Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Punk goes political to ‘educate’ young voters (and bash Bush)

Though it has yet to even take place, the 2004 presidential election surely will go down in history as one of the most heated battles in American political history. The impassioned nature and increased prominence of the campaign have occurred not only as a result of raised awareness and participation, but also due to newly formed avenues of activism. One such path has been taken by Punk Voter, an organization that is using a concert as a forum to mobilize voters.

“This guy really is the worst president ever,” said Toby Jeg, an organizer for Punk Voter’s “Rock Against Bush” tour. “The anti-American sentiment has never been higher and we want to redeem the reputation of America.”

The tour, which hits The Metro, 3730 N. Clark, on Tuesday, will travel across the country with extra dates in swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The concerts, featuring Anti-Flag, Tom Morello and Midtown, will be accompanied by a massive voter registration effort.

“It’s rare that our music gets together with a cause that we can be a part of,” Midtown guitarist Tyler Rann said. “It’s exciting for young people to have something to rally behind.”

Rallying against a specific individual is an unprecedented step for the band.

“We’ve never agreed on politics before,” Rann said. “But to be deceived and lied to by the president is just rude and disrespectful.”

While election year might seem like the most opportune time to criticize the president, this is not the first edition of the “Rock Against Bush” tour. Punk Voter has been sponsoring similarly named tours since the 2000 election.

The organization also recently put together two “Rock Against Bush” compilation CDs, which have combined to sell more than 500,000 copies, according to Jeg. The revenue from the CDs has been used to fund Punk Voter’s ad campaign, highlighted by an advertisement in “Rolling Stone” that contrasted George Bush and John Kerry on the issues.

“We’re trying to raise awareness,” Jeg said. “But we’re not a pro-Kerry group.”

Rather, Punk Voter is classified as a 527 group, which cannot officially endorse or work with a particular candidate. Punk Voter is considered a voter education group, along with groups such as and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

In addition to raising awareness about the upcoming election, Punk Voter and its constituent bands also have been involved with other causes.

Anti-Flag created the Underground Action Alliance about two years ago after running into frustrated fans who did not know where to channel their energy. Drummer Pat Thetic broadly described the process of attracting and mobilizing fans, specifically in the case of the stereotypical misfit or screw-up.

“(Let’s say) you’re a fuck-up, just like us,” he said. “Here are the resources we’ve gathered, so let’s bring our resources together and create something better.”

The alliance still is in its infancy, so Thetic remains realistic about the group achieving its broad goals.

“Of course it’s idealistic, and I realize that (achieving goals) is not an everyday occurrence,” he said.

According to Thetic the alliance focuses mainly on issues relating to civil rights and will run an October program to address the freedom of expression within the confines of schools.

As it relates to that freedom, Thetic is open to viewpoints from all sides, including the opposition.

“You’re not doing your job talking about the issues unless there is opposition,” Thetic said. “I do expect differing opinions and I welcome opposing viewpoints.”

“Just because you don’t believe in everything we say, that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the discussion,” Thetic added.

Rann understands that what his band says can influence those listening, but does so with caution.

“People get so easily swayed by the media and celebrities,” Rann said. “People should be intelligent enough not to follow them.”

Rann does think, however, that as an artist he should play a role in spreading information and increasing awareness.

“It is our place to guide someone to finding the correct answer,” Rann said.

With the election quickly approaching and the tour in its second week, apprehension has begun to settle in the artists’ minds.

“There’s definitely a sense of urgency,” Thetic said.”We’ve got less than 60 days to get this guy out of office.”

But despite the immediacy of the election, Thetic and Anti-Flag are not putting all their eggs in one basket.

“I don’t think that (the election) is where the job ends,” Thetic said. “It’s just the beginning of the battle.”

Weinberg junior Sam Weiner is the PLAY music editor. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Punk goes political to ‘educate’ young voters (and bash Bush)