Clip: Bruce Springsteen on Vote for Change
- For more on the shows Springsteen mentions, see
Chords for Change
By BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
Published: August 5, 2004
A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and
political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what
it means to be American: about the distinctive identity and position we
have in the world, and how that position is best carried. I've tried to
write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures.
These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we
stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always
stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan
about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign
policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year,
however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election
Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that
the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and
faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult
to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during
difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the
fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp
yet forever out of reach?
I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do
believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and
working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an
administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness,
humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith.
People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in
different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I
have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join
with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam,
R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in
touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella
of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction
of the government and change the current administration come November.
Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I
don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter
Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth
strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong
into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and
women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits,
while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool
programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs,
well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that
threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute
the promise of "one nation indivisible."
It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities -
respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we
come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as
individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from
American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our
hearts is waiting.
Bruce Springsteen is a writer and performer.