DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
I'm an immigrant and America has been great to me. This country represents a dream of what people of widely varying backgrounds can create together. This election is not only about what this country is now. It's also about what it can be. I'm an American, and it's my responsibility to say what I think. With what I see in the world today, I cannot justify not standing up and saying, "I feel with every bone in my body that this country is going in the wrong direction."
We've got to get somebody new in the White House. Being from South Africa, I know how much the rest of the world fears the United States right now. It's like if the world is a room, and everybody is in there, and suddenly somebody walks in who is seething and has headphones on, and the music is playing really loud, and he's armed. That's the way the world sees us. Everyone is on tiptoes, afraid of what this country might do. It's bound to scare everybody.
Do I fault Bush for skipping out during Vietnam and using his wealth to get him out of the war? Not at all. I would do the same thing to protect my child. Is it cowardice? Probably, but I'm a big coward myself. What sickens me is how Bush is trying to base his entire election on September 11th, as if he owns that day. I hope people don't fall for that. Bush took us into war for his own personal vendetta and for the personal gain of his cronies in the oil business. Yes, there was an evil man in power in Iraq, but now we're killing innocent people. If the media showed us the deaths of women and children being hit by our bombs, people would be outraged. I want the killing to stop. I want our soldiers to come home.
Once you know the facts, there's no question whether you should vote for Bush or Kerry. One of them represents the most elite people in America; the other is funded by labor unions and environmental groups. One wants prayer in school; the other doesn't. One thinks guns don't need safety devices; the other does. The stakes are too high - I'll take my chances with the guy that's backed by the Sierra Club rather than Halliburton.
People tell me, "You are a drunk and you play in a punk band. Why the fuck should we listen to you?" Musicians travel the world, and we see the hatred against America. We put out Rock Against Bush to get information out, because the media aren't doing their job. The response has been incredible. We've found that kids mostly care about the economy. I talked to this one kid in North Carolina who works at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He heard Michael Moore mentioned in one of our songs, so he went out and saw Fahrenheit 9/11 and got the entire work crew at KFC to register to vote. That is the grass roots - you touch a few people, and then they touch a few people. It keeps me going.
It pisses me off when people call us unpatriotic. True patriotism is loving your country enough to try to make it better. We are fucking traveling the country to spread the word. That is what patriotism is.
I voted for Bush in 2000. I was fresh out of high school. That's the way my parents were voting, so I just voted that way. If I could take it back, I would. Our president has pulled a blanket of fear over the country. He told us he had reasons to go to war, but where are the good-old weapons of mass destruction?
I've met so many people whose loved ones have died in Iraq. A woman named Cindy, whose husband was shot down in his F-18, came backstage at one of our concerts and collapsed in tears - she was hysterical with grief. She gave me her husband's picture. We talked about the election and how upset we were that her husband had to be where he was in the first place. That finalized it for me. If people who look to the commander in chief for support and wisdom don't trust him, it's time for a new one. That's all there is to it.
Today is the first day of school for my kids. I got one in eleventh grade and another in fifth grade. The older one looks upon this election almost like it's pop culture. One day she asked me about Fahrenheit 9/11, and she was talking about it like it was the latest Usher concert. You know, it's gonna be her world. And when a bunch of fifty- and sixty-year-olds fuck it up for them, that's not a cool thing. Sending these twenty- and thirty-year-olds overseas to fight and die, what the hell is that all about? The real axis of evil is Bush and Cheney. They have detached America from the rest of the planet by invading Iraq. Whenever people start saying God anointed them to do something, it's a turnoff, because I don't think anyone has God's beeper number.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
I've gone to Walter Reed Hospital and spent some time with kids who have lost their arms and legs fighting in Iraq. They're eighteen, nineteen, twenty years old, and they're the kind of kids who go to Dave Matthews Band concerts. They're brave and strong and willing to fight. But maybe they're fighting a war they didn't have to fight. We respect our Republican fans. But as a band, we all feel that the country is not going in the right direction.
I don't trust George Bush. I think he's a pawn. The people who are running this country are extremely intelligent; I think George Bush is just as much in the dark as I am, and it scares the shit out of me. He's about as far from a regular guy as possible. When your father is head of the CIA, then president of this country, and you breezed your way through college and dodged the draft, that doesn't make you a regular guy. Bush comes from privilege, and he has led an extraordinarily easy life.
