The question was asked to Henry Rollins, the outspoken American singer-songwriter, spoken word artist, writer, comedian, publisher, actor, and radio DJ. He was the former frontman of hardcore punk band, Black Flag, and the lead of his own Rollins Band.
In addition to his prolific career as a musician, artist, actor, and dj, Rollins has also become quite well-known for his political activism. He has campaigned for various political causes in the United States, including promoting LGBT rights, World Hunger Relief, and an end to war in particular, and tours overseas with the United Service Organizations to entertain American troops.
On October 1, 2011, just over one month ago, Rollins published a book, Occupants. The book is about Rollins’ extensive travels around the world, to places such as Afghanistan, Mali, South Africa, Iraq, Thailand, Burma, Northern Ireland, and Saudi Arabia, sharing his photographs and observations about the suffering, anger, and resilience of the people throughout the world.
Rollins’ disappointments with American foreign policy don’t just end there. He is very well voiced in Patriotism, based in careful study and thought about American and world history.
And so when some politicians say when a hurricane comes through Texas New York’s tax dollars shouldn’t be diverted to Texas to help, because Texas is Texas, 10th amendment, I say “No! It’s the United States.” We’re a team, America. I want to help the people in Texas. They are my neighbors. Take my California tax dollars to help these people. I don’t want to see them flooded. I want to see them rescued and that’s where we stick up for each other.
That is what the founding fathers (who some people like to mention so often), that is what they were beating each other up over in un-air-conditioned rooms in sweltering Philadelphia – that we stick together through thick and thin. That, to me, is being patriotic. That is what paying taxes is all about. That is what you see in great American cities. You see people looking out for one another. When we lose that, we lose the whole ball of wax.
It’s pretty obvious that we’re already losing “the whole ball of wax” when the next Presidential election is likely to be between the increasingly unpopular President Obama and the only person left standing on the right, Mitt Romney. Obama has become not only disappointed many of his 2008 supporters who were swept enthusiastically into politics for the first time by his emotionally charged, dramatic, and dynamic campaign, but also angered many of them for his apparent pandering to the political, economic, and military elite in order to secure small advances out of the quagmire that Washington has become. Romney, on the other hand, is most well known for his handsomeness and whose primary strength as he seeks to be the Republican nominee is that he is not crazy, mean, stupid, or lazy. Kind of sad, that the “Supreme Leader of the Free World” in 2012 will be a choice between a guy who has been accused of betraying his commitment to the 99% and another guy who won mostly because he is not pathetic. For many, apathy is more interesting than the alternative.
Apathy, of course, is not the solution. We need to return to the thinking that we can each do our part to change the world. Self reliance and personal responsibility, of course, will enable us to gain control of the things we can change and make better. But it is quite interesting to consider what impact a different leadership would have.
So when the Big Think went to ask Henry Rollins what he would do if he were elected President of the United States, this is what he had to say:
Henry Rollins on Big Think