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10 political punk songs that tell the U.S. election story

November 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump as told by Rise Against, Ramones, Anti-Flag and more.

Punks and politicians have walked together hand-in-hand for as long as they’ve both existed. Whether it’s The Sex Pistols singing about the eventual fall of the U.K or a comedian’s satirical hardcore song about a candidate’s questionable grip on foreign policy, the latter has never shied away from using music as the means to deliver a message to the former.

With Americans about to hit the polls to choose their next President, we decided to pick 10 songs that explain how they got there. 

To keep things nonpartisan, here are 10 punk songs from past and present that personify both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s candidacies.

Hillary Clinton:

Rise Against – “State Of The Union”

Every year the President of the United States gives the country an update in the form of the State of the Union address. However, the Secretary of State also serves as a significant stakeholder in this announcement. Clinton served a term as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 before being followed by former Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry. This high-tempo thrasher opened Rise Against’s third album with criticisms of the wars happening in the Middle East at the time. If Clinton should become president, it will be interesting to see how she handles her addresses, especially since she has far more experience than Trump.

Anti-Flag – “The Press Corpse”

Unlike Trump, Clinton has an extensive background in politics that continues to play out in front of the press. It’s a relationship that’s had its rocky patches in the past, but has become increasingly rocky since she entered into her second ru at the Oval Office.   

Ramones – “Ignorance is Bliss”

The line repeated in this wisecracker from one of America’s most trusted punk rock outfits is a mantra that Clinton likely wishes spoke to her recurring email scandal. Thanks to Wikileaks, there is nothing Clinton can do to discredit the concerns about her private email server, which continues to plague her campaign.

Desaparecidos – “Golden Parachutes”

This tune is newer, having appeared on last year’s long-awaited sophomore album from Desaparecidos, led by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. The safety apparatus in question is government bailouts of companies deemed “too big to fail,” however, in Clinton’s case, it can be taken as a reminder of the flack that she received for choosing to give speaking engagements to big-wig executives in exchange for sizeable campaign contributions. These speeches served as one of the main arguments against Clinton expressed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders before he dropped out of the race. Talk about golden parachutes!

G.L.O.S.S – “G.L.O.S.S (We’re From The Future)”

Is there any modern band act even half as punk as Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit (G.L.O.S.S)? The Washingotn outfit has been all over the news of late after turning down a contract with punk powerhouse Epitaph records worth a reported $50,000. They disbanded after only two EPs, citing the pressures of staying true to themselves as the reason behind the decision. If there’s any common praise for Clinton, it’s that she’s never been afraid to be herself, or to wear what she wants (pantsuits…). Win or lose, Clinton has set a shining example for girls in the future.

Donald Trump:

The Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the U.K”

There’s a scene in Adam McKay’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby where a kid runs around causing mayhem and yelling, “anarchy, anarchy! I don’t even know what it means, but I love it.” It’s a safe bet that there are Trump supporters doing the same. Drop the U.K in this song title in place of the U.S and what you’re left with is an accurate description of a Trump rally, the likes of which continue to make headlines for sparking violence, racism, sexism, and ableism.  

Dead Kennedys – “Holiday in Cambodia”

It’s almost as if these San Franciscan punk legends somehow wrote this famous single in response to Trump’s campaign nearly forty years before it happened. The song speaks to rich white kids who grew up having everything handed to them, unaware of the struggles outside of their horizon; Trump was raised in a gated New York community, safely hidden away from the plights of his fellow New Yorkers, and he found success thanks to a million dollar handout from his father. Throughout his campaign, Trump has hammered home his love of vacationing in Florida on several occasions. It would be quite hilarious to see him visit a developing country.

Green Day – “Holiday”

Although frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said that he wouldn’t write a new song about Trump, he did recently alter the American Idiot track to cast a dystopian image of an America controlled by Trump. Should Trump get elected, those directives could prove an effective method for having him removed from office… just saying.

Rise Against – “Prayer of the Refugee”

Another song from Chicago’s straight-edge, environmentally friendly, and vegan crew. A major campaign goal of Trump’s is to make it a prayer to seek refuge in the United States. Specifically for Mexicans in America illegaly, who would be deported and forced to enter the country through legal means.

Just Nick – “Semi-Revolutionary”

This acoustic jam from young Bandcamp musician Just Nick drops a killer Fight Club reference and acknowledges that the system is still quite broken. It seems ironic when weighed next to Trump’s campaign, which aims to “Make America Great Again,” but appears to be less than revolutionary.  

Bonus:

These Borders Don’t Trump – “Amidst The Grave’s Demon’s”

This satirical song from YouTube comedian, Jarrod Alonge is a direct reference to Trump’s foreign policy, but the superimposed guitar playing from New Jersey Senator Chris Christie, and hardcore dancing from Clinton, are hilarious bonus additions. Leave it to the man that Future Perfect Magazine’s Kevin Loo calls “Gen Y “Weird” Al Yankovic for Warped Tour kids” to drop such a spoof.

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