Punk Voter, a leftist organization determined to mobilize young people across the country to be active and vote, was launched last year in an effort to blend punk rock music with politics, while encouraging young people to make their voices heard.Punk Voter was put together by Fat Mike, the lead singer of NOFX, and a veteran of the modern punk rock scene. The organizationʼs president is a
surprising candidate because past NOFX albums such as “Punk in Drublic,” “Heavy Petting Zoo,” and “White Trash, Two Heebs, & a Bean,” offered little political content. In the past, the band has stuck to their four-chord formula of ʻ90s poppunk, without speaking out about concerning issues.
However, NOFXʼs “War on Errorism” album from 2003 offered songs that were heavy critiques concerning the Bush administration, globalization, and the commercialization of todayʼs punk rock scene. Fat Mike was successful in rallying several bands that have had punk rock status for years to contribute to the cause, such as Bad Religion, former Dead Kennedys front-man Jello Biafra, The Circle Jerks, and Social Distortion.
Fat Mike has also succeeded in gathering the help of modern punk rock bands such as Against Me!, Green Day, The Alkaline Trio, Strung Out, Hot Water Music, Sum 41, The Code, and several others. PunkVoter.com states, “It is time to energize the majority of todayʼs disenfranchised youth movement and punk rockers to make change a reality.”
Punk Voter uses a slew of tactics to mobilize youth and make a difference. Bands devoted to the Punk Voter movement released music for two compilations titled “Rock Against Bush,” which were released a few months ago and cracked the Billboard charts.
The compilations also provided DVDs with punk rock music videos, political commentary and documentaries. The musicians working with the cause also have voter registration tables at their concerts, and the movement even has its own tour called “Rock Against Bush,” which currently features political punks Anti-Flag, Strike Anywhere and others.
Punkvoter.com also has editorials from some of punk rockʼs heavyweights, such as Jello Biafra, Jesse Michaels the former front-man of the inﬂuential band, Operation Ivy; Jay Bentley of Bad Religion, Jim Lindberg of Pennywise and others.
Through music, Punk Voter has been educating youth, registering people to vote, and mobilizing young people in hopes of inﬂuencing the election. However, the organization wants to continue encouraging punk rockers and young people to be involved in politics even after the election is over.
The Punk Voter movement is succeeding in reaching out to young people across the country. The punk scene has become widely accepted in the mainstream music world, so the movement has a powerful reach across the country.
Bands involved with the movement, such as Green Day, The Foo Fighters and Sum 41 also have the power to reach out to many young people, due to their popularity and musical success. Punk Voter does have a chance to make a change in November and beyond.
Of course, Punk Voter isnʼt the only organization blending music with politics. Conservative Punk was launched this year in an effort to counter Punk Voter. Michael Graves, a solo punk rock artist who once sang for the re-incarnation of the Misﬁts, created the organization.
Conservativepunk.com features various editorials and cartoons like Punkvoter.com. However, Conservative Punk has yet to release a successful compilation or tour. The organization also lacks the punk rock star power that the Punk Voter movement has gained.
The effect that Punk Voter will have on the election has yet to be determined. However, the movement has proven that using music as a platform for politics is a way to reach thousands of young people across the country and make difference.