TUCSON, Arizona, U.S.A. — Aiming to help unseat President George W. Bush, a group of musical artists are voicing their opinions and concerns through a concert tour of the electoral “swing-states” starting Friday.
Artists on the Vote for Change tour include Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, James Taylor, Jurassic 5, Bright Eyes, the Dixie Chicks, Babyface, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M, and many others.
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, but this election, his support is behind Democrat John Kerry.
“We have to get a new administration in first,” Vedder told Rolling Stone. “Then we can go back to the ideals that [Nader] was fighting for four years ago, and still is.”
“At some point, you can’t sit still,” The Associated Press reported Vedder saying at the tour’s announcement. “You can’t spend your whole life, when people are getting killed, without asking serious questions about why.”
The Vote for Change tour will include 34 shows in 28 cities over the course of one week, with concerts in Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio.
Proceeds from the concerts will go to MoveOn Political Action Committee and America Coming Together, two liberal organizations working to elect Kerry and other progressive candidates.
Let’s face it – people will pay more attention to what a celebrity has to say rather than the average person, so it is great to see these artists taking advantage of that.
However, their efforts to rally pro-Kerry voters to unseat Bush in the elections in November did not go unnoticed by supporters of the president.
N a t a l i e Maines of the Texas-based Dixie Chicks faced boycotts and even threats last year for telling a European audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.”
But later, she told E! Online, “We are compelled to do what we can to inspire other voters to get involved in this year’s election.”
While some dubbed the artists on this tour unpatriotic, and two Dallas radio stations took the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy-winning album Home off their play lists, this coalition of artists still adheres to their beliefs.
Springsteen, one of the headlining artists on this tour who had supported U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, but whose support for Bush waned with the invasion of Iraq, spelled out his views in an op-ed piece for The New York Times last month.
“I felt I couldn’t have written the music I’ve written, and been on stage singing about the things I’ve sung about for the last twenty-five years and not taken part in this particular election,” wrote Springsteen.
In the Times piece, Springsteen asked readers a very thought-provoking question, “Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens?”
It is obvious that these artists are exercising their freedom of speech to its fullest extent, but are the things they are saying worth hearing?
Absolutely. Every American has the right to know what is happening in their own country; especially the things that aren’t often spoken of, the things Bush and his administration would rather keep behind closed doors.
But how can those opposing the tour – people who consider themselves patriotic – argue that Bush has served his country well as president?
As long as thousands of American people must resort to sleeping on the streets while billions are spent sending space rovers to Mars, a change in leadership must take place.
“A vote for change is a vote for a stronger, safer, healthier America,” said Dave Matthews in a statement on MoveOn.org. “A vote for Bush is a vote for a divided, unstable, paranoid America. It is our duty to this beautiful land to let our voices be heard.”
Alkansa el-Badawi is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.