Connecticut artists urge voters to come out

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - As Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z and Beyonce campaign for Barack Obama in swing states, Connecticut performing and visual artists are reaching out to voters here where a close race could determine control of the U. S. Senate.

Over 50 progressive artists issued a call to action this week expressing outrage at voter suppression efforts across the country. "To counter this attack on our democracy, we urge you to make your voice heard. Please help as many people as you can to register and vote - for yourself, and for everyone you love," the statement concludes.

"As artists concerned about our families, communities, and country we stand together with those grass roots and political leaders who want to make this a better world for everyone, not just the top 1%.  As artists we intend to dedicate our talents to the cause of the 99%," the artists say.

When the Progressive Artists Committee first met a month ago, they initiated the call in response to the urgency of the elections. A diverse and growing group of artists representing various communities has signed on.

One of those artists, Bill Collins, was just completing a new song, "Pushing Back Against Linda's Lies," dedicated to exposing the tea-party Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

The lyrics take on Linda McMahon's makeover for this election. Like Mitt Romney, she is pretending to be the opposite of what her program represents.

"Linda McMahon is lying and buying to win this election. This song calls her out on it" says Collins.

Collins performed the song with retirees in front of McMahon's campaign headquarters protesting a remark that she would "sunset Social Security." Collins also led a lively group performance outside the final debate between McMahon and Democratic candidate Chris Murphy.

"Pushing Back Against Linda's Lies," performed by Bill Collins and the Testifiers can be viewed on-line in a 50's version and a gospel version.

While the race remains very close, Murphy pulled ahead in the polls this week as canvassing and phone banks provide the opportunity to discuss the issues with voters.

McMahon, who build her fortune selling sex and violence on the World Wrestling Entertainment channel, professes to care about workers and women. The wrestlers worked as "contractors" without benefits or insurance. She would also maintain the Bush era tax cuts for the rich, netting herself $7 million. She has spent a record $77 million of her own money on her two campaigns to win the Senate seat, including saturating television advertising with personal attacks against Chris Murphy.

Chris Murphy was first elected to Congress in 2006 representing the 5th Congressional District. He became a leader for health care, manufacturing jobs and clean energy. He opposed elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood. He has the support of the entire labor movement which has been campaigning hard for him, as well as environmental and women's organizations.

The full text of the artists' call to action follows:

Progressive Artists Call To Action

We the undersigned artists from Connecticut feel compelled to raise our voices as this crucial election approaches. The control of the U.S. Senate and the direction of our country are at stake.

Were we to paint a portrait of - or write a song about - our country at the present time, it would reveal two distinct visions: people working together vs. every person for him or herself.

Are we going to come together as a community, and as a country, to find creative solutions to poverty and income disparity, racism, homelessness, climate change, injustice at home and violence abroad? Or will our society become a "survival of the fittest" where each individual is left on his or her own?

As artists concerned about our families, communities, and country we stand together with those grass roots and political leaders who want to make this a better world for everyone, not just the top 1%.  As artists we intend to dedicate our talents to the cause of the 99%.

We are outraged that a huge voter suppression campaign is underway that could block millions from exercising their democratic right to vote. To counter this attack on our democracy, we urge you to make your voice heard. Please help as many people as you can to register and vote - for yourself, and for everyone you love.

Signed:

Ken Blackwell, Will Bartlett, Baub Bidon, Lydia Bornick, Cate Bourke, Warren Byrd. David Chevan, Bill Collins, Martina Crouch, Kendra Dawsey, Gabe DeLeon, Asher Delerme,  David Douglas, David Elkin-Ginnetti, Edie Fishman, Jeff Fuller, Vanessa Glenn,  David Gorin, Bob Gorry, Yonadav Greenwood, Justin Haaheim, Paul Hammer, Dan Hansen, Orlando Hernández, Richard Hill, Aaron Jafferis, Martha Jane Kaufman, Ava Kofman, Sherman Malone, Joseph A. McWilliams, Isabella Mendes, Jeff McQuillan, Pamela Nomura, Larissa Pham, Stacy Phillips, Chris Randall, Kenneth Reveiz, Laura Richling, Justin Taylor, Sophie Tong, Daniel Vieira, David Yih, The People's Arts Collective of New Haven, the cast of CHILD, Free2Spit: Lisa Bergmann, Isabel M. Carillo, Kevin Edwards, Eyra Feliciano, Tawana Galberth, Joshua Kosloski, Nick, J. Simone, Heidi Williams, Robin Williams

Photo: Bill Collins performing at rally in front of Linda McMahon's North Haven office to protect Social Security. Art Perlo/PW

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