Politically octave

Chris Carmona

So it’s approaching: Bush’s re-election. It appears that because so many people both love and hate this President, an abnormally large amount of the population has become politically involved. Last election, the highest amount of young voters registered and voted, and this election should follow the same trend. This fact reveals that young voters are particularly important for our current election, so the first step is discovering how to sway these voters. Musicians have either realized this trend or simply feel that much contempt for George W.

Either way, they have become more involved now than ever in this year’s Presidential campaign. Popular musicians including James Taylor, The Dixie Chicks, Dave Matthews, NOFX, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp have taken a stance against the President and pleaded with young Americans to vote.

All of these musicians oppose Bush’s foreign policy, but each member has its own particular bone to pick with other aspects of Bush’s presidential reign. Don Henley, member of the Eagles (ask your parents about them), is particularly concerned with media censorship rules. Bush has ties with a large majority of popular radio stations, and after the horror of Sept. 11, a list was sent out restricting certain songs and artists. This list included the politically charged Rage Against the Machine and the humanitarian sentiments of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Steve Earle is also concerned about the media consolidation, but places more emphasis on Bush’s economic policy. Well, it seems Earle feels compassion for the lower income sector, who perpetuate within a vicious cycle of poverty. In Rolling Stone Magazine, John Mellencamp raises the question, “why are we funding Iraq’s reconstruction instead of using that money on domestic reform?”

All of these artists are asking questions that any everyday American can and sometimes does ask. Some people may wonder what makes these people so special? Why do they feel a need to involve themselves in politics? Well, children of common suburbia get a slightly isolated view of the United States. Not to say they’re ignorant, they’re simply isolated from the harsh reality of economically disasterous areas of the country.

In the aforementioned Rolling Stone article, Henley notes that musicians are not quite as isolated: “We travel. We see what the economy is like in every city. We take the temperature between 10,000 and 20,000 people four nights a week.” Aside from this fact, musicians have influential voices in the media and in their fans. They exercise their same right, if not more, to organize groups for their particular party.

Just as corporations may feel the pressure of diminishing their public persona, musicians also face the threat of public ostracism by many of their devoted fans. When Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told a London audience, “We’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” more than 50 radio stations pulled the Dixie Chicks’ songs off the air.

When certain musicians appeal to a group of fans that may be geared towards an opposite political view, speaking their mind is both a bold and courageous decision to make. Regardless of what inevitable fate this year’s election holds, the involvement of musicians in the political voice of America will hopefully notify young white suburbia of political stances, often times different than their present convictions. Ideologies are created for a reason, and if economics and music continue to feed the hunger pangs of young Americans, the future of the country may become a controversial state of differing opinions.