Graham Nash, who became a U.S. citizen in the late 1970s, came to the United States from Britain in 1968. Since then, working with musical partners David Crosby and Stephen Stills, as well as Neil Young on occasion, Nash became one of music’s most astute and outspoken chroniclers of the political scene, as shown on songs like “Ohio” and “Woodstock.”
As someone who’s watched the American political climate for almost 50 years he has a lot to say about this year’s presidential race. I’ve been here since ’68 and watched every political contest going on and this is by far the strangest one,” he tells Billboard. “I have never seen a party in such disarray as the Republicans and such extreme levels of hatred and animosity towards other people.”
Not surprisingly, his opinions of the candidates start with Republican contender Donald Trump. “Isn’t that an interesting phenomenon, this Trump thing? We’re just feeding his show, his shtick,” Nash says.
He also has strong thoughts on why Trump has made such a splash in this year’s election. “There are an incredible amount of people in this country that are not so bright and he is appealing to a great many of them and a great many of their fears, the boogie man waiting to take their guns and come and rape their daughters in the middle of the night,” Nash says, not holding back his thoughts at all. “He’s playing upon all those fears and it’s dreadful to see, but nobody I know has the will or the power to shut him up.”
So, who does the musician support? “I love Bernie Sanders, I love what he stands for,” Nash says. “I don’t believe right now that he can be elected. I believe that Hillary [Clinton] has him beaten on foreign policy experience, but she has her problems also with Wall Street and the people that have supported her and the fact that people are getting a little tired of these political dynasties between the Clintons and the Bushes.”
Though he questions Sanders’ viability in a general election, he does believe the Vermont senator’s campaign can continue to build momentum. “If Bernie Sanders wins Iowa or New Hampshire, I think you’ll see an enormous wave of energy coming his way,” adds Nash.
As one of the leading voices in the musical protests of the Vietnam era, Nash has seen the effect music can have on politics and society. Can music make a difference in the 2016 election?
“As artists we have a responsibility to reflect the times in which we live and as people we have a responsibility to try and make it better for the next generation, that’s how I view it, very simplistic viewpoint,” Nash says. “I think you have to talk with your vote, figure out the candidate you really truly believe in, knowing full well the job of politician is to get re-elected and therefore they have to usually sell out to some person or corporation that’s given them fortunes to run and therefore are beholden to them. It’s well known that a great deal of the congress and the senate is bought and paid for. But you have to put your vote where your mouth is and go for who you believe in.”