art & politics

Yesterday I spent a couple hours with volunteers in MoveOn.org to call voters in areas with close congressional races and urge them to vote…preferably for the Democratic candidate. Pretty cool to go to a complete stranger’s home, meet other strangers, and then all of y’all (one of my favorite southernisms – all of y’all) call people across the country. When I asked one guy I called if he was following the race there, he said, “Me? Hell, no! I’m an artist. Art has nothin’ to do with politics!” I got off the phone and thought, ‘Well, that is one ignorant artist!’ Art and politics have been bedfellows ever since a monarch paid a jester to entertain or a poet to compose a paean to the state. Pure art? No such thing. And the artist who says s/he is not political has just uttered a political statement.

I can’t tell if I was discouraged or a bit more hopeful after my calling shift. Some people refused to say for whom they would vote; I respect that. But so many people were not voting, had stopped voting, weren’t interested. How does that happen in a democracy? How does one discard such an important right?

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