THERE'S PREACHING to the choir, and there's preaching to a lazy choir whose collective heart is in the right place, but flakes on anything beyond its personal periphery. Punk kids talk a lot of noise about making a difference, but sometimes they need a kick in the drawers; some impetus to overcome the inertia of being young, pissed off, and self-absorbed.
In big-league politics, angst means little in the face of action, and that's what web-based activist group Punk Voter is working towards--actualizing the kids with good ol' fashioned barnstorming.
But Punk Voter representative Toby Jeg says pushing kids to vote and pushing kids towards Kerry are two different things. "Punk Voter is a 527 and not allowed to endorse a Presidential candidate or advocate regime change. We're a voter education group that aims to make people aware of what the Bush Administration is up to."
Says Jeg, Punk Voter's job is making info available. "Most media outlets have been silenced and no one seems to be reporting on the underhanded policies of the current administration. There are countless examples where GOP-owned media has not reported on Bush's failures: the growing joblessness, healthcare, Iraq, etc. We're trying to shine a light on this administration and make people aware of the truth. Only when we are told all the facts can people make a decision on who should lead the country."
So far the campaign has birthed two comp CDs, a spring tour of swing states with founder Fat Mike's band NOFX, and a $50,000 advertising campaign detailing the differences between Bush and Kerry.
The rhetoric and tactics are vehemently anti-Bush, but Jeg says he doesn't think Bush himself knows what Punk Voter is up to, and even more so, what he's up against come November. He says Bush's people have "done everything in their power to shut down 527s like Punk Voter and Moveon.org, so somebody in the Bush camp is aware of us. If I had to venture a guess I would say that he doesn't have a fucking clue about us, or the majority of Americans that disapprove of him. His staff does a good job of buffering him from the people he is supposed to be presiding over."
Punk Voter's most recent move is this summer's Rock Against Bush tour, touching down at Roseland Theater this week with Anti-Flag, Strike Anywhere, Mike Park, Midtown, and the Epoxies.
At 3 pm on Friday there will be a press conference at the Clinton Street Theater with Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism director Robert Greenwald, members of Anti-Flag, and Jeff Smith, founder of the Oregon Bus Project, followed by a screening of Outfoxed at 11 pm and a discussion with former Fox employees.
Saturday kicks off with a meet and greet featuring the Oregon American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations at 5 pm at the AFL-CIO Oregon Portland Office (214 SE 18th). The bands on the bill will be there to talk with fans before the show later that night.
Jeg says the bands were all natural choices. "The Epoxies, Strike Anywhere, and Anti-Flag all contributed to the Rock Against Bush comps. Midtown has always championed animal rights and other leftist causes, and a quick perusal of even their first record's liner notes will make it clear as to why they're involved. And of course Mike Park has been very involved in Punk Voter since its inception and has even founded his own progressive foundation: Plea for Peace. We think we've assembled the dream team of political punk rockers."