Election season is upon us again, along with its many frustrations. Here in Chicago, the competition for least evil is particularly fierce in a couple races, and the temptation to vote for 3rd parties, whether slated or not, is great.
With that in mind, I was listening to Mermaid Avenue, Volume II by Billy Bragg & Wilco and was reminded of the following little gem of a song.
It was written as a campaign song for Florida folklorist and activist Stetson Kennedy. There is a Wikipedia article with background on the man and his writings. That article indicates the song was written for the 1952 Florida governor's race, but the Whose Florida? site seems to be more accurate in describing it as a write-in campaign for the 1950 US Senate race against Democrat George Smathers.
Lyrics by Woody Guthrie, 1950
I done spent my last three cents
Mailing my letter to the President
Didn't make a show, I didn't make a dent
So I'm swinging over to this independent gent
Writing his name in
Writing his name in
I can't win out to save my soul
Long as Smathers-Dupont's got me in the hole
Them war profit boys are squawking and balking
That's what's got me out here walking and talking
Knocking on doors and windows
Wake up and run down election morning
And scribble in Stetson Kennedy
I ain't the world's best writer, ain't the world's best speller
But when I believe in something I'm the loudest yeller
If we fix it so you can't make no money on war
Well we'll all forget what we was killing folks for
We'll find us a peace job equal and free
We'll dump Smathers-Dupont in a salty sea
Well, this makes Stetson Kennedy the man for me
There is an official Stetson Kennedy Website that actually links to the song.
I especially like the bit about taking the profit out of war. It might be an oversimplification, but it certainly has resonance to what's going on today. Vote your conscience on November 7, but definitely make sure you vote.