“How Does the Upcoming Presidential Election Affect You as a Local 802 Member?”

Beat on the Street

Volume CIV, No. 10October, 2004

The most important element is that Bush is for big business, which is usually anti-union. He has fashioned his entire presidency on CEO management style.

Basically the Republican agenda does not give one iota about the concerns of working-class America; that is to say, they do not care about health benefits or other issues, such as pensions and job security.

The Republican party has a fairly significant and long history of catering to the rich and ignoring the middle class and poor; that tone has become even more prevalent in recent years as America moves in many ways today toward becoming a society of the haves and have nots.

While Local 802 might not be directly affected by another four years of Bush, the Republican agenda is to weaken unions and therefore if one union is weakened, all unions are weakened.

–Jimmy Owens

In 2000, there was a great injustice done upon all good Americans. This was the thievery of the Republican Party by bluntly stealing votes in the presidential election from the Democratic Party and Al Gore! My fiscal year income in the last four years has dropped more then 60 percent. Club dates have dropped drastically! There are little to no bands being hired anymore. This is due to the fact that it’s much cheaper to hire a D.J. Everyone is holding on to their checkbooks very tightly.

All the good Bill Clinton did in his eight years in office regarding our economy went into the sewers with George W. Bush in office within a matter of months. This is by far the worst administration to be in office ever. Mickey Mouse could have done a better job.

–Gregg Gerson

This election affects me in ways that most people would not be sensitive to.

For example, four years ago Local 802 and many other unions endorsed Al Gore, almost with a knee jerk. Why? During his tenure as vice president the NAFTA treaty was passed. This was championed by George Bush during his tenure (he was successful in presiding over the passage of GATT).

At the time of the last election both Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan were warning of the dangers of the various trade agreements that compromise both our sovereignty and quality of life. Why did 802 endorse Gore instead of Nader (or for that matter Buchanan)?

With every election cycle that Local 802 and other prominent unions endorse status quo candidates we lose ground, as musicians and as Americans. Every election where I witness intelligent people fearful of thinking outside of the box affects me as well as them — they just don’t know it yet.

Remember, government only “creates” one kind of job. That is government jobs. They do not and have never created private sector employment, yet they can create great impediments to private sector employment. Consider that when endorsing your next candidate. Trade agreements are a bane to unions!

–Tony Finno

I am very concerned about the elections this fall. If, for some reason, President Bush is defeated, it will be not only a blow for the free world and democracy and will usher in a period of more corruption, notably caused by the Democrats (look again at New Jersey), another round of low morals (look at the disgrace caused by Clinton) and will cause our economy to once again stagnate. It will weaken our military and our ability to protect our country.

We were fortunate to have a wonderful economy, thanks to the Reagan years. And the Clintons handed President Bush an economy which was already on the way to ruin. 9/11 problems could have been solved in advance but due to the Clinton destruction of our intelligence agencies as had been done by Carter, we are now suffering the results.

Unfortunately, union leaderships think that their members will not be able to use their own minds and will vote the way they are told. Not true! As a member of Local 802, it is disconcerting to see the union leadership support the likes of Hillary Clinton and, no doubt, John Kerry, who has no record on which to run for 18 years in the Senate of voting mainly against everything for which we stand as a nation.

–James W. Herbert

How will the 2004 elections will affect us? The differences between the candidates are stark:

Kerry favors the AFL-CIO’s “card check” proposal to make it easier for musicians to organize, while Bush likes the present cumbersome rules and appoints more and more anti-union people to the NLRB.

Kerry would subsidize coverage for 27 million presently uninsured Americans (including many musicians); Bush favors giveaways to HMO’s and drug companies (as in the recent Medicare “reform”) and would insure far fewer people.

Bush backed away from international treaties (nuclear test ban, anti-ballistic-missile, global warming, world criminal court, etc.) and pursues a dangerous, unilateralist foreign policy; Kerry wants to restore our close ties with other countries and get international help in cleaning up the mess caused by the Iraq misadventure.

