Is 'Not Punk'
By Thom White
LOS ANGELES -- February 5, 2004 -- NOFX's Fat Mike
Burkett is spearheading an effort to coordinate punk rock fans to
stop George W. Bush from being elected in 2004. Burkett's record
label Fat Wreck
Chords is releasing a "Rock Against Bush" compilation
CD in April 2004, and proceeds from the CD ($8.98 retail price)
will help defray the costs of the "Punk Voter" project,
a summer tour that aims to mobilize young voters against the sitting
president, and features many notable mainstream punk & alternative
An alphabetical list of just some of the top bands
supporting the "Rock Against Bush" campaign is quite impressive:
Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, Blink, Circle Jerks, Descendents, The Donnas,
Foo Fighters, Green Day, Mike Watt, Mudhoney, Pennywise, Tilt (and
a web site started by Fat Mike, will serve as a meeting ground and
source of information for those following the "Rock Against
Bush" tour and voter registration drive. Members of Punk Voter
intend to "expose the Bush Administration's incredibly bad
policies" and "educate, register, and mobilize over 500,000
of today's youth as one voice."
The owners of two leading California punk labels,
Brett Gurewitz of Epitaph Records, and Jello
Biafra (Eric Boucher) of Alternative Tentacles, are sponsoring
Punk Voter and the "Rock Against Bush" tour. Wayne Kramer
of MC5 and Billy Gould of Faith No More are also taking leading
roles to make sure the campaign is a success and that George W.
Bush is not chosen president again in 2004.
The "Rock Against Bush" compilation CD
will appear in April 2004 as part of the national public relations
effort kicking off the tour. But NOFX plans to kickstart their Punk Voter
/ "Rock Against Bush" campaign live in March 2004 with
some spontaneous revolutionary action at the South By Southwest
(SXSW) music convention in Austin, Texas. The "Rock Against
Bush" tour will thus begin by piercing into the heart of Bush
Country, a bold first step indeed, before moving on to rough American
battleground states closer to the November 2 election to continue
spreading the gospel word against the president.
NOFX first gave notice that they would be getting
more 'political' with their 1999 release The Decline, an
18-minute punk rock epic that alluded to a cultural 'decline' in
the USA and unleashed a politically-charged assault against religious
Americans who come bearing arms. NOFX's latest record The War
on Errorism (2003) is even more blunt in its opposition to policies
of the current administration.
'Speaking with one voice'
Punk Voter's first goal is to convince rock fans
to not vote for George W. Bush. There are many reasons to be angry
with Bush the Younger. One could list off a number of domestic issues,
but it is sufficient to mention the 448 dead American souls (as
of 12/12/2003), the 11,000 maimed American servicemen, and the uncounted
number of dead and mutilated, yet liberated, Iraqis (tens of thousands,
hundreds of thousands, it is difficult to know) that have resulted
from an invasion originally advertised by the Bush Administration
as necessary to protect Americans against Iraq's WMDs. If,
on March 19, 2003, the American democracy in fact unleashed its
massively destructive weapons on another nation, Iraq, that did
not possess any weapons of mass destruction (as her foreign ministers
had protested profusely for months in advance), was this invasion
& conquest really necessary to protect Americans?
The apparent non-existence of these dreadful weapons
that threatened the homeland has obliged Bush & Co. to invent
and spin more PR-friendly reasons to justify the aggressive war
-- Saddam's personal evilness, or the Pollyannish possibility that
all these U.S. bombs and independent contractors might bring freedom
and democracy to Iraq. Many Americans have perished or been wounded
in accidents while on mission fighting in an Iraq war that is anything
but accidental. Remember August 2002 to March 2003: Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Blair, Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rice, Powell, all said military action,
regime change, invasion was necessary to protect Americans.
Bush, the Yale graduate from a rich conservative
family, has failed. Will John Kerry, the Yale graduate from a rich
conservative family, treat Americans (and our volunteer army) any
better? Punk Voter wants American youth to "speak with one
voice" in the 2004 election. If Kerry becomes the establishment
"opposition" to Bush, will Punk Voter simply throw its
weight behind this "Bush-Lite" candidate? It remains to
be seen whether NOFX et al. will encourage Americans to do critical
thinking and to vote their conscious, or simply urge young kids
to 'Beat Bush' and cast a 'calculated vote' for John Kerry, the
elite candidate who is less apparently evil.
Such little difference between the two leading candidates
makes the 2004 presidential election an excellent opportunity for
populist third and fourth parties to increase their presence, and
for Punk Voter to exercise its might behind an independent, Green
Party, or libertarian candidate who offered a true policy alternative
to the Bush Administration's warmongering agenda.
Punk Voter issues
The Punk Voter platform is a little vague and has
no substantive position on the invasion of Iraq or the fancifully-named
War on Terrorism. Punk Voter's on-line platform falls back with familiar
political vocabulary about personal freedom, the environment, and
Under the "personal freedom" section,
Punk Voter concentrates on defending sexual freedom ("reproductive
freedom"). Punk Voter is totally opposed to banning condoms,
birth control drugs, and also does not want the business of aborting
fetuses to be restricted.
Unlike most progressive advocates who use the catch-all
catch phrase "social justice" to promote their income
redistribution and collective planning programs, Punk Voter promotes
the idea of "economic responsibility." Echoing the labor
union chant "Health care, not warfare" made famous at
anti-war protests in 2002-03, the Punk Voter platform asserts that
all this money being spent to blow up and liberate Iraq could be
better used to provide cheaper drugs and doctor visits for Americans.
* * * * *
With its plan to concentrate resources in certain
'swing states,' the strategy for Punk Voter mirrors that of the George
Coming Together program which also has as its principal aim
the expulsion of George Bush Jr. from the White House. Punk Voter
is aiming to register and mobilize over a half-million voters, and
enough votes to throw certain states' presidential elections against
Bush, thus handing the votes in the Electoral College to an opposing
The "Rock Against Bush" campaign recalls
the successful 1993 "Rock for Choice" pro-abortion alternative
rock tour that featured L7 and Pearl
Jam and, with heavy promotion by MTV and the Democratic Party,
helped buoy youth support for Bill Clinton. Look for a lot of touring
in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northwest, and in Texas. If Punk Voter
can turn the tide against our clown prince and his war-profiteering
cronies in Texas, a supposed Bush stronghold, there might be hope
yet that Bush can be defeated and some of his disastrous foreign
and domestic policies reversed.
article revised February 5 and October 10, 2004.
Original redaction -- December
Fat Wreck Chords' Fat Mike Burkett
first dreamt up the "Rock Against Bush"
idea two years ago.
Punk Voter: The Logo.
Former Nirvana bandmates David Grohl
and Chris Novoselic are both taking part
in the Punk Voter project. Novoselic plans
on running for state office in Washington in 2004.
The Punk Voter youth mobilization comes some
25 years after The Clash's
"Rock Against Racism" tours that shook late 1970s England
but whose political effectiveness is still in question.
ON CITIZINE --
with Descendents' Bill Stevenson
The veteran drummer of All, Black Flag, and the
Descendents talks about his producing work with
Fat Wreck Chords and the new Descendents EP.
By Mark Prindle
Stone Deaf Forever Box Set
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