ROCKTOBER 2004 : : VOTING ON THE MIND

GARRIN BENFIELD
Garrin Benfield

Why is it important to vote?

Voting is almost sacred to me. I've voted in every election available to me since I was 18. Local elections aren't as sexy as presidential politics, but your local representatives make decisions that will most likely affect your daily life. Having said that, we've seen some pretty exciting races in San Francisco, probably the only city in the world where the established Democratic Party is considered near-right wing! Though I wish some of the mainstream candidates would come out and say the riskier things you know they really feel, don't be too turned off by their caution. No candidate can be elected by one portion of the electorate. Winning office is about demonstrating willingness to compromise with integrity. Get the good guys in office (or the lesser of two evils) then hold their feet to the fire. That's our responsibility as voters, too, to remain aware once someone's achieved a representative office! And don't let anyone tell you there's no difference between the two major parties! That is propaganda, and just a cursory glance at the candidate's positions will demonstrate how stark the differences really are!!

Is this election any different than elections past?

This administration has so bungled everything from the living conditions of your average citizen, to our environment; to our essential relationships with world allies... we must insist on change! The reality is we may not get a new administration, and if not, Bush will not be reelected by a landslide. There will be no mandate for the success of his policies or bigoted philosophies. Never before has a political party so openly been beholden to an extreme religious agenda as the Republicans now are. Politicians come and go, but it's important to remember how they can set the course of the judicial and legislative branches for years to come! That's why you can't just think, "Oh, I'll vote next year..." It may be too late to stop the radicalization of our courts and congress. Don't think for a minute the Right Wing does not earnestly believe they are going to win the "culture war" in this country. They'll shove it down our throats with the widest smile you've ever seen!

Do politics have a place in music?
Why or why not?

Politics definitely have a place in music. I tend to think of the personal as political, and try to express my sentiments in ways that can be interpreted within the framework of a relationship or in the broader outside world. But all the power to those that feel drawn to spell it out, issue by issue. I've learned a lot listening to topical songwriters like Dylan, Difranco, and Franti, and I know others have, too... particularly younger folks who are not so drawn into politics. But for them, I would just say it's up to you to insist the political parties take you seriously by making your essential issues known! They will not listen to you if they don't know what you care about.

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JamBase | San Francisco
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Editor's note: While we did not set out with a particular political agenda we do realize that these responses have all been leaning Democratic, if there are any artists who can represent a Republican point of view we would love to hear from you.



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