Change your mind…The Boss says you should

Musicians kick off Vote for Change tour

I was all set to vote Bush in November, but since Springsteen is my favorite musician and he says Bush must go, I guess I’ll vote Kerry.

Ya think?

This isn’t some sort of “get out the vote” program. This isn’t an effort to increase awareness of and participation in the American political process. Springsteen, R.E.M., and other prominent musicians are going on tour to promote regime change in America. Period.

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe told The Associated Press that the goal is to push for an overall change in the country’s leadership, including the election of Democratic Sen. John Kerry as president.

Non-partisan? Non way.

The tour, also featuring Pearl Jam, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp and others, includes 37 shows in 30 cities through Oct. 11. Proceeds will go to America Coming Together, or ACT, a group raising money for Democratic candidates.

I can’t wait to see Big Media calling for John Kerry to denounce the 527 groups organizing and sponsoring this tour.

As I’ve said before, I have no real problem with famous types taking advantage of the spotlight and speaking their minds. But what qualifications does Springsteen have to know what’s right for America that I don’t have? Which one of us is probably more “in tune” with the ordinary working American? I spend a lot of my time reading, researching, and writing about political and military matters. Just because he can play a guitar and sing a song doesn’t really qualify him to determine the best leader for this nation, does it?

“Get out the vote” is one thing. Active campaigning for a candidate is another. Springsteen and everyone else has the right to act in the way his or her heart tells him or her to. But I’d suggest that non-affiliated military veterans who served with and around John Kerry in Vietnam are more qualified to speak about John Kerry’s performance during and after his service in the war than a musical artist is to speak about the leadership of our nation.

In October, when Bruce implored the crowd to “shout a little louder if you want the president impeached” I wrote

Bruce is no idiot. In fact, I think he’s probably one of the smarter, more insightful rock stars out there. But his call for impeachment is really just plain silly and illustrates the fact that he’s better at writing and singing songs than he is at foreign policy or at leading the nation.

And Chris Hall of Spacecraft commented

The Rising is an excellent musical memorial to 9/11, but it doesn’t solve the problems. Nor does the call for impeachment.

In January, when talk of a “draft” to enlist Springsteen for an anti-Bush concert in New York during the GOP Convention came up, the Boss declined. Apparently, he had a change of heart about the concept.

Talk (and sing) all you want. But don’t pretend that you hold some sort of high ground over those that listen to your music or support your careers.

UPDATE: Okay. Maybe I’ve got WAY too much respect for the man and his music. Here’s part of his show on the Vote For Change tour according to Newsweek:

The Boss kept his evangelical shtick going, inviting anyone with a bowtie in the audience to join him on stage. A planted nerd appeared on stage, bowtie and all. Kneeling before the crowd, Springsteen asked the audience to shout “Halliburton” three times. After the chant, the man leapt to his feet and shouted, “I’m switching!”

Very deep and meaningful. I can see he’s put a lot of thought into this.

Also, the Newsweek article has this:

Surprisingly, there were no overt demonstrations before the show, nor were there visible anti-Bush signs inside the stadium, but the evening still packed a political punch. Without being preachy, the artists were able to make their points through their carefully chosen material.

following this:

Between the subtle artist interviews that played on video monitors between band sets, Springsteen’s playful sermons and Bright Eyes’ front man Conor Oberst’s blunt plea for high voter turnout so that “We don’t have to have this madman run our country anymore,” the issue of purpose was clear without being overpowering. (emphasis mine)

So what, exactly, would Newsweek consider “overt”, then?

It’s a shame to see what I consider to be respectable music stars (well, some of them, anyways) hitching their horses up so plainly to a candidate. It’s even more of a shame to see them acting so infantile while doing so.

Maybe that reflects what they think of their audience? Or at least the ones that they think they can influence?