2016 Election: Country Stars' Picks and Protests - Rolling Stone
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2016 Election: Country Stars’ Picks and Protests

On today’s Ram Report, we break down Clinton vs. Trump in the country and Southern rock worlds

With the Democratic National Convention drawing to a close tomorrow night, just a handful of country musicians have begun making their presidential picks public.

Hillary Clinton’s list of supporters includes Willie Nelson, who supported both the former First Lady and Senator Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary race, as well as the Dixie Chicks, whose DCX Tour features a stage prop adorning Donald Trump’s face with devil horns. Cyndi Lauper is gunning for a Democratic presidency as well, telling Rolling Stone Country during a March 2016 interview that Clinton is “the person who can actually do the job.”

Other roots musicians have been outspoken in their distaste for Republican candidate Donald Trump, although that doesn’t necessarily indicate an endorsement of his opponent.

“There is a person in this room who has never heard of Donald Trump. Let’s keep it that way,” Jason Isbell scribbled onto a note in September 2015, shortly after the birth of his daughter. He then taped the note to the door of his wife’s hospital room and tweeted the image. One month later, Steven Tyler’s lawyers drafted a far more threatening note to Trump’s organization, threatening to pursue “any and all legal or equitable remedies” if the organization continued its unauthorized use of the Aerosmith song “Dream On” during campaign rallies. Finally, Margo Price got poetic as 2015 came to a close, tweeting out a message in December that rhymed Trump’s name with a number of choice nouns and phrases, including “dump,” “chump” and “I need a stomach pump.”

Regardless, Trump has still racked up a larger share of country-music champions. Kid Rock, Lee Brice, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Chris Janson all performed at the RNC last week, with Janson even revising the lyrics of his biggest songwriting hit, “Truck Yeah,” to “Trump Yeah.” Earlier in the month, Ronnie Dunn took to Facebook to pledge his own support, listing the alleged benefits a Trump presidency would bring. (Among them: “You can say whatever you want without being called a racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, etc.”) And then there’s longtime Republican supporters the Oak Ridge Boys, whose Joe Bonsall proudly took to Twitter this week to flaunt the purchase of an engraved brick bearing the inscription “Build that wall!” According to Bikers 4 Trump, whose website currently offers the customized bricks at $49.95 a piece, the building materials will be used to construct a “Memorial Border Ball” on State Highway 49 outside of Atlanta.

Meanwhile, most country stars are remaining silent — or, in the case of two country icons, temporarily neutral. “I try not to get political,” Dolly Parton wrote in a recent press release, “but if I am, I might as well just run myself ’cause I’ve got the hair for it, it’s huge, and they could always use more boobs in the race.” Equally irreverent is a statement from the otherwise notoriously political Hank Williams Jr., who told Rolling Stone Country that he was more concerned with his career than any political race. “I don’t give a shit about the election,” he explained bluntly. “I’ve got a smash CD coming out!”


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