The Canadian prog-rock trio Rush has always held a special place in many libertarian hearts, largely due to drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's fondness for individualist themes (the band had an early song called "Anthem," fer chrissakes). FreedomWorks honcho Matt Kibbe became a libertarian after hearing Rush's Ayn Rand-inspired 2112. You can read a Scott Bullock (of Institute for Justice fame) interview with Peart in this 1997 edition of Liberty. The magazine whose website you are reading ran an effusive and nerdy letter praising the band—"Rush is a living example of what a group of people can do if they continually apply and uphold the principles that they believe in"—back in 1986.
So I imagine that some fans may be distressed to learn that, according to this excellent new Rolling Stone profile of the band, Peart's self-described "bleeding-heart libertarian" tendencies include automatically voting Democrat, and sending cease-and-desist letters to an allegedly racist Rand Paul:
Rush's earlier musical take on Rand, 1975's unimaginatively titled "Anthem," is more problematic [than 2112], railing against the kind of generosity that Peart now routinely practices: "Begging hands and bleeding hearts will/Only cry out for more." And "The Trees," an allegorical power ballad about maples dooming a forest by agitating for "equal rights" with lofty oaks, was strident enough to convince a young Rand Paul that he had finally found a right-wing rock band.
Peart outgrew his Ayn Rand phase years ago, and now describes himself as a "bleeding-heart libertarian," citing his trips to Africa as transformative. He claims to stand by the message of "The Trees," but other than that, his bleeding-heart side seems dominant. Peart just became a U.S. citizen, and he is unlikely to vote for Rand Paul, or any Republican. Peart says that it's "very obvious" that Paul "hates women and brown people" — and Rush sent a cease-and-desist order to get Paul to stop quoting "The Trees" in his speeches.
"For a person of my sensibility, you're only left with the Democratic party," says Peart, who also calls George W. Bush "an instrument of evil." "If you're a compassionate person at all. The whole health-care thing — denying mercy to suffering people? What? This is Christian?"
Thus proving once again that politics and music are like bourbon and vodka—generally a bad idea to mix, especially on those rare occasions when they seem to taste great together.
I care very little about the strange politics of millionaire rock stars, or the strange musical tastes of powerful politicians, though I do think Peart's wrong in everything he asserts here about Paul. And as ever, Alex Lifeson emerges as the true hero of the piece, which I encourage even my fellow non-Peart fans to read in full.