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19 October 2008

Comments

Andy H-D
1.

Being freshly minted and all (as well as my jaunt into musicology delaying my consideration of AFM), have they had a history of endorsing candidates the same way other unions have?

DJA
2.

The AFM endorsed Kerry in 2004.

jodru
3.

Just curious, but you don't you see this speech as every bit as divisive as the very tactics he's decrying?

'There's not a single good reason for any worker, especially any union member, to vote against Barack Obama.'

That doesn't exactly encourage dissenting views, especially when it's coming from a union official.

DJA
4.

Hi Jodru,

Is what he is saying inaccurate? What are the Republican policies that are beneficial to people who have to work for a living? What are the Republican policies that make it easier for workplaces to be organized or for unions to advocate for their membership?

Trumka's point isn't "Gee, can't we all just get along?" Because, look, we can't. It's a competitive world out there. Many of those competing interests are rational and inevitable -- corporations want to maximize profits; workers want to maximize their share of the profits they help create. On the other hand, some of those competing interests are based in irrational prejudice, like bigotry.

Trumka's point is that if you let irrational prejudice blind you to your own economic interests, you are only hurting yourself and cutting yourself off from your natural allies.

I think it's a huge stretch to claim that saying "Working people should vote for the party that supports their interests" is in any way comparable to the racism Trumka decries.

jodru
5.

Again, this is what gives me pause about being a conservative in such a liberal field, because Trumka and you can't even entertain the idea that a conservative candidate might be the preferred choice of a union member.

That's what I see as divisive.

"There's not a single good reason..."

Really? I can think of several reasons to vote for both Obama and McCain, as well as several reasons to vote against them.

I think Obama's point IS that we can all get along. It's kind of surprising to hear someone who is so enthusiastic about his candidacy disagree with him on that fundamental point.

DJA
6.

Hi Jodru,

Of course, the conservative candidate is the preferred choice of lots of union members, which is a problem because conservative policies are fundamentally pro-management and anti-union -- that's part of what being a conservative means.

Again, Trumka's point is that Obama's economic policies are much more favorable to working people, especially union members. The evidence for this point of view seems pretty overwhelming to me, although if you have countervailing evidence I'm happy to hear you out.

I find Obama's "post-partisan" language extremely frustrating, although obviously it plays well with a lot of people. But the reality is that progressives have never achieved any of their goals by sitting back and hoping that the powers-that-be will throw them some scraps. People fought long and hard, often at great personal risk, for women's suffrage, middle-class wages for working people, desegregation, Medicare, Social Security, the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Environmental Protection Act, marriage equality, etc etc etc. These things do not come without struggle.

josh s.
7.

Jodru,

I understand that you feel like your views are unwelcome, but in the interests of clarity:

could you (briefly) enumerate a few reasons why a person in the arts community should vote for McCain?

Concamitantly, what are a few reason why an artist should NOT vote for Obama?

Again, I just ask these questions out of curiosity.

Thanks.

jodru
8.

Josh, I don't feel my views are unwelcome, especially by someone as gracious as Darcy.

I also don't want to get into a nuts and bolts argument for or against any particular candidate.

Suffice it to say, that I'm currently on tour with an avant-garde ensemble based in Cologne that has a ridiculous level of government funding on behalf of their batshit crazy new Stockhausen production, and having gigged all over the US, I know that our federal support for the arts will never ascend beyond the laughable (compared to Europe).

Obama,McCain...neither one will change things for the better, with regards to arts funding.

And if you think that a newly minted president with a gargantuan defecit and a recession will make arts funding a priority, I've got a bridge to nowhere to sell you! :)

DJA
9.

And if you think that a newly minted president with a gargantuan defecit and a recession will make arts funding a priority

You mean like FDR did?

But sure, your point is taken. Nonetheless, I still think it's rational to prefer the candidate who actually has an arts policy, even if its unlikely to be fully implemented.

jodru
10.

I don't.

And therein lies the difference.

While I'm currently very much enjoying (and living off of) federal funding for the arts, I think the American system is preferable.

I don't think it's the government's job to fund the arts, especially when there are so many other pressing needs.

So, I don't see it as a rational choice to vote for someone who says they'll spend federal monies on the arts, when the federal monies are earned by borrowing 2 billion dollars every day from other countries.

DJA
11.

Well, let's be clear on the amounts involved here. The federal government currently funds the NEA to the tune of $125 million per year. Let's say Obama raises that amount back to where it was in 1992 -- $175 million per year. That's about half of what we are spending every day in Iraq.

Andrew Durkin
12.

If the people don't fund the arts, and the government doesn't fund the arts, then the arts will eventually go away.

James
13.

Re: funding arts, I am also a little concerned over the government funding artists, because successful art is often controversial, and Piss Christ, and yada yada yada, but of course funding is preferable to no funding.

Jodru: Thanks for posting a dissenting view point, but MAKE YOUR POINT. You write:

I can think of several reasons to vote for both Obama and McCain, as well as several reasons to vote against them.