I don't know when Republicans decided that being stubborn was a sign of integrity. Part of being a good president is being able to change directions when necessary, but Bush is inflexible. I'm worried about how dire things are in this country, but I have faith that Americans will get together and realize that we can live together securely if John Kerry is elected. I have been apathetic as a voter. But now I realize that the most important thing eighteen-year-olds can do is vote.
I don't understand the George Bush argument. If you wanna argue Republican or Democrat, that's one thing, but Bush - I haven't seen the argument as to why this guy should get four more years. I don't see why he should be running a baseball team, let alone be president. At one of the Democratic debates, Al Sharpton said, "I can guarantee that any one of us on the stage right now in his sleep would make a better president than George Bush."
What's at stake in this election? War. People's freedoms around the world and here at home. Women's right to choose, prayer in school, my grandmother getting medicine - the list could keep on going. This election really does seem crucial. If Bush gets re-elected, he will feel like the possibilities are limitless, that he can really do whatever he wants.
When people ask why this election is so close, I can't explain it. It's like trying to figure out how Billy Ray Cyrus sold 10 million records. The Republicans have done an extremely good job of appropriating populist themes. They somehow make it seem as though they're a party of the people, even though their policies hurt some of their most ardent supporters.
Bush's hypocrisy is simply staggering. He argues that stem-cell research is not justified because of the sanctity of unborn life - yet he insists that dropping bombs on innocent people will lead to a better world. I'm also worried that if he is re-elected, he may have the chance to appoint more conservative judges to the Supreme Court. He could undo three generations of progress in this country toward civil equality and women's rights.
I will vote for John Kerry, and I'll do it with a good conscience. I believe that he's our only shot at steering this ship back to some calmer waters. I agree that Kerry has flip-flopped on some ideas, but I take that as a sign of intelligence. I trust someone more if he re-examines his positions and has the ability to be introspective. There's no end to the horrific things you can do when you believe you're always right.
It's important for all of us to be aware of what's going on. I know it hurts to pay attention. Sometimes you're like, "I don't want to think about this crap." For young people, especially, it seems like politicians aren't speaking about our lives. But Kerry is passionate, and he's trying to get young people to pay attention, so that's pretty cool. He understands that we need to do more to improve education. So many dollars have been taken out of the schools under Bush, and they just get worse and worse.
To me, Bush comes off like a person reading a script. I thought his response to September 11th was very insincere. The entire time, he seemed disconnected, like he didn't experience the same thing the rest of us experienced. He rushed into the war in Iraq abruptly, like a boy playing with a truck: "This is my truck! You stepped on it, so I'm throwing your truck out the window!" It wasn't handled the way a real adult would handle a situation.
The polarization caused by this election is not good for anyone. I played "Pink Houses" at an Indianapolis Colts game recently, and people booed. This is in Indiana! I've never been booed there in my life. Kerry-Edwards offers us a fresh start. It is a ticket of hope.
During the Vietnam War, you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing an image that made you sick. Guys with legs blown off, guys just lying there dead. It made our nation say, "Fuck this! Even if we win, we lose." If the media showed that stuff now, people would have a whole different take on Iraq.
I'm afraid they're going to reinstitute the draft. I have daughters who are nineteen, twenty-two and thirty. If Bush gets re-elected, those Mellencamps are all going to be in the Army. So might you.
For women, our road will always be more difficult - yet all the Bush administration does is put huge potholes in our way. John Kerry has consistently been on the side of equal opportunity, and he supports a woman's right to choose. He is a smart man. He knows that the subject of same-sex marriage will be resolved within the next decade in the courts, and all he has to do is stay out of the way. He was one of only nineteen senators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act - he knew it wasn't right, and he knew what the future holds. I just want a president who will not stand in the way of change, and John Kerry will not.
My brother is a member of the Special Forces stationed in the Middle East, so I have a direct connection to the war in Iraq. When Blink-182 played there six months into the conflict, the troops were not happy about their friends getting shot at and dying. They want to believe that what they're doing is worth their lives. But every reason Bush gave for invading has been found to be wrong.
