My father used to justify his aversion to politics by saying that all leaders were corrupt, that no matter who won the election the poor people of the world would ultimately lose because politicians would always be in the pocket of the wealthy. He thought that big corporations were the secret hand that really pulled the strings behind the governments of the world.
Thomas Paine wrote "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." When I first got into punk, I believed that we, as musicians and artists, could change the world. That was a big part of why the punk movement was so exciting to me. I felt like we were doing things that hadn't been done before, that we were rejecting the establishment and building something new. As the original L.A punk scene eventually succumbed to drugs and commercialism, I lost much of that optimism. Hardcore punk went underground and then spread out worldwide, but by that time, I was out of punk and back into college.
In the early 80's, I went to Nicaragua to work with the people there and to learn about the changes that had taken place in that country after their revolution. Living there for a short time, I saw firsthand what my own government was doing to these impoverished people in the name of "defending our nation" against creeping Communism. It really opened my eyes to the way our media and our government worked hand in hand to spoon feed the U.S. public with the official story. I began to feel overwhelmed by the power of the invisible hand that my father had talked about.
I don't know when it happened to me, but I slowly started to adopt my father's hopeless and cynical view of politics. I still vote, sign petitions, and play my share of benefits, but for years now I've had the feeling that any substantial change was beyond what I could hope for. I can't afford to have this attitude anymore. I won't allow myself to go along with politics as usual without kicking and screaming and raising a fuss.
My government has gotten so far out of control and it's partly because of people just like me. I didn't vote for that man in the White House, but I can no longer accept that everyday, he is making decisions that I completely disagree with.
It's been a long time since I dared to hope that music could change the world. I've always resisted the impulse to preach politics to my audiences, but I feel I can no longer afford to be uninvolved in the process. I know that a lot of my friends feel the same way. Musicians and artists in the U.S. are often denigrated for expressing political opinions unless they support the status quo, which I find ridiculous since one of the most dynamic forces for social change during the past 40 years has been music, and specifically rock music.
It's time for involvement. Maybe we can't change the world with a song, but if enough of us get involved, we can change the leadership of this country come November, and that's a start.