Then, the reasons you list are:

Obama,McCain...neither one will change things for the better, with regards to arts funding.

I don't think it's the government's job to fund the arts, especially when there are so many other pressing needs.

Putting aside that those statements make no sense next to each other, you seem to prefer McCain because he will NOT increase arts spending. What else can we gather?

Or perhaps, arts funding and workers' rights don't really play into your decision. I heard a woman on tv say that she votes for the candidate who has the most christ in his heart. Everyone decides for different reasons. But the reason the UNION decides is based on what is best for them as a UNION. Surely you understand that. Anti-choice voter blocs such as will vote for McCain. Pro-choice such as NARAL will vote Obama. This is basic stuff.

Now I want to try something. You seem concerned about Federal Spending. Did you know that George Bush's policies have put us into this hole? And do you know that McCain has supported those policies lock step? The last time the budget was balanced was under Bill Clinton. It is the democrats who will fix this economy. Under Obama, you will get a tax cut (unless you are a VERY successful musician! Is that you Chris Botti?) Obama has a plan to reduce the cost of your health insurance. Most importantly, he won't exlude you for a preexisting condition.

There are a lot of reasons to vote for McCain.

One is fervently anti-choice.
One does not support equal rights for gays.
One is better off today than he was 8 years ago.
One favors wiretapping Americans, illegally detaining and torturing people, invading sovereign countries, etc.

Vote your interests Jodru, whatever those may be. But you can't blame artists for voting based on which candidate will support the arts.

josh s.
14.

Jodru,

What (in your opinion) is the government's job?

josh s.
15.

and as a side question:
why don't you want to get into a "nuts and bolts" argument?

andrea
16.

If the people don't fund the arts, and the government doesn't fund the arts, then the arts will eventually go away.

I consider myself something of a socialist, and therefore think that the government can (theoretically) serve as a neutral third-party clearinghouse for the funding of projects both logistical and social that serve the people of the country; but I have to disagree with this statement. Art will never come to a halt, money or no, because art is an essential part of expressing who we are. Yes, sans funding certain types of projects will be a lot more difficult to make happen, like operas and symphonies, but I doubt that even those will go away entirely. Someone will fund them. Other artists will find different and new ways to make art that is relevant to them and others. The nature of arts production will change, but art will not die. It existed before governments and funding anyway, did it not?

I have really mixed feelings, to be honest, about government funding vs private funding vs scraping it together; but I won't say no to government funding. I will say no if the government tries to dictate what values my art should express. And that's where the Piss Christ issue becomes so difficult. How much say should a funder, private or public, have in the creation of art? If art is a way to explore values and relationships, then why would a funder want to participate in the act of making something they don't agree with? If we go entirely with private funding, then the funders fund things that they dig; one then has to hope that it isn't just certain people with certain views have the money. If we go with public funding, then we have to hope that the government gives equal opportunity to a variety of views, because if one person has that view, then two people do; the government can't be dictating values (unless they're physically harmful, of course -- anyone else up for another metaphysical can of worms?). None of this is easily solved by any president.

Andrew Durkin
17.

Hi Andrea:

Art will never come to a halt, money or no, because art is an essential part of expressing who we are. Yes, sans funding certain types of projects will be a lot more difficult to make happen, like operas and symphonies, but I doubt that even those will go away entirely. Someone will fund them. Other artists will find different and new ways to make art that is relevant to them and others. The nature of arts production will change, but art will not die. It existed before governments and funding anyway, did it not?

Yes, though I’m not sure it was always conceptualized as “art." In many so-called "folk cultures," for instance, what we consider “art” – something that can be stepped back from, analyzed, understood to express something about the human condition, separated from its immediate social utility and put in a museum or on a record, etc. – is understood as “life.” For better or worse (maybe the former, I dunno), there is less of a clear distinction between the art object and the people who create it or use it.

What I was getting at with my comment was that in order to have art as we know it, you have to have a certain infrastructure / cultural apparatus. For music, you have to have a network of performance spaces, a musical instrument industry, a system for mechanical reproduction (even if it’s just a printing press), a set of legitimizing institutions (or counter-legitimizing counter-institutions), and so on. All of that takes capital, whether it comes from the people or the government.

At least until we evolve to some sort of higher, post-economic type of society...

I have really mixed feelings, to be honest, about government funding vs private funding vs scraping it together; but I won't say no to government funding. I will say no if the government tries to dictate what values my art should express.

As well you should! But the idea of government funding of the arts isn’t (or shouldn’t be) reducible to how much money is going directly to a composer or musician to create [Work X]. It is (or should be) much more about supporting and ensuring the sustainability of the infrastructure / culture I was describing.

Possibly the best way to do this is to increase funding for arts education – which, incidentally, is the top tier of Obama’s arts policy. There are many reasons to fund arts education, but from our perspective as artists, it’s about audience development, and giving the next generation the intellectual and philosophical capital (and wherewithal) to be able to respond to something like “Piss Christ” as art (whether they like it or not) -- not as some kind of social bogeyman.

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