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Columns > Mike Gruenberg - In My Life

Published: 2008/04/24
by Mike Gruenberg

Strange Bedfellows: Music & Politics

In My Life
Dont know about you, but if I never see another Presidential candidates debate, it wont be soon enough. If you took all the money spent on these extraneous extravaganzas, apply that cash to more humanitarian pursuits, we could go a long way towards solving the financial crisis in this country. By hypothetically redirecting that money or at the very least limiting the spending on this part of the electoral process, we might finally have the impetus to start putting back on the road of fiscal stability.
Living in the Washington, D.C. area has given me an added perspective of the Republicans and Democrats. Their comings and goings are constantly analyzed and dissected by many different media. Endless sound bites on local and national television only makes me want to vote immediately so the candidates get on with their lives and we can get on with ours. Not only are we currently subjected to the debates, but as the Presidential election draws closer and the Democrats painfully decide who will run against Senator McCain, we will be bombarded with more TV and radio spots touting a candidate or trying to cast doubt on the credibility of an opponent. Perhaps the most absurd part of the process is the use of the endorsement by other than the usual array of politicians. I can understand that within political parties, the support of a candidate from his or hers party is expected. Similarly, spouses, relatives and children of candidates should certainly be called upon to help. After all, they have a vested interest to see their family member elected.
However, when celebrities from the entertainment industry are called upon to give an endorsement, one wonders what credentials a movie star or music person has in this area. Recently, Elton John hosted a fundraiser at Radio City Hall for Hillary Clinton. Apparently, the Clinton campaign was so significantly in debt that the rationale for this event was to raise money to help erase some of the debt. OK, I understand that we all need to be solvent, but just a week before this concert; the Clintons tax records were released. Those records revealed that Bill and Hill have earned $109 million over the last eight years. Its hard to believe that the Clinton Campaign would ask others to cover their debts after having earned that kind of income. Im certainly not one to advise others on how to spend or save their money, but if you come to the public asking for cash, the immediate question is, what happened to all the money you two earned over those last eight years? Why would you ask people to pay for a concert to cover the debts of a multi-millionaire family?
From all accounts, the concert at Radio City was supposed to raise $2 million which does not even come close to erasing the debts incurred by the Clinton campaign, Since Elton is such a great fan of Hillary, why didnt he just write a check for the goal amount, give a free concert and give a little something back to a populace that is struggling with rising gas prices, contending with onerous mortgages and trying to cope with a significant downturn in the U.S. economy.
This brings me back to the issue of the endorsement. Celebrities that entertain us in the movie theaters and concert halls have now become an integral part of our lives courtesy of tabloid journalism. We know the most intimate facts about them and seem to be endlessly fascinated by the latest revelations about their professional and personal lives. I wonder why we feel that a rock star has the standing to tell us how to vote for an elected official. I am a great fan of the Beatles, but quite frankly if Paul or Ringo endorsed a certain candidate, I would place little credence in their opinion of which politician I should vote for. Similarly, I have been a fan of Elton Johns music, but his hosting of a political event has no standing with me. Actually, the fact that he is a British citizen makes him even less credible as an endorser of an American candidate.
As in any election, the voters have the final voice and they are the ones who need to decide which candidate best represents their interests. No amount of concerts, free or otherwise, should overly influence the public on whom to vote for. No matter how glamorous the celebrity, a vote should only be influenced by the stated goals and beliefs of the candidate. We live in a society that is facing significant problems. Our country has faced problems before and we have always been able to overcome those difficulties and be better off as a result of figuring out how to survive and grow. One of the great gifts of our country is the right to vote. No matter which candidate you prefer, you have a right to make a choice. That ability to choose is unfortunately not shared in many countries of the world. Influence aside, a vote is made in private and is each American citizens right and responsibility.
Therefore, enjoy your favorite music, may the candidate of your choice be successful in November and with apologies to Rudyard Kipling never the twain shall meet.

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