Michael Franti on Midterm Elections: 'I'm Voting Because… I'm Worried'


Billboard asks artists why they're planning to vote on Nov. 6.

In the lead-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Billboard reached out to artists throughout the musical spectrum with a easy request: Complete the phrase "I'm voting as a result of..." Below is Spearhead chief Michael Franti's response, which touches on the world he desires his toddler son to inherit and the democracy his father informed him it was his accountability to uphold. (As informed to Gil Kaufman.)

The very first thing that got here to my thoughts is: as a result of I give a shit. I care about what’s occurring in our nation proper now and the impact it's having on the world and on my Four-week-old child, who's in my arms proper now. I’m apprehensive. There was a time once I was in [1980s band] The Beatnigs, which was a very political punk rock band, and we did a tour of Europe. I got here again from our 1988 tour and my dad learn this text with me speaking about some political subject and me criticizing the U.S. authorities and the president.

"You know what occurred while you have been over there? We had an election and also you didn’t vote," [he said]. He gave me an outdated framed image of the primary black vote. "Do you understand how many individuals died and fought for the chance so that you can vote? There you're criticizing what’s happening, and also you didn't present up!" That caught with me ever since. I've empathy and I will sit there and lament and bemoan all the things that’s occurring with the state of our nation proper now. But as quickly as you inform me you didn’t vote within the final election, I tune you out.

Voting takes 15 minutes. Daily I sit on my rest room and have a look at Instagram for 15 minutes; definitely I can get off my fucking ass and vote. If folks undergo all of the random issues -- standing in line at a espresso store to get a mocaccino latte -- so many random issues we do and we're solely requested as soon as each two years to go and present up for this expertise. As I've grown older and see what number of elections are teetering -- this final election, Trump barely squeaked by and gained -- in these counties the place he squeaked by... this entire factor with [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh wouldn't have occurred.

A girl’s proper to decide on, voting rights in our lifetime will change fully based mostly on the outcomes of this election, the setting may very well be eroded. These issues matter they usually add up. ... I discuss it each night time we’re on tour. I all the time finish our reveals by encouraging folks to vote. We have Headcount at a number of our reveals to do voter registration. It's wonderful once I sit down and speak to people who find themselves tremendous involved about what’s happening and the way few of them vote and the way discouraged they really feel.

We must take again that energy. A week and a half in the past we performed in Parkland [Florida] to commemorate the assault at that college at a competition the college students placed on. We met with these college students there who have been on hearth, they really feel it deeply and there was one girl who was a trainer who taught social research ... she misplaced two kids in her class and he or she mentioned per week earlier than the taking pictures, they have been finding out the Holocaust. She had a survivor come and communicate to the children. This survivor mentioned from each nice ache comes nice vitality and no ache ought to ever be wasted. That’s my response to folks: If you're feeling ache proper now due to what’s happening in our nation, don't waste your ache; go and vote. 

I used to be additionally actually moved by [the endorsement put up from] Taylor Swift. I used to be in tears. She began off from the most apolitical house, however she's additionally been an advocate for the rights of artists, copyright legal guidelines and he or she's proven up massive time. I've acquired mad respect for her. Hopefully she’ll be an instance for different artists coming from an analogous lineage as a result of it's potential to be Taylor Swift and not find yourself being the Dixie Chicks.