So let’s switch things up a bit.
Here in the States, outside of the hurricane this and the World Series that, we’re actually on the brink of a presidential election. Next Tuesday, November 6th, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are going head-to-head to see who’ll be the leader of the free world for the next four years.
Politics are far and away on most of your minds, I’m sure. But I think we can all take a breather from crispy baseball caps and sneaker releases to concentrate on something that really matters. Over the remainder of the week, I’ll be posting three rounds of a Q & A regarding the upcoming U.S. presidential race, featuring five notable personalities in, of, and around the Streetwear and Street Culture community. This roundtable will touch on pertinent questions on my mind, that I believe affect everyone’s lives, whether you choose to partake in them or not. I know the material may bore many of you, and if so, I won’t be offended if you tune out for a couple days (I expect you back here bright and early Monday morning however). But for the rest of you, perhaps this will ignite the spark to be more aware, involved, and self-educated on not just American issues, global concerns, human concerns.
To help me in this endeavor, I’ve enlisted the ranks of five dudes whose opinion I much respect and admire. These are all individuals who are our friends and of our world, and have built the reputation for being outspoken, standing up for their beliefs, and encouraging youth to participate in world affairs.
First up is Alyasha Owerka-Moore of New York and San Diego, legendary Streetwear designer, tastemaker, and subcultural forerunner.
We also have Donny Damron, co-owner of Pharmacy Boardshop, with 6 locations around Southern California and Nevada; the skate/street boutique is also a longtime authorized The Hundreds stockist.
The world-renowned Mear One is one of the progenitors and flagbearers of the modern graffiti-art movement, heralded as much for his visual art as it’s strong political undertones.
Michael Brown owns the famous True street boutique in San Francisco, as well as True Sole next door, and True East in Walnut Creek. He was one of our first accounts, and still remains one of our coolest. Mike’s also the son of former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.
Last but not least is Graham Nystrom of Us Versus Them. Aside from being a prolific artist and designer, he’s also incredibly astute, one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people in our industry. And just an all-around awesome dude.
1. Who are you voting for and why?
Alyasha: President Obama. Honestly, he’s the best statesman we’ve had in years. Despite his few shortcomings, I believe he’s the right man for the job. Romney LIES CONTINUOUSLY and has no real stance on anything except wanting to be president of the United States.
Donny: Gary Johnson. He is the candidate that is truly for limited government . If you pick from the lesser of two evils, you are choosing evil.
Mear One: I was going to vote for someone like Ron Paul, but he wasn’t on the ballot. So I voted for Barack Obama, because he was the least problem on there and most likely to get elected. I’m not happy with the lack of choice. He’s definitely the lesser of two evils. And I mean, we have the Independent party and Green party… After years of voting and being a voter, I’ve just seen that the Green party and the Independent party are not in the position right now to deliver us a President, still. And so I’m stuck with two choices basically, and it’s BS and it sucks. I’m not happy with it. But there’s no way in hell that I would want Romney over Obama, even though they’re both a couple of puppets.
Mike: I’m voting for Obama because his ideals and the Democrats’ ideals are closer to my own than Romney’s and the Republicans. I don’t 100% agree with everything either candidate is proposing, but I do believe the Republicans are about consolidating wealth and power in the hands of the few. I am against that.
2. Does any of this really matter in the long run? Does the President of the United States actually affect any change for our lives, or is he just a puppet?
Alyasha: EVERYTHING MATTERS in the long run. The president absolutely has the ability to create change for our lives. Just ask the Wounded Warriors / Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. I understand the power of corporate lobbyists on our government, but by no means is president Obama a “puppet.” GW Bush was a complete puppet for the Trilateral commission and Romney is presently a puppet for the American corporate power structure.
Donny: He does affect change but still a puppet to the banking cartel, CFR, and big money funding decisions made in Washington. Not all parties and people agree with everything and most people in public office are out for there own best interest and the people and business’ surrounding them.
Mear One: Well, I imagine that Barack Obama will allow women to continue to have abortions, where Mitt Romney would probably make that a problem… And so there are a variety of issues that are subject to change depending on who gets elected. At the end of the day though, the bigger picture – like who we’re going to bomb, who we’re getting our oil from, and what countries are our allies – I don’t think that’s going to change depending on who’s elected. America has specific goals that it just doesn’t matter who the President is. These goals are being addressed, and these fall in the lap of whoever is our President.
Mike: It does matter in the long run because the President is one of the three main branches of our government, the Executive branch. Through the Bush and Obama presidencies, the powers of the Executive branch have been greatly expanded. While the President needs the cooperation of the Legislative branch, he or she can affect change (mostly over a longer period of time) in our lives. The President is the main representative of his or her political party. ”Puppet” is a strong word, but yes the President can be considered a tool his or her political party or main supporters.
