“I’m not Republican,” Arlo Guthrie Says
Contacts Urban Milwaukee to discuss -- and clarify -- his politics.
Longtime folk musician Arlo Guthrie, long identified with the Hippie era, protest songs and liberal Democrats like George McGovern, wants you to know his politics have been grossly simplified by the media. He is no longer a Republican (though he was for a while) and is certainly not a supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Guthrie wrote to Urban Milwaukee in response to our column by John Sieger last week on the song “Deportee,” written by Arlo’s father Woody Guthrie and often performed by Arlo. Sieger called the song, written in 1948, a “deeply stirring” work about the plight of Mexican immigrants coming to America that “really resonates today.” Sieger linked readers to a version of the song performed by Arlo Guthrie and Hoyt Axton but lamented that Arlo had become a Republican, and may no longer be in sync with the sympathies expressed in this song.
Sieger drew his information from media reports. In 2008, Guthrie endorsed Ron Paul for president, saying “Dr. Paul is the only candidate I know of who would have signed the Constitution of The United States had he been there.”
But Guthrie, who turns 71 this year, emailed Urban Milwaukee to note he is no longer a Republican. “I left the party years ago and do not identify myself with either party these days. I strongly urge my fellow Americans to stop the current trend of guilt by association, and look beyond the party names and affiliations, and work for candidates whose policies are more closely aligned with their own, whatever they may be.”
In a follow-up email to our questions he added this: “What irked me was someone saying that I was a Republican, as if that alone meant that someone like me was supportive of the current administrations policies on immigration… That is absurd. There are many individuals in both parties (and neither party) who strongly oppose this administration’s policies, not just on immigration but a host of other issues.”
As for the idea that Guthrie’s views today are in any way at odds with the song “Deportee,” he notes that he still performs the song at his concerts and wrote a blurb for the cover of a book by Tim Hernandez, All They Will Call You, which details the lives of those immigrants who perished in the plane wreck in 1948 which inspired Woody Guthrie’s song.
“I remain deeply rooted and connected to my father’s work and have been throughout my life. I remain distrustful of authority as I have been for over 60 years. And I get ticked off when someone insinuates that belonging to either political party makes them complicit when loud mouth buffoons of either side of the aisle pretend to speak for anyone associated with them, while in fact they only speak for themselves.
“I’ve posted innumerable times on my websites and social media noting my concerns and sharing my thoughts. I don’t pretend to be right all the time, and sometimes I’ve gone so far as to change my mind from time to time.”
Guthrie expressed frustration with the Wikipedia entry on him, which details his days as a Republican, though it makes clear that during the 2016 election, Guthrie identified himself as an independent and said he was “equally suspicious of Democrats as I am of Republicans.” But he still feels the Wiki account is misleading.
“If I knew how to correct the Wiki thing I would’ve done so, but I don’t, so I haven’t,” he wrote.
Well, perhaps this story will help.