Musings —02.09.2015 09:52 PM—
When Barack Obama’s Democratic Party loses the support of the likes of Anti-Flag, they’re probably in big trouble.
Consider that, in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama and his Democrats won power because they captured previously elusive constituencies: Hispanics, African-Americans, and so on. But Obama won both of his mandates because he was the overwhelming choice of young people, most of whom don’t usually vote.
In 2008, Obama received the support of nearly 70% of those who were 18 to 29 years of age. In 2012, Obama’s under-30 support slipped somewhat, but he was still the clear favourite of America’s youth. In both years, young Americans put Obama in the White House.
So what happens in 2016 then, when that demographic starts to drift away from the Democratic Party?
Chris Barker – otherwise known as Chris Two in the legendary Pittsburgh punk band Anti-Flag – is arguably one of the most political guys, in one of the most political bands in the world. His band has put together 10 albums over a nearly 20-year career, and has composed multiple anthems against war, imperialism, capitalism – and has rallied support for Occupy Wall Street, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. In 2008, for instance, they played outside the Republican National Convention – until the police pulled the plug, and shut them down.
A few weeks later, Chris Two attended the inauguration of the aforementioned Barack Obama, hopeful that it would represent a change in American politics. To Chris, it didn’t.
“While the election of Barack Obama was received by world-wide sigh of relief, and a belief that we had aimed ourselves towards a better direction for America and the rest of the world…it didn’t,” Chris says. “I went to the inauguration and I felt moved, and I felt there was hope, in that first month. I bought in. I since then feel as if it’s been politics as usual – with almost more secrecy.
“And that’s actually made us more afraid of the Democrats than the Republicans. The Republicans had no [desire] to hide what they were doing. They just did it. But now, with Obama’s administration, you see far more happening behind closed doors. And that, to me, has been the most concerning thing of the two terms of Barack Obama.” And, when you consider the sad tales of the NSA’s domestic spying program, as well as the demonization of whistleblowers, you know he’s right.
Chris – who plays bass and sings in Anti-Flag, along with singer/guitarist Justin Sane, guitarist Chris Head, and drummer Pat Thetic – is careful when he speaks. While his band is well known for wild, fist-pumping shows – which this writer has, full disclosure, attended many times – Chris Two sounds as knowledgeable as a regular CNN talking head. More so, in fact.
“On some level, it feels like we are moving backwards – to the election of a Jeb Bush, for example,” Chris says over the phone line, during a stop on the band’s current tour across North America. “That’s tough for me to say. But the finger on the pulse of the youth vote that I have comes from the people who come to our shows. And those people feel as I do, and that we need to stop this endless cycle that we’re on.”
There’s a feeling of hopelessness that is again pervasive among young voters, Chris says – a feeling that they cannot influence who will be their next “president or prime minister.” Or, when they try to do so, the new boss will be just as bad as the old boss.
“The biggest threat, however, is throwing our hands up and removing ourselves from the democratic process,” Chris concludes. “Because, you know, it’s not going to stop. If you don’t speak, someone is going to speak instead.
“If you’re not accounted for, that matters.”