The list could go on, but you said to keep it short. The real question is: how come Allegro has to ask? In the old days, Local 802, like most other unions, showed members the way by suggesting which candidates they should support and why.

–John Glasel

How does an historically high deficit, an illegal imperialist invasion, erosion of our constitution, of various rights, and of separation of church and state, rape of the environment, and neglect of health and education affect any member of any union? Or any citizen for that matter? That’s how it affects me. I feel this election is an emergency, and I will go so far as to say that anyone who doesn’t see that really isn’t paying attention.

–Rich Siegel

Unions, functional or not, are the only chance that participants in capital-driven businesses have. Democrats are usually informed, stirred and enriched by progressive or evolutionary thinking.

–Pheeroan Aklaff

Voting for Bush will take less money out of my paycheck for taxes. Privatizing Social Security will let me invest my money the way I want to, and not force me to give my money to the inefficiencies of government.

–Jeff Tropeano

Ever since the market tanked, work has gone way downhill in many areas. Regular working people don’t have money to go out to clubs and bars (and can’t smoke if they do!), so that end of the business has really been hurt. I’ve been doing a lot more singles in the last couple of years.

I’m hoping that if Kerry gets elected, there will be more work for Americans. I hope the middle class will get some real tax relief — not cuts in federal taxes while local and state taxes go through the roof because Washington mandates unfunded programs. Kerry makes a lot of promises, but whether he can keep them remains to be seen.

Still, at this point even Daffy Duck would be better than the guy running the White House now — or his puppet, George Dubya.

–Russell Alexander

Knowing that the new president is a union supporter and concerned with continuing the growth of the arts (music in particular) is always important to me and all other musicians as well.

–A. Dennis Williams

The upcoming presidential election actually makes me sheepish about my affiliation with Local 802. I was equally bothered in 2000 when 802 “officially endorsed” Al Gore. Every member of 802 is not a Democrat, and I do not believe that the liberal ideology that has become the defining characteristic of the Democratic party is in the best interests of our nation or our union. No matter how candy-coated, the goals of the left are dangerous to our freedom and are pushing us ever closer to the brink of socialism — a benevolent system by definition, but historically unrealistic in a world full of fallible human beings.

–John Thomas Oaks

Since I don’t believe the American public officially elected George W. Bush the first time, if he manages to get elected again, I will probably move to Europe. Music is scientifically proven to have powerful effects on the brain and I feel the Bush administration is allowing a media monopoly to control the minds of Americans while suppressing freedom of speech. Socially conscious lyrics and positive, healing music could cause a movement similar to that of the 1960’s and 1970’s during Vietnam.

–Pamela West

Labor unions endorse John Kerry for president. The strength and effectiveness of our union is extremely important to me, so I’ll vote for Kerry as a union member. I’ll also vote for him because he can conjugate.

–Clint de Ganon

I have been a member of Local 802 since 1937. I earned a good steady living as an arranger, working on many famous radio and TV shows. Since I made some excellent investments prior to my retirement, I find that I must keep George W. Bush in the White House, because I feel I would be in a better position to take advantage of his tax cuts. John Kerry has already shown, by his socialistic promises, that he will need to raise taxes, thereby hurting us middle class musicians.

–Al Kohn

I’m a first-term councilmember in Closter, New Jersey, actively working for Kerry — and Anne Wolfe for Congress.

This is the most important election in my lifetime. Is our country going to revert back to the pre-Hoover days of a dog-eat-dog two-class country, or one where we have a strong middle class along with balanced growth opportunity?

The club date field certainly has been hit hard starting with a gradual slide in the late 1990’s, drastically moving downward since 9/11.

These economics coupled with changing musical tastes certainly make for a great challenge to champion live music.

–Joel Zelnik

At this election, the issue is not jobs or the arts or workers’ rights, but our very survival.

The current administration is dragging us along a suicide course, turning an already dangerous world into a self-destructing one, betraying the environment with an apocalyptic fervor, and selling our soul as a nation.

