Bonnie Rait speaks:
…. “The highpoint would be our European tour, to get out of the US and give Europeans a shot at what the rest of Americans are thinking so they don’t think we’re just all latched up behind the new world imperialist order.”
Raitt laughs but she’s serious. We’ve begun by talking about her saying that politically this was the worst time in America in her lifetime. Given she was there in the civil rights era, the Vietnam protests and the anti-Reagan battles that’s some statement. It’s not just this administration, she says, but how Americans are perceived abroad which worries her.
“I don’t think we’ve ever been regarded with as little esteem as we are now, and the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan has hurt our standing, economically as well as politically. Domestically what’s happened with medical care, environmental protection, civil rights, privacy, and free speech? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it as threatened as it is now.
“Basically Congress has undone 20 years of environmental protection legislation, just slashed it. It’s beyond infuriating for those of us who have been working for human rights and justice, for them to undo all we thought was written into law.
“The thing that makes it especially problematic is that there is no democracy without an informed electorate. But if the right of the political spectrum is controlling the ways people are getting political information – and the computerised election machines are being bought by a company controlled by an out-and-out Republican contributor, so there is no way to get into the software to track whether there is fraud or fooling with election results – you’ve got serious problems for a democracy. Especially if you are only getting one political viewpoint and everyone else is considered unpatriotic.”
An activist and ordinary citizen could feel defeated by this but Raitt is optimistic about the Democrats’ chances.
“Don’t forget Bush didn’t win the election,” she laughs. “There are many more people upset about the way things are going than is being reported in the polls. I’m not being simplistic, there are polls and there are polls.”