How well do liberalism and Country Music mix? Here are my observations...I'll let you decide...
At the recent Kennedy Center Point of Lights Tribute
event honoring George H.W. Bush for his efforts in promoting volunteerism, a CNSNews.com reporter asked Grammy Award-winning country artist Garth Brooks, if President Obama was living up to his expectations. Brooks responded by saying "I love him to death and I fully support him and I just wish him well because it's got to be hell in that office" (okay...I can see how all those rounds of golf, appearances on TV talk shows, and multiple vacations per year would be "hell," but someone has to do it, right?).
[youtube fZfp_4vnovo Garth Brooks]
When Grammy Award-winning superstar Carrie Underwood was asked the same question, she replied, "See, now you're getting into like politicky kind of stuff...I'm here for the service aspect and to honor great people and the service that they've done and I kind of stay out of the rest of it."
[youtube KshCYw6QXsQ Carrie Underwood]
One artist is clear about his position and the other would rather not get into any kind of political discussion. So who's right? Does it really matter?
Yes and no.
I took an oath at the beginning of my military career to protect and defend our Constitution to ensure we retain our guaranteed liberties, including our First Amendment right to free speech. I don't condemn anyone for exercising that right one bit. So, in that regard, what they say is completely within their right to do so. I thank God we have those rights because I have absolutely no intention of keeping silent about what is happening in our great country, through my music or otherwise.
However, as a parent who wants my children to look up to those who share my conservative values, a public figure's philosophy on certain things like social issues and politics does affect my decisions as to whom I will support through the purchase of their music or books or watching their movies, etc. When I hear a celebrity publicly touting his or her leftist ideology, he or she tends to become persona non grata to me and I usually tune that person out, permanently.
The fact that "country music" and "conservative" are largely viewed as being synonymous, since country music fans tend to be primarily Christian and/or conservative, doesn't sit well with liberal country artists as well as some of Nashville's record company CEOs who vote Democrat. So disenfranchised were they about this, they decided to do something about it and founded an organization called "Music Row Democrats" back in 2003 and re-energized their efforts in 2008 with the intent of "taking country music back" (did they ever have it to begin with?). The problem is we've seen how conservative country fans have reacted to Garth Brooks' recent statement, and we also saw how well "coming out" worked for Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, who told an overseas audience in 2003 she was ashamed to be from the same state as George W. Bush. There was such a backlash to that one statement that, to this day, many country stations still refuse to play their music.
[youtube Ntqg4AlDZfg nolink]
President Bush responded to the controversy by saying the following:
The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say...they shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out...Freedom is a two-way street...I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq.
I agree. I believe they had every right to voice their opinion. The aftermath may have some thinking it was not the wisest move on their part knowing their fans were largely in support of President Bush as well as our troops. Makes me wonder...they claimed their objection was violence and our involvement in Iraq where they felt there was no real threat to our country. Will they now be protesting President Obama's recent decisions regarding "Lib-ya" or will they be penning a pro-war tune in support of our "Kinetic Military Action" for "humanitarian reasons"?
So, out of curiosity to learn more about this organization, Music Row Democrats, I scoured the internet for quite a while and found nothing current
on that organization (or really ANY articles/blogs about liberal country artists after
2008, for that matter). If you check out their site www.musicrowdemocrats.com
you'll only find a blog about Democrats and poker and their MySpace
page is pretty sad as well (created on 7/25/2006...last login was 11/6/2006). The number of plays on the two songs in their music player is rather embarrassing.
In one article I found about Music Row Democrats (MRD) entitled "Call it Americana
," the writer, Kathy Coleman states:
Country music was the music of the simple people, those patriotic souls who would never dream of criticizing their government. But that sentiment itself is so noteworthily anti-patriotic (emphasis added) it's not surprising someone (MRD) would eventually stand up and say so. It is not only patriotic, the ability to criticize the government when one believes them to be wrong is the basic cornerstone of this country.
Oh, really now? I thought it was "raaaacist" to do so. Coleman concludes by saying:
I cry when I see Americans practically throwing away their civil liberties every time the Bush administration cries "Terrorist!" and claim they "keep us safe," or that the war in Iraq has anything at all to do with OUR freedom. I've come to hate this administration if only because they've made me ashamed of my country, they've stripped my pride and made me feel guilty for my flag-waving ways. But the music of the MRD has given me back some of that pride, some of that honest love of country I had once. It's heartening to know it's not all gone. That's Americana. That's my country.
Wonder how she feels right about now.
So, where are the Music Row Democrats today? It begs the question: Do they share Garth's sentiment about this President and "love him to death" or have they changed their tune about his brand of "Hope and Change"...or perhaps they've decided to just "shut up and sing"? I noted that at this past weekend's Academy of Country Music Awards
, there were no reported incidents of award presenters or recipients making any controversial political statements. Are they keeping tight lipped now or are they finally waking up and seeing what we conservatives are seeing happening to this country?
Again...not really sure.
It would appear though that, just as Hollywood actors are reluctant to "come out of the conservative closet" out of fear of losing their jobs, so too are many liberal country artists afraid to speak up out of fear of losing their fans. And perhaps with good reason...
Our country has never been more divided, at least not in my lifetime. People are choosing sides including many businesses and corporations
(e.g. Target vs. Walmart, Coca Cola vs Pepsi, Craigslist vs eBay, etc.) and so too, are those in the entertainment industry. Given the current political climate, conservative artists should be encouraged by polls
that show the majority of Americans consider themselves either conservative or moderate with only about 20% admitting they are liberal. Non-fiction books by conservative talk show hosts, television personalities, political pundits, and former DC insiders are topping the New York Times Best-Seller list and Fox News is crushing all the other networks in the ratings war and as we've seen in recent months, "mainstream media" cable news anchors are getting the axe. Is it because their ratings are plummeting? That would be my guess.
Conservatives are fed up with the dismantling of our great country by those who are clearly in the minority. We just want to leave our kids and grandkids with a country they too can be proud of, so if we tend to favor all-things-conservative, it should come as no surprise.
It's a country thing.
I'm all for artists being vocal about their views. I'd be a hypocrite if I said otherwise. It's one of the many things that makes this country exceptional and why so many risk their lives to escape the tyranny in their own countries to come here to pursue "The American Dream." Having said that...the left has had such a tight hold on so much of our pop culture over the past few decades, that it's just a wee bit gratifying to me to see that Country music was never in any danger of being hijacked by organizations like the apparently now-defunct Music Row Democrats.
As for the other genres, we're working on it...via an organization that, in many ways, is the antithesis of Music Row Democrats -- BigDawg Music Mafia
-- an online community of grassroots artists who just happen to be conservatives, many of whom are using their craft to spread the message of freedom. We already have several genres represented including Country, Classic Rock, Hip Hop, Metal, Alternative, Blues, Acoustic, Folk, Classical, and even Celtic...and we are growing at an impressive pace with over 250,000 site hits since launching the site eight months ago. We don't hide the fact that we are conservatives; we're damn proud of it.
I strongly encourage ALL artists to speak up -- even our friends on the left -- it helps the fans know where you stand. Really! And to our fellow conservative culture warriors, BigDawg and I salute you all. Keep up the good fight, raise your voices, and sing out loud and proud.