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Rock 'n' Roll remix: Strummin' for political principle ain't new page 2
Politically motivated concert series is not unwelcome or unprecedented

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Date published: 8/15/2004


Then, immediately after 9/11 and with a subsequent album, Springsteen helped the nation grieve, and then begin to heal, with his words and music.

John Mellencamp has made the plight of the American farmer his cause celèbre with his series of Farm Aid concerts and lyrics such as:

Rain on the scarecrow,

Blood on the plow

This land fed a nation,

This land made me proud

And son I'm sorry there's no legacy for you now

Rain on the scarecrow,

Blood on the plow

Rain on the scarecrow,

Blood on the plow.

Perhaps you recall "Four Dead in Ohio," a song about the shooting of four Kent State students by National Guardsmen, written by Neil Young of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:

Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'

We're finally on our own

This summer I hear the drummin'

Four dead in Ohio.

And then there's Woodstock, the 1969 music festival that, by demanding nothing more than peace, made a more lasting political statement than the riots, demonstrations, and assassinations of the tumultuous Vietnam era.

There are countless other examples of musicians involving themselves in politics and using their popularity as a soapbox. The upcoming concert series is hardly precedent-setting, but it is welcome and exciting.

The outpouring of anti-Bush sentiment as we approach the first presidential election since Sept. 11 is indeed remarkable. On that day and the weeks and months that followed, Americans rallied around the president as they should have. We had not felt such unity as a nation perhaps since Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when we shared a determination to defeat a known enemy. This time, however, the enemy is much more difficult to identify and define. We have to be able to trust federal intelligence-gatherers, as well as how the president acts on that information. But evidently we can't.

The campaign rhetoric on both sides laments that in the few years since 9/11, Americans have become even more politically segregated. It is no coincidence that this has taken place during the most potent years of the Bush administration. We've taken our places across the political spectrum, and have become even more unable, or unwilling, to reach a common ground on any issue we deem worthy of debate.

Those of us who already see the Bush administration as the primary source of our divisiveness don't need these musicians to persuade us to vote against him. We don't need to be convinced that, as a nation and as individuals, we are suffering under his leadership. Bush chooses not to focus on the pride we share as Americans, but rather encourages the disdain we feel for one another over what our goals and levels of tolerance as a nation should be.

But for those who are ignoring the political process, perhaps Springsteen and company will help them discover that whether it's his leadership, his mental acuity, his motives, his vision, his advisers, or all of the above, America will be better off without George Bush as president.

If they also get the message that they can't be part of the solution if they stay home on Tuesday, Nov. 3, rock on.

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