For years, Pete Wentz considered himself to be like a lot of young voters — "liberal" but "apolitical," as he puts it. He admits to having had a difficult time differentiating between a Republican and a Democrat, and said there was no one he could truly see himself voting for. Well ... that's not completely true.
"To find a candidate that I completely agreed with, I'd have to run myself," he laughed, when asked about his former attitude. "And I'm not sure people would be ready for tax-free ice cream and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage as the Secretary of State."
Hey, Macho would probably do as good a job as anybody. But that statement pretty much summed up Wentz's political outlook in recent years, until he started touring the world with Fall Out Boy and saw the way our current administration — and Americans — are thought of in other countries. And he knew that perhaps something needed to change ... which is where Barack Obama — for whom Wentz is co-hosting a low-cost fundraiser in Chicago on Tuesday — comes into the picture.
"I find Obama to be an electrifying candidate," Wentz said of the junior senator from Fall Out Boy's home state, Illinois. "His perspective is fresh, [and] he's said that he would meet diplomatically with almost any world leader, which, in my opinion, would greatly change the rest of the world's view of the United States. I said for a long time that I didn't think there was much of a difference between parties or candidates, and then I sat through the last eight years and promised myself I would never think that way again."
And so he started to pay more attention to the 2008 election, and having discussions about Obama with FOB frontman Patrick Stump. Both of them decided that perhaps they could use the band's celebrity to help out the Democratic senator's campaign in some way ... which is where the idea of a fundraiser was born.
"If we had the speeches or the momentum of Obama supporter Oprah, we'd probably have done something else," Wentz explained. "But given that many fans of ours are under the age of 18, we decided that convincing their parents to get involved monetarily, or by canvassing neighborhoods, is probably the best."
So after contacting Obama's campaign — "They were slightly wary of having someone like me involved, but they 'vetted' me, which was pretty intense," the FOB bassist laughed — Wentz got the OK to hold a fundraiser. So on Tuesday, he'll co-host an event, along with Illinois State Representative Sara Feigenholtz, at Chicago's Lakeview Broadcasting Company to raise money for Obama for America. A $75 donation gets you in the door, plus a limited-edition Obama T-shirt designed by Wentz's Clandestine Industries.
"To me, the goal of the event is to expose Obama to people who may have misconceptions about him. For example, someone on our Web site said, 'I heard if he's elected, he's going to bomb the Middle East,' and I was like, 'Uh, no ... that's what our [current] president did,' " Wentz said. "I'm not interested in shoving anything down anyone's throat — I just think young voters need to know this is one of the most important elections in years. The next few presidents will probably control the Supreme Court, which could change many things that we have taken for granted."
The fundraiser is open to everyone, even those too young to vote, a move Wentz hopes will help young people develop an understanding for not only the candidate but the entire political process. And while he's tight-lipped about just what attendees can expect — Fall Out Boy won't be performing, but Wentz and perhaps Stump will be DJing, and other members of the Decaydance Records family will make appearances. But most importantly, will Obama himself show up? Wentz, in all honesty, can't say.
"I'm not sure if Barack will be there," he said. "He seems even more busy than Panic at the Disco lately."