JB: You wrote an in-your-face song called Democrats are Stupid if They Don't Vote, Republicans are Stupid if They Do [YouTube version]. It's almost Election Day so it's timely to talk about it. What provoked you to write this song?
TE: All of the following things provoked me, to write this song, although I prefer "inspired":
I have a knack with lyrics and melodies and I love to sing, and life has taught me that I can get my objectives accomplished more effectively in my activist work when I am doing things I just love to do, so I wanted to do all I can do to get out the vote in this election on Tuesday. I am appalled at how less than 40% of registered voters vote, and I wanted to urge Democrats to vote in the most entertaining way I could think of. I know that Republicans are doing everything they can to keep people they fear are demographically likely to vote Democratic and Progressive from voting. We need, of course, to work against all of those moves by the right wing, and to go to those states where it's being done - those of us who can - and help people to get the IDs people need and otherwise thwart that Republicans tactic.
We need to remember, however, that there is also this vast pool of voters who are basically on the liberal side of the political spectrum who just don't vote. That's why I start out the song with the cynical memes that often keep people from voting, and then kick into the chorus to make it catchy. I work with Protect California Ballots. It's a group of us citizens who are doing all we can to keep electronic voting machines out of California. We already have ES&S counting our votes. We need to get rid of that too, of course. We have a bill here in California, signed, to his shame, by our Democratic Governor, Jerry Brown, that gives all the power of what our state voting system will be to one person, the Lt.Governor. All the electronic voting machine companies need to do is pressure or pay him or her off, and our votes are completely hackable. I touch on this issue in the song, but my objective is that people will hear the lyric and look into it more, and work to establish non-hackable vote-register devices and hand counted paper ballots.
I think Cantor's defeat in Virginia this Spring was just an exhillarating thing! We The People really do have a great amount of power we don't use as a rule. I want us to start using it.
JB: I was appalled by Gov. Brown's inexplicable acquiescence and, in general, by the grip that electronic voting has on all of us, across the country. The very recent Supreme Court decision reaffirming Texas Voter ID will effectively disenfranchise 600,000 legal voters in that state. Not to mention Republican efforts nationwide to suppress the vote; literally millions of voters nationwide could be affected. Maneuvers like that are enough to turn off the average citizen. Through your own long history of activism, you understand the various and onerous challenges our elections face. Yet you haven't given up on the system. Why not?
TE: For the same reason I don't give up on myself when I seem hopeless. The idea of America, the fact of it being the first country on Earth ever to be established with no "king". This alone makes me proud of what America's potential still holds. I mean, in Athens, they had a democracy but Pericles was still the king. I deliberately see past the fact of how we keep compulsively giving these uninspired men all this power. I try to keep the perspective that this "king" thing has a millennium of momentum behind it. We're clearly not as evolved as our founders imagined themselves to be, but the president does have legal limits upon him, and we can establish them if we have the political will.