As Election Day inches closer and closer, local artists have taken the initiative to help rock the vote with the Democratic Party’s “Get Out The Vote” concert at First Avenue this Sunday, November 2nd. With performances from Doomtree’s Sims, Heiruspecs, Toki Wright & Big Cats, Gabriel Douglas of The4onthefloor, Guante & Jeremy Messersmith; the show will be hosted by Congressman Keith Ellison in support for his re-election campaign.
While each artist has their own reason in taking part of this show, the overall call for civil engagement rings true throughout. One of those voices is MC/Activist/Educator Guante as he continues to challenge and promote involvement within the democratic process.
“Like a lot of people,” said Guante,“I have complex views of electoral politics and of the Democratic party. But when it comes down to it, I have no issues with encouraging people to take an active role in their democracy. Part of why I agreed to play this show was so I could use what platform I have to raise questions, to challenge people, and to remind myself and others that voting can be a powerful tactical tool in a broader push to create change. Voting by itself doesn’t change the world, but that fact doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t vote. We absolutely should. Voting can help create the conditions in which we can organize and push for bigger changes.”
Another group that is no stranger to these political based concerts is the legendary St. Paul group, Heiruspecs as they have taken part on a similar show hosted by the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in years past.
“Heiruspecs is always concerned about continuation of funding for the arts,” said Heiruspecs MC, Midway Felix. “Without the type of support that our schools and public institutions have given, we would have never met and started our band. The Minneapolis mayor is currently making news by proposing no additional arts funding next year. Personally, I’m making sure to vote for people in my city (St. Paul) who can think a little beyond the budget when it comes to the things that make our community great.”
With all of the rhetoric filled punditry and discrediting attack ads permeating the modern consciousness, many voters are choosing to not take part in this year’s elections due to the belief that their votes are discounted to the billions of dollars in campaign funding. While some have claim that this apathy, Guante identifies this as “disillusionment.”
“To me, ‘apathy’ implies not caring; I think people do care, and that’s often why they don’t vote. We feel betrayed. We feel like we’re buying into a system that doesn’t work for us. And those feelings are valid. But like I said, I think the key is looking at voting as one piece of a larger puzzle. It’s a tactic, not a strategy. If we want to create real change, it’s going to take on-the-ground organizing, educational campaigns, and much more– and having people in office who are not actively hostile to you can help make that work easier. Politicians don’t magically solve our problems; it is our job to put pressure on politicians, no matter what party they belong to. Tactically, it just makes sense to me to try to influence who those politicians are.”
In taking part in this concert, Midway Felix agrees that rejecting the polls is not the solution to the problems at hand.
“The only way to change what you don’t like is to get involved. This is especially critical for younger voters since there are issues being discussed right now which directly affect us. Policy around student loans is one of the things that a lot of my friends are tracking right now. For those who feel completely disillusioned with the process of voting because all candidates are boring, or look and sound the same, I’d encourage you to ignore the person, and vote on the issues instead. Chose the person who is going to tackle the issues that are important to you. Many candidates for local office are really taking a stand on one or two issues, and they’re likely to really fight for them.”
While pundits and politicians are constantly firing at one another over multiple distractions, voters continue to complain that staying informed on each candidate is becoming more challenging. For someone as actively engaged as Guante, he suggests that voters pay attention to the overall campaigns as well as their communities responses.
“I think the best approach is to take everything in– commercials, mainstream media, alternative media, conversing with people in real life, etc. and sift through it. Even when a particular piece of media is lying to you, it’s helpful to analyze how and why it’s doing that. So I read a lot, from a lot of different sources. I also use Twitter as intentionally as possible; I always hear people complain that people on Twitter are on some BS, but it’s like: you CHOOSE who to follow. Follow people who know what they’re talking about.”
Along with media literacy, Midway Felix encourages voters to venture to campaign rallies and meet each candidate.
“By actually attending the occasional event you can get a sense for who the person is beyond the ads. This doesn’t make you a liberal, or a conservative, or a nut job. It’s just ‘getting it from the horse’s mouth. You can meet the candidates, talk to their colleagues and learn more that way than a 30 second ad will ever teach you. It’s certainly most helpful to do this when it’s not an election season because officials won’t have talking points at the ready, but even now going and rubbing elbows is far better than relying on the news. Generally, these folks are busy, but genuinely interested in meeting people. I’ve been friends with my city council people, met more than one governor and mayor, and gotten a sense for what these people are about by just being there. As a matter of fact, I met Keith Ellison because he was just hanging out in a room as a show of support for someone else.”
Both Guante, Midway Felix and the rest of Heiruspecs can be found at the Get Out The Vote Concert at First Avenue this Sunday, November 2nd along with Sims, Toki Wright & Big Cats!, Gabriel Douglas of The4onthefloor, Jeremy Messersmith and Congressman Keith Ellison. And information on where and when to vote on Tuesday, November 4th Midterm Elections can be found here.