During the last presidential election campaign, neo-soul singer-songwriter John Legend worked hard to make sure Barack Obama got the gig. Now that the next presidential election is only a few months away, Legend is back campaigning for Obama. He’s spending the day in Toledo and then heading down I-75 to hit Lima, Dayton, Cincinnati, and as many cities and small towns as he can. He called us this morning from Toledo to tell us about why he thinks this election is so important and why Obama should get another four years in the Oval Office.
What is your sense of how things are different this time around?
He’s not new anymore. So that excitement of being new is a bit different. The stakes are even higher in this election because the differences between the two candidates are very stark. The Republican Party has taken a harsh turn to the right. The differences between the types of policies they would pursue haven’t been more pronounced in the time that I’ve been politically aware and voting.
So many people are out of work and not making ends meet, why is it even a question of who to vote for?
Plenty of people are going to vote Republican or Democrat no matter what. The people in the middle are going to vote their present situation. You can’t blame them for that. If someone is in power and you or your friends or family are unemployed, you might blame the person in power. But any view of recent history will show that the reason a lot of people are unemployed is because there was a massive financial crisis that happened shortly before the president was elected and we’ve been slowly but surely climbing our way out of that nasty ditch we were in. But these thigns don’t happen over night. The appropriate reading of what happened over the past couple of years is that the President started in the middle of a crisis. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. And because of the stimulus, because of the auto bailout and because of the financial system bailout, the recession that was the worst since the Great Depression became a turn around story. We’ve made a lot of progress despite being fought tooth and nail by the Republican congress that refused to cooperate with anything the President wanted to do. The question is do we want to keep moving forward or do we want to go back to the policies that got us here in the first place. I want to keep moving forward and that’s why I’m voting for the President to be reelected.
Do you think there’s an element of racism to anti-Obama rhetoric?
I think a portion of it is but a significant of the criticism would be there whether he was black or white. There were people who hated Bill Clinton and impeached him and tried to de-legitimate him whenever they could. It’s not just because he’s black though there’s an element of that. I was just reading an article that dissects the difference it makes that he’s black and how that affects certain voting blocks. We can’t get too hung up on that because he did win the last election and convinced the majority of Americans to vote for him. I think he’ll be able to do that again.
Talk about mixing music and politics.
My last album was called Wake Up and was completely political. But a lot of times I write a lot of love songs and how we interact in relationships and that cuts across the political spectrum and is just about human interaction and human love. That’s what is universal about music and that’s what universal about love and the concepts we talk about.