"Artists and musicians occupy a special place in the social and political life of a nation. Over the years I have tried to think carefully about what it means to be American: about the specific identity and position we hold in the world, and how this position can best be used. I have tried to write songs that pricked our pride and criticised our shortcomings.
These are the questions at the heart of the upcoming elections: who are we, what do we stand for, why are we fighting?
Personally, over the past 25 years, I have always preferred to stay away from political militants. However, I myself have been partisan when it comes to upholding certain ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a more humane foreign policy, freedom and decent living conditions for all citizens. This year, however, for many of us, the stakes became too high to simply await the outcome of the elections without participating.
Through my work I have always tried to ask uncomfortable questions. Why does the richest nation in the world find it so difficult to keep its promises to its weakest citizens? Why do we find it so hard to look beyond the veil of racial prejudice? How should we behave in times of trouble, without destroying what we love? Why does keeping the promises we make as a people seem so easy every time, and yet prove so complex in practice?
I do not believe that John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. But I do believe they have a sincere interest in asking the right questions and seeking an honest solution. They understand that we need an administration that prioritises fairness, curiosity, clarity, humility, concern for all American citizens, courage and trust. People have different concepts about these values and live them in different ways. I have tried to talk about some of them in my songs. But I also have my own opinion about their meaning. That is the reason why I have decided to tour all over the country next October with other artists like the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, REM, the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne. We will perform under the name of a new group, Vote for Change. Our aim is to change the direction of government and the current administration in November.
Like many others, immediately after 9/11, I felt the country united. I do not remember anything like it. I supported the decision to go into Afghanistan and hoped that the gravity of the times would engender in our leaders strength, humility and wisdom. Instead, we threw ourselves headlong into a pointless war in Iraq, sacrificing the lives of our young people in circumstances that seem unjustified today. We have a growing public deficit and, at the same time, social services such as after-school care have been cut and minimised. Tax cuts have been given to the wealthiest (corporate managers, famous guitarists), thus increasing the economic divide that threatens to destroy our social contract and undo the promise of 'one indivisible nation'. It is through the honest exercise of the best human qualities - respect for others, honesty with ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we make ourselves worthy in the eyes of God. This is how our soul, both as a nation and as individuals, manifests itself. The American government has strayed too far from our values. It is time to get back on track. The country in our hearts is waiting.
Copyright New York Times - La Repubblica
(translation by Antonella Cesarini)
In the photo Bruce Springsteen & the E street Band, during the penultimate Italian concert, at the Stadio Artemio Franchi of Florence on 8 June 2003.