If you’re reading this website today, you probably care about music. You probably care about music more than most things, because it’s Election Day — a really big Election Day — and you should probably be voting, or at least following the election results on a more politically-minded website like HuffingtonPost or Drudge Report or Politico. But you’re here, and we appreciate that. Maybe you came to check out Rufus Wainwright‘s thoughts on Obama before casting your ballot. Did you? Smart move. Or maybe you were like, “I wonder if the author of “N****s In Paris” and “2 Many Hoes“ has any advice for the president?” Good for you. You clearly care about the issues.
But recording artists, as politically well-informed as they may be, can also be elusive and confusing. Remember back in September when Bob Dylan was interviewed by Rolling Stone and he refused to admit that people who disagree with Obama are racists? “What the fuck do you want me to say?” he grumpily asked the writer. Well duh, Bob, we want you to tell us who to vote for. The answer, despite your eternal optimism, isn’t blowing in the wind.
Even when artists come out and tell us what to think, it’s still difficult to determine whether they’re fucking with us. Nicki Minaj dropped a bombshell on “Mercy,” a track from Lil Wayne‘s mixtape Dedication 4, where she rapped “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/ You lazy bitches are fucking up the economy.” Later, she tweeted her support for Obama and thanked him for recognizing her “creative humor & sarcasm.” But which part was supposed to be sarcastic? The part about us being lazy bitches, or her supporting Obama?
The key to understanding political guidance from your favorite artists is learning how to read between the lines. It’s not what they say, it’s how they fail miserably at saying what they think they’re saying. They can make a very convincing case by not making a very convincing case, if you know what I mean. For instance, I voted for Obama, but I didn’t realize how right that decision was until I read the clumsy advice of musicians (some of whom I admire) trying to explain why voting for Obama was wrong.
If you’re still on the fence about whether to vote for Obama, here are six reasons why it’s probably a good idea, thanks to a music community that didn’t mean to endorse Obama but kinda did anyway.
1. Because He Won’t Sell Obama Coffins To Fix the Economy
During an interview with Fox and Friends, Gene Simmons explained why Romney is more qualified to be the leader of the free world. “I have some real issues with the economy and how it’s being done,” he said. “America should be in business and it should be run by businessmen. That’s my philosophy.” And Simmons knows a thing or two about running a business. He took the band KISS, which was actually semi-interesting and borderline cool during the mid-’70s, and turned it into a soulless money-making machine. Simmons is a multi-millionaire, and he didn’t do it by selling records. He did it by merchandizing his image with such tasteless abandon that he makes Walt Disney look like Kurt Cobain. The lunch boxes and action figures were fine, but when you sell what remains of your creative dignity to have your face on a pasta sauce, cologne, diaper bag, lycra cycling shorts, and casket, it’s not even worth arguing that you care about anything but money.
Gene Simmons deriding Obama as a crappy businessman is the highest compliment he could have given the president. It’s like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying “Your anti-Semitism is amateurish.”
2. Because You Just Remembered You Have Gay Friends
Kelly Clarkson was maybe too impulsive last December when she tweeted “I love Ron Paul … If he wins the nomination for the Republican Party in 2012, he’s got my vote. Too bad he probably won’t.” She never explained exactly she liked about the openly anti-gay politician, but she quickly realized her mistake. “I support gay rights,” she clarified, “straight rights, women’s rights, men’s rights, white/black/purple/orange rights.” Her weird Dr. Seuss semi-apology was only the beginning. She later revealed to the U.K. tabloid Daily Star. “I’m probably going to vote for Obama again. I can’t support Romney’s policies as I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t think it’s fair they can’t get married.”
Thank goodness Clarkson realized she has gay friends! Can you imagine how embarrassing that could’ve been for her? She would’ve been like, “I totally voted for Romney. So much better than that Ron Paul guy, who I was totally kidding about liking.” And her gay friends would’ve been like, “You know he doesn’t support gay marriage at all, right? And his VP candidate Paul Ryan thinks gay marriage isn’t a ‘human value’?” And she would’ve been like, “Awwwk-ward!”
3. Because ObamaCare Provides Mental Health Treatments To Those Who Really Need It. (We’re Looking At You, Dave Mustaine.)
When I talked to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine last December, he said a few things that I honestly thought were meant in jest. “They’re taking God out of the schools to dumb us down,” he claimed, blaming much of the religion repression on the Obama administration. As it turns out, he wasn’t kidding. And I barely scratched the surface of Mustaine’s wacky paranoia. Last August, during a concert in Singapore, he shared his conspiracy theory that Obama might be killing innocent people for his own fiendish agenda. “Back in my country, my president is trying to pass a gun ban so he’s staging all of these murders,” Mustaine told the crowd. “The ‘Fast and Furious’ thing down at the border. And Aurora, Colorado, all the people that were killed there. And now, the beautiful people at the Sikh temple. I don’t know where I’m gonna live if America keeps going the way it’s going because it looks like it’s turning into Nazi America.”
Have you heard about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? It’s a pretty nifty document. It was signed into law by Obama in 2010, and upheld by the Supreme Court last summer. Among the many awesome things about it, it requires that health insurance providers offer benefits for mental health treatments that are comparable to other medical conditions. In other words, having cancer is not more or less important than needing a check up from the neck up. And here’s where it gets really beautiful. You can’t be denied for a pre-existing condition. For instance, let’s say you’re quoted in the media saying something bonkers, like “When you look back in history at what Michelle [Obama] wore at his inauguration and she had a black dress on with two red triangles, so she looked like a black widow turned upside down. So there’s gotta be some symbology there. You just don’t wear something like that to some event like that without there being some kind of future message being told.” An insurance provider can’t hear that and think, “Jesus, this guy is crazier than a shit-house rat. No way we’re insuring him.” They can’t do that now.
