10 Rockers Who Should Be President
With Election Day just one day away, the 2012 presidential race is too close to call. We know for sure the winner is going to come from one of the two major parties, but that doesn’t mean you can only vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate. With all due respect to Obama and Romney, we thought it would be fun to consider 10 of our favorite indie and alt-rock figures — some politically active, some not at all – for the position. Take a look over our picks and let us know which of the following you would most like to see in the White House.
As frontman of post-punk legends Fugazi and a figurehead in the punk and independent rock communities, MacKaye is known for his fiercely loyal DIY ethos, and he’s even credited with coining the term “straight edge.” Although not known to be an active political figure, his commitment to social issues makes him an interesting choice for a presidential candidate. So does his own method for selecting which presidential candidate to vote for: “My rule of thumb in terms for voting is voting for the person who is electable and is least likely to engage in war,” he has said. “And that is it.”
Krist Novoselic is, of course, best known for his days holding down the low-end for Nirvana, but in the years since, his focus has been aimed more at social issues and politics than rock n' roll. As an elected State Committeeman in Washington, he's advocated for electoral reform (especially instant-runoff voting and proportional representation), written a book about government ('Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy’) and even briefly flirted with running for lieutenant governor of Washington.
Former frontwoman of Bikini Kill — one of the definitive bands of the riot grrrl movement — and later Julie Ruin and Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna is obviously a stanch feminist. While her overall approach to the office would be hard to gauge, abortion and other women’s rights issues would no doubt be priorities. As an added bonus, how cool would it be to have Hanna's husband, Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys, as our nation's first-ever First Man?
Former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus isn't known as a political artist, but given his natural charisma and skill as an orator, he could probably pull off a respectable campaign nonetheless. The groundswell of support from loyal Pavement fans could help him get through the primaries, and we would love to see some well-seasoned politico face-off against him and his 10-dollar words in a town hall debate.
Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio
Following the 2008 election, TV On the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe was pessimistic about President Obama's prospects, so don't think he'd hold much hope for his own White House tenure. “[Obama] inherited such a broken system and has a couple of years to reverse what's tantamount to centuries of f—-ups,” he has said. “Everybody was like, “He's gonna turn it around!” But he'd need a time machine to turn it around.”
Here's somebody with some real campaigning experience. Following his years fronting punk legends the Dead Kennedys, singer Jello Biafra pursued a career not only as a spoken-word artist, but also a politician of sorts. He actually did run for president in 2000 as a member of the Green Party, coming in second to none other than the outspoken third-party candidate Ralph Nader.
Neko Case is known more for her prized pipes than for her political viewpoints, but her lyrics — and even more so her killer tweets — offer something else prized in the indie rock world: no-holds-barred, brutal honesty. Whether she's singing with Canadian indie supergroup the New Pornographers, going it alone on a Neko Case solo performance or perhaps joining the campaign trail, that sort of honesty will get her far.
As a member of Citizens Arrest, Chisel, the Sin-Eaters, the Spinanes and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Ted Leo has performed various types of music with numerous different bands. That eclecticism will no doubt translate into support from a variety of different corners of the indie community come Election Day, as Leo's all-around nice-guy persona — not to mention his penchant for singing awesomely anthemic, non-preachy songs about social justice issues — is sure to garner him more than a few votes. If anybody can go out there and prove good guys don't always finish last, it’s Ted.
Love him or loath him, the polarizing Henry Rollins is a larger-than-life character with a long history in both the punk and indie communities. Rollins made his name as frontman of Black Flag in the '80s, then later went on to front the eponymous Rollins Band and hit the spoken-word circuit hard. Through it all, he’s remained an outspoken activist for human rights — gay rights in particular. He's even done numerous tours with the United Service Organizations to entertain troops overseas, despite being staunchly against war.
Billy Corgan certainly has the ego needed to run for the highest office in the land, but are the Smashing Pumpkins frontman's political viewpoints too out there? During a visit to Austin for this year’s SXSW, he went on the air with noted conspiracy-theorizing talk show host Alex Jones. At one point, he described the Obama administration as going “out of their way to stifle dissent,” later adding that the “ruling force ultimately wants the least amount of trouble … to keep people opiated, stupid, uninformed.” A little too paranoid to hold power, or just the breath of fresh air we need?