Politico interviews Tom Morello:
INFLUENCE ROCK – The labor movement has a friend in Tom Morello. Best known as the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine andAudioslave, the self-described working-class troubadour is out with a new CD, the proceeds from which will benefit the America Votes Labor Unity Fund. Inspired by this winter’s union protests in Wisconsin, the eight tracks on “Union Town” include three original songs. (Download the title track for free or watch the video here: http://bit.ly/l4rvDS.) POLITICO Influence chatted with the Harvard-educated political science major and former Capitol Hill denizen about how music can influence politics. Q & A edited for clarity and length:
How do you hope this CD influences the debate?
I’m less interested in how this CD influences the debate and more interested in how it helps us steel the backbone of an emerging labor movement with the kind of teeth that can really stand up to working class rights in this country. What we saw in Madison, what we’re seeing across the Midwest, I hope is a resurgence of a vital and vibrant working class movement that is not going to be beholden to either corporate or governmental interests.
How do you want to influence the labor movement?
My hope is to encourage the labor movement to not become diluted by politics as usual. This is a chance to not just stop some bad legislation but to really put some wind in the sails of progressive working class issues and to take back the populist narrative from the misappropriation by the tea party.
What’s your message to all folks working the other side of the issue, the corporate interests?
My message to them would be, ‘How do you sleep at night?’ But I do understand, capital has its demand and the servants of capital can do what they’re going to do. But we’re not going to sit back and take it. And if you want to be on the right side of history, you’re more than welcome to fill out your union card and to join us in the struggle.
The reason why I chose a career in music instead of politics, I’ll tell you a quick story that illuminates that. I was working for a senator and one day this woman called up and she had a complaint that there were Mexicans moving into her neighborhood. And I, thinking I was standing up for all the things that Sen. (Alan) Cranston stood for, I said, ‘Ma’am you’re a racist and you can go to hell.’ And the next two weeks I got yelled at by everybody up and down the political food chain. And it was crystal clear to me at that moment if I couldn’t tell a racist to go to hell, that I was in the wrong business.