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Pissed Off Voters

The Anti-Politics, Un-Boring Guide to Power
Edited by Adrienne Marie Brown & William Upski Wimsatt
Soft Skull

What does this book have to do with music? About as much as your life. Though he takes second billing, its mastermind is retired hip-hop journalist William Upski Wimsatt, who self-published the thinking wigger's hip-hop manifesto Bomb the Suburbs in 1993 and followed up with the issue-specific No More Prisons in 1999. Wimsatt shouts out to über-editing Source co-founder James Bernard, and correctly identifies the "hip-hop, punk, spoken-word, and rave scenes" as constituents of the "choir"--"people who are connected to some identifiable movement, network, issue, or organization"--he knows he's preaching to. This choir alone, he argues, is big enough to tip the balance in 2004. He's been saved, sisters and brothers, and he wants his whole world to know about it.

Though pub date came too early to name him, the Jesus who's just all right with Wimsatt is whoever the Dems run for president. The most powerful parts of this tract, a must-read-now for any Bush-hater under 30 that's heartening for 62-year-olds as well, are Wimsatt's punchy, lucid, visionary introduction and conclusion, which add up to a historically grounded argument for the long-term involvement of young progressives in the two-party system. He calls his umbrella organization the League of Pissed-Off Voters. The analogy with the conservative 30-year plan that saddled America with Reagan and the Bushes isn't as airtight as he hopes, but like John Kerry, it's the best chance we got. And the tales of electoral triumph and issues struggled over that fill out the story, most of them unknown outside a small circle of believers, are inspirational--and for the most part as un-boring as the subtitle says.

Wimsatt claims that if enough people read this book, Bush will lose. It's worth the investment to find out.

Village Voice, Aug. 10, 2004