Graham: It does and it doesn’t. To say that it doesn’t matter completely eliminates any level of influence which any one president DOES actually possess. The people he decides to put into office and surround him or herself with will influence the policies that are enacted during their term and beyond. So, yes, it does matter. However, given that our choices are solely Republican or Democrat, does it matter?
Sure, they may have differences concerning things like whether rape pregnancies are a gift from god, or if people should be allowed to be paid to work less (at the expense of the truly incapable), but when it comes down to the deep, deep financial and world issues that will ultimately affect your lives more, there is NO difference between the two.
3. So a big trend with today’s youth, and maybe rightfully so, is to refrain from politics entirely. Maybe jaded by the Internet coverage, the lying on both sides, or just the lack of obvious change or effect in their personal lives, many proactively choose to not only stay away from voting or educating themselves, but to voice an opinion against it. Bertolt Brecht once said, “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate” because “from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations.” Would you agree with Brecht or do you empathize with the non-voter?
Alyasha: Unfortunately, we live in a very media-centric and ambivalent society today. Youth are largely too worried about what to buy and how to impress people they have never seen or met. The last thing these kids care about is politics, because Politics is not “Fun” and does not get you Likes on your Facebook or Instagram or more followers on your Twitter, unless of course you are a politician. I would not say youth are “Jaded” but more ambivalent due to the fact that they do not see the importance of politics, or how it affects their self-absorbed, self-entitled lives. We live in a completely “Brave New World’ society right now. Consume to be accepted and don’t worry about politics or the powers that be. Happy to be sheep. Don’t live healthy, but look good. <Sarcasm.
Yes, I agree with Brecht wholeheartedly and this is exactly what would happen if Romney became president. So no, I do not empathize with the non voter.
Donny: I think any vote that is an uneducated vote is a bad vote and playing into the two party system that is controlled by a small group of people. Thomas Jefferson said “The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” Major media is a monopoly that six corporations control 90% of. I would say over 99% of people are politically illiterate because they get their info that is skewed by major media. I am not saying it’s all lies but it is a lot easier to mislead someone with facts than it is with bullshit. That’s why people like Rush make so much money.
I would have to say I agree with Brecht.
Mear One: Yeah, I do agree with him. I think that the non-voter doesn’t realize that half this world doesn’t have the ability to vote for their own presidents and for their own laws. It’s the apathy that comes along with not voting that has put us in this position. We want to hold onto our right to vote because if we can make change, then we will still have these rights. If we give up all of our rights, we’ll never be able to make any change because we’ll just go further down a corporate slide into slavery.
Mike: I empathize with the non-voter because I understand and share their frustration, but nothing will change without all of our participation. I have been around politics all my life, successful politicians focus on getting elected or re-elected, which means if you don’t bother to vote you aren’t as important to them as someone who does vote. Our country is run by majority rule, the majority of those who bother to vote get their way. If everybody who was eligible to do so voted, this would be a much different country. Much different. I 100% agree with Brecht.
Graham: Apathy is shit.
I get why it’s a common reaction though. A person can only beat your head against the wall so many times before you decide, “Well, I’m not going to break this wall down,”when they really should be looking for a better tool to use.
The world is filled with people who have good intentions and good ideas, but so very few are equipped with the attention, rationalism and quite frankly, the time needed in order to become a force of change for whatever cause they are championing. So for most people, having any effect on the direction of the world beyond their immediate community seems out of reach. So then, why bother?
The biggest issue is that people think the only way to change things is to vote for a president or elected official. Given our choices of political parties, apathy is an understandable reaction as there is little difference between them, save for certain social issues. But as the past 100 years have shown us, real awareness and political movements start at community levels. The established system functions as a levee to contain the public within a manageable level, but when there is a flood of popular sentiment, in order to keep the levees from failing completely, they adjust to the change in order to maintain their level of control. When an establishment does not flex with popular sentiment, you end up with situations like Egypt.
But getting back to the Brecht quote. I have always had an issue with it and its relation to apathy, because it relies on the belief that these problems arise from poor governing of society. It basically states: “If the government does not provide (_________), then these negative social aspects will happen, so the worst people are those who do not engage in the political process”. While there is some truth to this, his perspective is too one-sided. In reality, in order to avoid such negative byproducts of society, there needs to be a healthy balance of personal responsibility, honesty and self-determination prevalent and ingrained into the community itself, as well as engagement in the political process to make sure that there is a foundation for all to live decent lives if they choose to, the truly helpless do not fall through the cracks, and our government’s processes are transparent, fair and honest.
Round 2 of The Hundreds presents POLITIXXX begins tomorrow morning!