while holding on to you

What are you doing, what are you saying to me

Tell me the truth for once, or maybe just don’t lie to me

I need to get my bearings, resist this downward spin

On and on in endless free-fall

Coarse and conniving, you resume coaxing

Scheming and selfish, sure you know best

Rash and reckless, you have all the answers

You push and push and push and push and push til I fall for your lies

Something close to treason, you fly a flag that’s quite imaginary

Feels a bit like I’m losing ground, while holding on to you

You push and push and push til I fall, holding on to you

While holding on to you

I’m on to you


This story and music are dedicated to our capacity to listen, empathize and hold compassion for all.


From album – Hold to the Heart
Track released – July 1, 2020
Cheryl Martlage – Lyrics, Vocals and Production
Emerson Martlage – Music, Guitar, Vocals and Production
Inspiration – personal experiences and the authoritarian tendencies around the world