If you've gone this long without being driven at least temporarily mad, getting into arguments with friends, or simply withering beneath the protracted election coverage, congratulations! The combination of the personalities in play and the ubiquity of social media has made this election cycle a particularly... memorable one.
With the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump having taken place on Sept. 26, we're in something like the home stretch. Given that everyone is talking about it, and given the frequent forays of musicians into politics, I asked a few local artists for their thoughts on the debate, as well as the general political climate.
Local emcee Kevin Mitchell — who will open for A Tribe Called Red with his group Company 8 at the Black Sheep on Oct. 8 — reacted to the debate with a sense of disbelief.
"I'm really at a loss on how Donald Trump became a major party candidate for the office," says Mitchell. "I couldn't help but wonder the entire time, 'how did we get here?'"
There's been debate on whether Trump's tactics could be considered populist — or appealing to fascism — and Mitchell believes any faith bestowed upon Trump by his constituency would be misguided.
"This dude is a wolf who convinced a flock of sheep that he is no danger to them. Unfortunately, by the time the sheep realize he's just an ordinary wolf, most of the flock have been devoured."
Timmy Vilgiate, who fronts the band Timmy and the Vigilantes, as well as acting as one of the curators of the Redheaded Zombie Show blog and music showcase series, actually attended the local Trump rally earlier this year, the day the candidate was infamously trapped inside an elevator. Vilgiate notes that he was interested in giving all candidates a fair shot, even as he acknowledges he's been veering from his previous self-proclaimed "Tea Party Republicanism."
"Trump is little more than a bully," he says. "All veneer of benign intention or libertarian impulse has been forsaken by the Republican Party of Trump in favor of a low-brow, hyper-nationalistic fascist."
Vilgiate was initially considering voting for a third-party candidate, but warmed to Clinton during the debate, despite his feeling that she missed opportunities to address many issues and stayed a bit close to rehearsed talking points.
"I would rather have four years of mediocre establishment politics," he says, "than four years of mediocre fascism."
Experimental musician Brian Elyo, who plays under the name mobdividual and recently performed an ambient guitar set accompanying excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speeches, is similarly unimpressed.
"I couldn't imagine sitting across a conference table from that guy attempting to do business; never mind actually working for him," says Elyo.
"The thought of his smug, rude, greedy, legal-enough-to-not-be-illegal grinning portrait hanging in classrooms across the country as our 45th president? Those are wonderful ideals to encourage."
Meanwhile, C.J. Hackett — the lead singer and guitarist for indie-rock band A Bad Night for a Hero — admits that he's not particularly thrilled with either candidate, but this election has re-emphasized the importance of exercising one's right to vote.
"It's easy to become frustrated with candidates when they go with the neutral responses or refuse to dig deeper on issues that personally affect you," says Hackett. "It's hard to find which candidate suits your beliefs and will defend them after they've got your vote."
The answer, he says, is to trust in yourself — not just when it comes to presidential politics, but at all levels of government.
"No matter who wins, it's not up to them to make our lives better," he says, while also citing the importance of local politics. "Your vote is far too important to be swayed by who can sling the best insults, or who's better at diverting attention from their mistakes. And that's why we need to vote, not just for our president, but for what we believe in."
One final note: Local musicians who are Trump supporters, or still on the fence, are welcome to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll include comments in next week's column.
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