If President Bush wins another term, the United States that we have all loved and so many have died for, will be lost.

Even if Kerry wins, it will take decades to repair the damage of the past four years.

–Tom Suarez

Since 90 percent of my work is single engagements in Manhattan — a little town that just happens to be the prime target for terrorists — I need to know that my government is up to the task of protecting the city that I live and work in through intelligence and funding. I believe it is unwise to remove an administration mid-war, and I also feel that the Bush team has made much progress in the war on terror.

–Rick Suchow

In the 2004 election, I’ll be voting, not as a musician, not as a member of any party, race, religion, not as a gay or straight person, not as a member of any special interest group — I’ll be voting as an American.

I’ll be voting as an American because John Kerry asked me to do so in his acceptance speech an July 29.

And I’ll be voting for Kerry because I believe he is the candidate with the best chance of restoring our nation’s integrity and standing in the world since the excesses of the present administration.

–John Colligan

I’m beating about the Bush and voting for Kerry.

–Jane Meltzer

I’m a retired member. I still do some local playing, however, here in south Florida. Since I’ve switched over to electronic woodwinds, if Bush got elected again I’d be totally out of luck. There’s absolutely no place for an electronic clarinet in an Army marching band! It would be real tough being drafted again and not getting to see my old army buddies once more.

–Howie Rittner

This election we have facing us presents us with a serious choice that will affect our lives for years to come. There are so many issues we deal with in our lives that are greatly shaped by the public officials whom we choose to represent us.

This year, it’s a much clearer choice between the two candidates than we’ve had in years past. They are two very strong men, both of whom love their country and have a plan on how best to lead it. The next president will preside over a tremendously complicated situation in Iraq, an economy that voters still aren’t sure about, and the constant struggle against terrorism and our fear of it. The next president will also get to appoint two, maybe three justices to the Supreme Court.

In my opinion, the choice is quite clear. One candidate has consistently fought for the rights of unionized workers, and consistently praised, and funded the arts, and arts education for our children. The other candidate has favored union-busting at every turn, and has cut many after-school programs across America that included music and art education.

In my opinion, there is one choice for a member of Local 802, and that is John Kerry. He and John Edwards will defend our nation from its enemies with unshakable ferocity, but they will not do so in neglect of our citizens and the problems we face at home. I believe President Bush has faith in his plan for America, and I respect him for that. But I disagree with his vision, and I have strong belief that Senator John Kerry has a better plan that will be in the interests of the working musician.

But whatever your choice is, be it Mr. Kerry, Mr. Bush, Mr. Nader, or someone else, I plead with you all to not squander your right to cast a vote for the future of America. We can shape our future as we see fit, but only if we do our part by getting to those polls.

–Doug Wamble

The next presidential election not only affects Local 802 members but organized labor in general.

George W. Bush has shown his antipathy towards working people when he blatantly said he would refuse to sign the Homeland Security Bill if it included protecting labor’s rights. In spite of much opposition, even in his own party, he also insists that Congress pass legislation that would rescind overtime pay for most workers. It is inconceivable that any union member will vote for someone like Bush who insists that organized labor give up the advantages we fought so hard to gain this past century.

–Nat Rand

As our union health plan gets more pathetic by the year it’s pretty clear that George Bush has no intention of doing anything that will help us workers in the freelance music field. His idea of fixing the growing national health care crisis is “medical savings plans,” and they only extend as far as small businesses anyway. John Kerry seems to be committed to a national plan that would help all of us, not just the country’s nine-to-five payroll employees. With cautious optimism he’ll have my vote. Bill Clinton had big plans for universal health care too.

–Dan Weiss

I suppose the common response to this question would be that, with regard to labor and arts related issues, Kerry’s presidency would have a better effect on the average 802 member. However, let’s not forget that most of us live in New York City (a k a “Ground Zero”). As much as I feel that Bush has not done what is best concerning labor unions, the environment, and the arts, I must ask myself: what does any of that matter if we get blown up by a suitcase nuke, or have a bio attack that makes New York unlivable?