So go on, Dave. Keep those nutty theories coming. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Obama has your back.
4. Because It Proves You Can Identify the Difference Between Actual Muslims and Boogie-Man Muslims
During a show at the Iowa State Fair in August, Hank Williams Jr. described Obama as a “Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him.” But that’s not entirely surprising, because Hank Williams Jr. is an idiot.
There’s really no point in arguing that Obama isn’t a Muslim. It’s like arguing that taking a photograph doesn’t steal a piece of your soul. You should already know that. But there are people — a staggeringly large number of people — who sincerely believe that Obama has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. So many people believe it that when Madonna announced during a concert that “we have a black Muslim in the White House, for better or worse” it was not immediately recognized as a joke. She actually had to release a statement a few days later, pointing out the obvious that she was “being ironic on stage. Yes, I know Obama is not a Muslim.” Maybe it wasn’t the funniest execution of irony, but it’s still stunning that it needed clarifying. If she’d said “We have a president in the White House who’s been possessed by the spirit of Herbert Hoover. It’s a puppet regime controlled from beyond the grave, for better or worse,” it wouldn’t have been necessary to explain that she was kidding. And honestly, the Herbert Hoover scenario is more likely than Obama being a Muslim.
Hank Williams Jr. did not release a statement claiming he was being ironic when he called Obama a Muslim, because as previously mentioned, he’s an idiot. This election is your chance to prove you’re smarter than Hank Williams Jr. and just as smart (or smarter) than Madonna.
5. Because He Didn’t Try to Push Meat Loaf‘s Wheelchair Off a Cliff, Metaphorically or Otherwise
At a Romney rally in Ohio, Meat Loaf proved that political metaphors are hard work. “There has (sic) storm clouds come over the United States,” Meat said, with the grammatical finesse of a prepubescent having an aneurysm. “There is (sic) thunderstorms over Europe. There are hail storms — and I mean major hail storms — in the Middle East.” First of all, you probably want to avoid extreme weather metaphors when talking up a political party that thinks global warming is a myth. Also, if you’re going to use storms as your scary literary conceit, maybe you take a cue from Martin Luther King Jr. When the good Reverend warned of the “dark clouds of racial prejudice,” he didn’t turn his metaphor into a disaster movie. He didn’t say “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away. And that the thunderstorms of hatred and discrimination don’t crash down on us like a motherfucker. And the hail storms – and I mean major hail storms – of social injustice give us a break already.”
Meat went on to praise Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, who he insisted “has not pushed me off the cliff in a wheelchair.” He was referring to a campaign ad in which an elderly lady is pushed off a cliff. But that, as hopefully Meat realizes, was a metaphor, not a literal accusation. Nobody is accusing Paul Ryan of murdering old women Wile E. Coyote style. It makes no sense to attack the fictional reality of a metaphor. It’d be like saying, “I was just in the Middle East. There was no hail. Not a drop of snow anywhere. I brought my heavy coat and everything. Meat Loaf, why have you deceived us?”
6. Because a Second Obama Term Will Kill Ted Nugent
I wasn’t aware that the U.S. Presidency actually changed the molecular composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. But if a recording artist says it’s true, they must know something I don’t. Back in May, Cher shared this apocalyptic tweet: “If ROMNEY gets elected I don’t know if I can breathe same air as Him & his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters.” Yikes. This is more serious than I thought. I’ve never been a fan of Cher’s music, but I am a compassionate human being. Whatever your political leanings, you need to stop and ask yourself, “Is it worth Cher being asphyxiated?”
But here’s the flip side of that coin. Ted Nugent said more or less the same thing, except about Obama. While I’m not not a fan of Cher, I am not a fan of Ted Nugent. I think he’s a gun-toting moron who’s never written or recorded anything to warrant the attention he’s repeatedly given for being such a horrible human being. And I say that as somebody born and raised in Michigan. So to say the least, I was intrigued when he made this tantalizing announcement last April:
“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
Wow, right? Who thought it would’ve been that easy? I thought the best we could hope for was some Dick Cheney-esque hunting “accident.” But getting rid of Ted Nugent is as apparently as easy as pulling the lever for Obama today. I’m not saying I want Nugent to die. I just want him to stop talking. And if this is what it takes, well, who are we to stand in the way? He made the offer, not us.
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Still not convinced? Perhaps this will help.
Of everything said about the upcoming election, nobody boiled it down to its essential essence quite like Stephen Stills, the 67-year-old Boomer who wrote “For What It’s Worth,” a song that’s either about skittish hippies or opossums. He summed up his reasons for supporting Obama over Mitt Romney in the simplest possible language. Romney, he says, is “a churlish little prick.”
I really don’t have much to add to that. It’s fine if you don’t agree with Obama. You can disagree with his policies, and complain that he hasn’t fixed the economy as fast as you would like, and worry bizarrely that taxing the rich somehow means we’re becoming a socialist state. Nitpick over the issues all you want. But make no mistake, as the reasons laid out here make clear, a vote for Romney is a vote for a churlish little prick.
Happy voting, everyone!
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, on MTVHive.com.)