Before he was elected president, he bankrupted three companies, was an alcoholic for a while and had six years of government experience. His decision-making process and communication skills are so bad that there's nothing he can do without pissing off the world. Kerry would restore respect for America. He understands that there are great cultures and great thinkers across the globe. He won the military's second-highest honor in Vietnam, and he spent twenty years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The guy has so much experience it's unreal. He deserves a shot.
Bush is like someone's old dad who just doesn't get it, a person who's not able to grow or change. Among musicians, no one is backing Bush. Except for Ted Nugent, the guy who wears loincloths.
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
Bush and Cheney and their whole team have been a disaster for the U.S. and the rest of the world. The U.N. has been neutralized as a peaceful solution to conflict. The war in Iraq has become a brutal occupation; our soldiers die not knowing why they were sent there in the first place. We went from a surplus economy to a high deficit. Unemployment is up, the dollar is down, and the environment is weeping. We need someone with a high degree of both intelligence and compassion in the White House, someone deserving of the good will of the American people. Bush and Co. do not deserve us as their public.
We are engaged in a war with fundamentalist Islam that we can't win. But we have a president who has become a fundamentalist himself, and he thinks he can win it. The administration is fond of saying that the terrorists hate us because we're free. That's not true - they hate us because we support the House of Saud and Israel. Until we're willing to talk about those two things, we're going to be in big trouble.
You can't cut taxes and conquer the world at the same time. Nobody's ever tried to do that, and the reason is because it's stupid. What part of world history did Bush miss? The way you build an empire is you tax the fuck out of your citizens and draft the fuck outta them, 'cause you have to have an army and you have to feed them. The thing that scares me more than anything else is that if Bush is re-elected, he's gonna have to institute a draft next year. They're gonna need some fresh bodies out there, and they can't do that without a draft. I've got a son who's twenty-two and a son who's seventeen, so I've got a dog in this fight. That's why I support John Kerry.
I have no sense of Bush as a man. It's impossible to distinguish his personal interests from the interests of those closest to him. What is his own agenda, vs. the agenda of guys like Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz? I don't think I've ever heard him speak on an issue where it seemed to be coming directly from himself.
John Kerry offers the promise of returning to the democratic system I was brought up believing in. He wants to provide the opportunity and education and health care we deserve. He wants to safeguard the welfare of all citizens, especially the poor - not just those who have the most. He wants to get us back to being a responsible and respected world citizen, as opposed to a careless, misdirected, hated bully. It's really one of history's great lost opportunities that we squandered all the good will we enjoyed from the rest of the world after September 11th.
The front page is filled with Iraq, terrorism, the deficit, all these giant threats. It's like we've got a bad CEO. Nothing personal, Mr. Bush, but I don't think you're running this country well. I think you're running it into the ground, and it's my personal opinion that we need a regime change. You're fired. That's all. Nothing personal, man. Maybe we'll go out and have a glass of wine sometime and talk about it after the election. He might be a charming guy. But, boy, is he a fucked CEO.
BLACK EYED PEAS
This election is not about the war in Iraq - it's about the war we're neglecting in our own country. We should be more concerned about people who are on drugs, who can't get a meal, who aren't being educated. Our education system is fucked up. Teachers are getting paid nickels, and I'm getting lots of money to rhyme cat with bat. This election should be about how we are doing as a whole. From that standpoint, I think Bush has been a horrible president. There are people all over the world who depend on us, but they think we don't care about them - we'd rather watch American Idol. Bush doesn't understand that there is so much we can learn from the rest of the world. We're not in the world by ourselves, but we act like we are.
It's important to get swing voters to support Kerry. But it's also important to communicate with conservative Republicans and say, "Listen, by traditional conservative criteria, George Bush is a bad president. His foreign policy is in shambles, his economic policy is in shambles." You can be conservative and still not like George Bush. People like him because they think he seems like a strong guy who would be good to have a BBQ with. But shouldn't you hold the president to higher standards than who would you like to have a BBQ with?
It's about goddamn time people started waking up. I got two kids, and I don't want no war going on while I'm raising them. Everything that is happening right now is gonna be their social-studies lesson. We need to get things on the right track for them. We got to get some more jobs for people, because that's gonna be the main problem for years to come. A lot of felons can't get jobs, and that creates more crime.
