Confessions of a Right-Wing Rocker

Alanna Weissman

“If you think that punk rock doesn’t mix with politics, you’re wrong,” sang the famously polemic punkers NoFX on “You’re Wrong.” I couldn’t agree more; while music has always given voice to the non-politicos among us and had the power to spark broad social movements – think Lennon’s iconic “Imag-ine” – punk rock (and all derivative genres) in particular has established itself as a bastion of far-left expression for today’s young, frustrated liberals. Like many of my fellow teenaged New Yorkers, I found myself drawn to this music and its scene. The only problem: I’m not a liberal.

Before I go any further, I should disclose that this headline, though catchy, is a bit of a misnomer; I’m actually a staunch libertarian of the minarchist variety, that is, I think government function should be strictly limited to maintaining a military, police force and judicial system, thereby allowing individuals the utmost freedom. Essentially, I want government to stay as small as possible and I think people should be allowed to do just about anything they want, provided all involved parties can and do consent. Yes, this includes abortion rights, gay marriage, polygamy, recreational drug use, assisted suicide, prostitution, selling one’s organs, you name it. Despite my fervent support of personal liberties, however, my even more fervent disdain for liberal economic theory usually pushes me to vote Repub-lican – this election is no exception – operating under the as-sumption not only that a strong economy is the best basis for sweeping social change, but also that a libertarian presidential candidate currently has no realistic chance of election. Though I could wax poetic about the virtues of libertarianism, that in and of itself is a whole other article waiting to be written – so, instead, back to the music.

How am I, a right-leaning voter living in a left-wing epi-center, to enjoy my music when bands I like release entire albums denouncing Republican presidents (yes, Anti-Flag, this means you) and I then go on to hang out with said bands after their shows? How can I cope with the fact that my favorite band’s members are vegan veterans of the Live Earth concert, while I believe much of climate change the-ory is simply media sensationalism? Why do I continue to spend sometimes exorbitant amounts of money to attend shows where performers deride my political beliefs onstage and are met with claps and cheers? Why do I continue to support bands whose very monikers, and sometimes mem-bers, openly and nastily mock my candidates (one need only read Rage Against the Machine’s response to Paul Ryan’s praise to see that I am not exaggerating). The biggest ques-tion: why do I then buy album after album from these per-formers, effectively paying them to tell me, often rudely, that I’m wrong?

The answer lies in the fact that, unlike the rest of the country, I’d like to think I can keep my life and my politics almost entirely separate. All but my closest con-fidants would likely assume I’m a leftist and, if knowing otherwise could potentially prompt a debate or a lecture, I’m disinclined to correct them. I speak with my vote, not by arguing with friends over dinner, slacktivists on Facebook or strangers at concerts. After all, tolerance can work wonders where whole-hearted acceptance may not exist. And again, unlike the rest of the country, I see no reason to “convert” those who don’t share my views: such efforts, no matter who instigates them, usually amount to little more than mutual frustration and wasted breath. And, while berating those of us who don’t agree with the rest of our age and geographic demographic may not in theory be the best strategy for selling records, I would never want these bands to stop. Because the rebellious, youthful scene that caused punk music to emerge and thrive is one and the same with what attracted me to it in the first place. Without that spark, the music and scene wouldn’t be what it is today – and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Contact Alanna Weissman at [email protected]