If the Democrats can show that they will be stronger on defense, and stronger on prosecuting the war on terror, their other positions will be a plus. In this election, defense trumps virtually every other issue. For me, I think my musical career will be more or less the same with either Bush or Kerry as president. What I must consider is: will my city ever be the same if we sustain another terror attack, perhaps worse than 9/11? It still remains to be seen which candidate will have the best plan and most sober attitude concerning this central issue.

–Aaron Minsky (a k a Von Cello)

As a musician, woman, and music educator I believe that my choice in the upcoming election to be very essential. The current “leadership” in Washington is not only anti-union (I am also a member of UFT) but they are not humanists.

George Bush’s presidency is obsessed with making money for the rich at all costs. These costs directly affect the international peace, human lives, and the quality of life through the arts and education.

It is said, along with the myth of a fair election, that George Bush won the election in Florida by little over five hundred votes! If we expect for there to be any kind of a future for humanity we must all go out and vote like never before!

As union members and ethical artists we must take on our responsibilities to be the voices of the last beacons of hope and liberty in the world.

–Elleni Maureas

I hate to sound sarcastic, but if voting could really change anything, it would be made illegal by this government! I find that both parties come with a loathsome contingent of baggage and undesirables connected with them, despite all their talk. They both lie to different segments of society.

–Bill Turner

As an 802 musician, I require air that doesn’t make me sick to play the horn. I need clean water to drink so I’m still healthy enough to come to work. I need a manageable federal deficit so that when I retire, my AFM pension is still worth something. I need fellow citizens who have jobs so they can afford to come to my performances. And I need to live in a country that commands enough good will that we’re not constantly threatened with bodily harm. As I sit here gritting my teeth and trying to be civil, I will say only that the last four years have not inspired a lot of confidence on any of those fronts.

–Pat Hackbarth

As musicians, we’re in a vulnerable and wildly fluctuating corner of the economy, so we’re better able than most to appreciate just how disastrous a democracy stolen by crooks can be. We also have a responsibility as human beings to remember the less fortunate among us, those victimized most by irresponsible wars and budgetary policies that steal from the citizenry and give to the rich. What we’ve seen in the past four years will be the beginning of a long dark slide into fascism, if we don’t act now to take our government back. Those of us with the ability to speak out, should speak out now.

–Ero G. Thomson

“How does the upcoming presidential election affect you as a Local 802 member?” To be honest, I’m not sure that’s the most pertinent question to ask oneself right now. So much has gone wrong under the current administration, all Americans are affected every day of our lives. I was very moved by the words of Senator Barack Obama:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.”

I have an aging mother suffering from Alzheimer’s who needs a great deal of medication. I have a sister who is barely making ends meet as a gerontological social worker in New Jersey. I have a friend who barely escaped death at the World Trade Towers on 9/11. I have two sons whose college tuition I must pay, and my heart cries for those who have lost their own children in the senseless war overseas.

It is as a human being, a citizen of this nation, and a morally responsible adult that I will be affected.

–Robby Merkin

To answer the question “How does the upcoming presidential election affect you as a Local 802 member?” I would say that under the Democrats artists have always done relatively well. Under the Republicans artists have always suffered, even if the president was a former performer himself, like Ronald Reagan.

–Stephen Christen

The election affects all Americans! As if musicians are somehow immune to politics. It is our country, our right to vote. So get out and do it!

–Jeannie Gagné

In a war economy, the arts always suffer. I intend to vote against George W. Bush, so we can have more work.

–David Bennett Cohen

As a proud and lucky resident of Manhattan Plaza we have our voting polls in the Duke Ellington Room. I love to be the first guy to vote at 6 a.m. and it is fun to watch and listen to our residents who get the voting machines ready to rock right on time.

Try as they may, nobody beats me out to #1 because I show up good and early and enjoy saying to #2: “Early bird gets the worm…but second mouse gets the cheese!”

