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Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

uploaded: Wed, May 11, 2011 @ 9:40 AM last modified: Wed, May 11, 2011 @ 9:41 AM  (add)
byprojectQUESTION (lonnie ray atkinson)
Featuringa work by Alex, words from the campaign of Shirley Chisholm
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Before anyone gets the wrong idea, this song is in no way an endorsement of republicans or the right wing of American politics (if anything, it ridicules the idea being put forth by republicans that this administration is “socialist” or “left” or whatever scary words they can conjure up to demonize the politics of social justice). It is, instead, a condemnation of a two party electoral/media system that continues to put us in the position of choosing between (and placing our hopes on) corporate democrats and corporate republicans.

In the third verse of Biz Markie’s 1988 track Nobody Beats the Biz, there’s a really profound line stating, “Reagan is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm.”

I took that to mean that Shirley Chisholm was the kind of candidate we wish could win, but Reagan was who we got stuck with.

Since then, Method Man and LL Cool J have used the same line referring to Clinton and Bush respectively. In that tradition, I wanted to write a song that would not only use this line, but would expand on its meaning.

I wanted to write a song that was not just about the disappointment so many have had with the current administration, but more about how we got here and what we can do to bring about real change. Moving from the shameful dynamics of electoral/advertising campaigns to busting out of our “two party prison,” I end with an emphasis on activism and “direct action founded on vision.”

While this song may not be too popular with Obama supporters, I would simply ask what they are doing to demand the implementation of progressive policies.

This song is merely a mild critique. And it will take much more than a mild critique of a president to bring about anything more than fragile, snail-like reforms.

With that said, I hope this song will inspire people to work not only toward improving the quality of our candidates, but more so toward changing the very institutions that regulate our participation in society.

(the end sample is a mixture of three small clips from the historic 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm)

"Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm"
by projectQUESTION (lonnie ray atkinson)

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