On second thought: Rock power has its limits

Rock ‘n’ roll has always been about fighting the man. But has the man ever been defeated or influenced by musicians? The answer is no.

Recently, Lady Gaga took to the podium to give her “prime rib of America” address. She spoke on the unfairness of the military policy, “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy banning openly gay soldiers from serving in the military.

She argued it undermined the Constitution and called for an immediate repeal so she could enjoy “the best piece of meat America has to offer.”

Will the most Google-searched female have a larger effect on Congress than past musicians?

John Lennon’s message of worldwide peace was stressed in his solo career with “Imagine” and “Give Peace a Chance.” Unfortunately, Lennon’s goal must have been  too broad and ambitious as the U.S. government failed to take the necessary steps toward his vision.

Aside from mankind’s primitive nature, the system that we live in has no room for idealistic ideas of peace. It literally encourages competition and greed, occasionally offering a dash of free speech.

Ultimately peace resides where Lennon was and will always be: “Strawberry Fields.”

Bob Dylan is worth a mention, but the advocate of protest songs is too controversial. And with little media exposure, the folk singer lacked any decent outlet to influence American politics. He may have inspired a social revolution, but politics and human behavior are completely different.

Dylan didn’t give a second thought to optimizing media exposure; undoubtedly the worst choice he ever made. He may have wanted to keep his image or music pure, but passing on an opportunity to change not only society, but also how it is governed, was a big mistake.

Lennon needed to set his sights a little lower. Dylan threw away a chance to speak directly to the American public. Both failed to implement constructive plans and gain popular support.

But there have been some semisuccessful attempts to awaken the masses and influence politics.

The right to assemble was up for grabs at Kent State in 1970 as students agitated National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam protest. After a tragic standoff between Ohio National Guard soldiers and students, Neil Young wrote the song, “Ohio,” which helped strengthen opposition to the Vietnam War, which President Nixon had pledged to end in 1968. However, it would be another five years until the end of the very bloody conflict.

Young was partially successful because the environment was ideal, with popular anti-war opinion waiting for a spark. All he needed to do was provide the catalyst. But today’s political environment is much different from the ’60s.

American politics has seen very few instances in history with more partisanship than there is today, causing a demand for a reliable third party.

With such a divided public, any musician planning to rally the American people should give up. In an atmosphere where any sort of political activism is in the minority, it is best to lay down the axe and fight another day.

Lady Gaga has harnessed the media to her liking and spoken out on an easily changeable policy, but she failed to consider the present political climate. American politicians have other things to worry about, such as the November elections. A little patience would have been virtuous.

It also would be advantageous to research the bill with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. The defense bill was not simply addressing that policy, but also showcased provisions on immigration and border control. No wonder Democrats and Republicans could not agree.

Musicians need to wait a for the right opportunity. Pick something small and easy to change. A little media also couldn’t hurt.

Things are tough now, but maybe one day a song will be produced or a speech will be given that will stir the souls of the American public.

Don’t hold your breath, though; you might have to wait another five years before anything gets done.