There's definitely a lot of hatred for Bush right now. He lost my trust a long time ago, when I woke up in my bed and found out the election had been rigged. I think Kerry's aiight. Everyone always ignores the hood, but I think he's a little bit more for the people than Bush. I'm for whatever is gonna make a little bit of a change. It gotta start from a pebble to get to a boulder.
I was an elected delegate from Oregon to the Democratic National Convention. The more I've gotten to know Kerry, the more I think he's the man for the job. I'm inspired by his humanity and his strength to be able to say unpopular things. He came back from Vietnam and said, "We're making a mistake there." This was a decorated guy, and these horrible Swift-boat people are trying to make him into a bad guy by picking four words out of a sentence and repeating them over and over. It's sad. The Republicans refuse to talk about issues - they just try and make people who are Christians believe that Bush is the only choice. As a Christian, I am offended and ashamed by that - but then again, I am offended and ashamed by most people who call themselves Christian.
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
I voted for Nader in the last two elections, but I'm going to vote for Kerry this time. If Bush had won an election based on 100 percent of the eligible people voting, I'd be pissed, but I couldn't complain because I'd at least know I'm in the minority. But only forty-five percent of the eligible population voted last time, and less than half of them voted for Bush.
He is like the distant friend who somehow ends up going to the party with you, and you worry he's going to get drunk and say the wrong thing and just start talking craziness. He opens his mouth and I can't trust what's gonna come out of it. By making a fool out of himself, he makes a fool out of all of us.
Ralph Nader is the most arrogant and narcissistic guy I've ever met. I had a meeting with him in the early Nineties. I was jazzed going into the meeting, and I was disgusted leaving. I don't think I've ever met a bigger asshole. If he hadn't run in the last election, we wouldn't be in Iraq and thousands of people wouldn't have died needlessly. And still he's well pleased to go in and be the spoiler again!
Harry Truman said that the one crime more heinous than treason is war profiteering, and yet we have the company that our vice president is still on retainer to - which is illegal - making a huge fortune. Every time the terrorists blow up another pipeline over there, Halliburton makes millions of dollars pasting it back together. They don't even have to be pumping oil to be making money. This is who owns our government now.
Though I've never really endorsed a political candidate before, I'm going to have to this time. I liked the look in Kerry's eye when I met him. He looks like an aware human being and a guy with a sense of humor. So we're just going to have to hope and pray that the debates go well.
The people who are in charge now are old hands who were involved in the governments of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush Sr. They're radicals and zealots whose attitude is "Bring it on." Some of them want a presence in the Middle East for oil, and some just want a front-row seat for the apocalypse.
Here at home, it's hard to imagine the number of environmental gains that have already been rolled back by the Bush administration. It's like a football game: They have given the ball to corporate interests and sent them down the field while they block for them. It's not conservatism - it's just the opposite. They are using up our natural resources and selling them to the highest bidder. This administration has no respect for the rule of law itself. Whenever anyone tries to protect the environment, they just get their gnarliest and meanest lawyers to out-ugly everyone.
I supported ralph nader in 2000, but it's a time of crisis. We have to get a new administration in. All of us who supported Ralph last time should get down on our knees and say, "Can you bow out on October 3rd? We'll get back to the ideals you're fighting for on November 3rd."
A year ago it seemed impossible to criticize Bush, because of September 11th. The Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore were attacked for speaking out. Now you've got books full of facts that show how Bush has failed. Those people dissenting a year ago were right.
We have to stop treating the rest of the world like our subjects. What is the only institution more powerful than the United States government - one that can move things in a different direction? It's the American people. It's the voters. That's what I feel most strongly about: encouraging people who don't normally vote to understand their responsibility.
The vote for change tour is a wake-up call. We may alienate some fans over this. I don't like that - I prefer to have music stand apart from political feelings. But this is so important, it's worth it. If I piss a few people off, good. Because, frankly, I'm scared. Unlike a lot of political issues, this is literally life or death. Kerry understands how the world works, in a way that Bush does not. When Bush ran the first time, I realized something: I want my president to be smarter than I am. I don't ask much, but I want him to be smarter than me.
Also See: "We've Been Misled"