This year it is especially important to get our votes in. As Al Gore said at the Democratic Convention in Boston: “Every vote counts!” We must make sure that never again will the voting process become tainted as it was in Florida. It looked very bad to the rest of the world.

I have friends in the Czech Republic, a new democracy modeled on ours, and they were moved to tears by the news that we could not count all the votes properly. I was very moved by John Kerry’s speech in Boston and am looking forward to a change in November. Don’t miss this great opportunity to cast your votes, my fellow 802 members!

–Jon Hammond

Does anyone actually believe that Republicans promote the arts? Do you really think Bush would sanction more money for arts education in our schools? How can we support a platform that won’t even support our Broadway theatre community because they believe it doesn’t promote their values.

Wake up people: this is a no-brainer!

–Joe Massaro

I feel another four years of the Bush Republican administration means less gig work, less promotion of the arts and music in schools and society as a whole. They’re only true interest is getting more money in their pockets at the expense of the public and environment with no thought to the arts and quality of life as a whole.

–Mike Stien

As a very recent member of the union, I feel the election is extremely important to me, and should be extremely important to artists as a community. I know many of us don’t vote, or haven’t yet, but if there is a time to help our cause, our country, and our ability to pursue our dreams, it’s now. We should all be voting on election day.

–Charles N. Czarnecki

The Democrats have historically been pro-labor and pro arts, whereas the Republicans have historically been pro-employer and pro-big business (i.e. Sony, Disney, BMG, etc.)

–M. Comins

The upcoming election affects me as a unionist.

Presently, we in the labor movement are faced with one of the most important elections of out lifetime. George Bush has done his best to alienate workers via a series of anti-labor practices, even as he lies to the populace, operates in secrecy, embarks on unilateral wars, jeopardizes a woman’s right to choose, threatens our natural environment, weakens our international standing, decimates social programs, and plays on our fear of “other.”

Worse, his presidency has mocked the concept of and scope of the Constitution. 802 members, artists and unionists all need to work hard to remove the continued threat of the Bush administration to impose its will on us and our very civil liberties.

As musicians, we need to also pay heed to the activism that those such as Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Aunt Mollie Jackson, Leadbelly and Pete Seeger, among many others, have sung out before us.

–John Pietaro

If I truly feel that I have a voice in my union and if I truly feel that my union speaks for me by honoring my voice, then I am more inclined to participate even in those local and national aspects which may not speak directly to me but to other members of my union. The electorate of this nation is showing its deepening distrust and distaste for governmental electioneering and the manipulation of our voice. Witness the low percentage of voters even in the presidential elections. I, for one, still reeling from the debacle of 2000, will continue to vote and to speak until we get it right. So should we all.

–Richard Cummings

As a musician who travels abroad, voting for Kerry is a no brainer if you hope to have the odds on your side.

–Bob Millikan

Being a Local 802 musician and a responsible, informed and politically engaged citizen are not mutually exclusive. These perilous times for our country and the world require that each of us be constantly aware, informed and involved — whoever we may be. This is what separates one voter from another. Freedom doesn’t come cheap and we must have an insatiable desire for information and accept nothing less than integrity and honesty from our leaders. We must also be willing to hold them accountable when they fall short of our expectations or renege on promises. Freedom’s biggest enemy is apathy. Pretty much like music I’d say.

–Gladys “Havana” Carbo

Though it would seem that music is an indispensable part of most people’s lives, I’ve always noticed that when the economy takes a dip (or in the case of the Bush administration, a nose dive), paying music gigs start drying up. Frankly, the arts in general suffer under Republican leadership — probably because of their fear and dislike of First Amendment-protected speech which has the possibility of being critical of the policies Republicans try to force on the country. I’m proudly voting for John Kerry and John Edwards in November not only because they will return this country to a stronger, healthier state, but also because I think music will flourish under these Democrats and that affects my union. Besides, John Kerry is a guitarist, so how can I (as a guitarist myself) not vote for him?

–Dan Goldberg