Special Report: Third-Party Presidential Candidates Divided On Music-Related Issues

Jello Biafra calls for expanded arts subsidies, while Pat Buchanan decries 'rock concerts that extol lust.'

Editor's Note: This is one of three reports covering the current presidential candidates' positions on music-related issues. One examines Democratic candidates, another the Republicans; this story looks at third-party presidential hopefuls. An accompanying sidebar presents the front-running candidates' positions in graphical form.

If former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra is elected president of the United States — and he is indeed running — he plans "vastly increased subsidies for the arts," funded by taxes on the wealthy.

"Let's be generous," Biafra (born Eric Boucher) writes in his official platform. "No taxes up to $100,000; after that, it's payback time."

Biafra's stance on the arts is but one hue in the vast spectrum of opinions held by presidential candidates such as Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and Richard Bowman, all of whom are active on the fringes of the current run for the White House.

For plenty of voters, the Democratic and Republican parties are about as relevant as Neil Diamond to a Kid Rock fan. This year, the disillusioned and disenchanted have a variety of third-party candidates to choose from, ranging from ex-punk Biafra to ex-pundit Buchanan, plus plenty of other folks in between who are, arguably, even more extreme.

Predictably, their views on music and entertainment run the gamut.

(Click here to read about Democratic candidates.

Click here to read about Republican candidates.

Click here to view chart of candidates' stands on select issues.)

Biafra, who sang sarcastic leftist punk anthems such as "Kill the Poor" (RealAudio excerpt), is running for the Green Party nomination in New York. He is currently on the ballot in 30 states and is working to get on the ballot for the California primary, according to spokesperson Leif Brecke.

Biafra, who came in fourth in his 1979 bid to be mayor of San Francisco, has long been an outspoken free-speech advocate, inspired in part by the 1986 obscenity trial over artwork included with the Dead Kennedy's Frankenchrist album.

Consumer advocate and 1996 Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader has worked on free-speech coalitions with the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the ACLU. He's aiming to be listed on ballots in all 50 states. While Nader is known for his anti-corporate stances, he has not specifically addressed music issues in his campaign material.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Pat Buchanan, who's running for the Reform Party nomination, after his highly publicized defection from the Republican Party. The former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon and communications director for President Ronald Reagan says, "America is locked in a culture war," in one of his position papers.

He lists several results of the country's lack of moral resolve, including, "Rock concerts that extol lust and cop-killing." Although he does not offer specific solutions for winning the culture war, he does promise to shut down the National Endowment for the Arts.

Representatives from Nader's and Buchanan's campaigns did not return calls for comment.

In January, Buchanan received fewer votes in the Reform Party's Iowa caucus than did Robert Bowman, a 22-year Air Force veteran and former professor who also happens to be running for the nominations of the Green Party, the Socialist Party, the Libertarian Party, the Natural Law Party and several others.

A piano, sax, clarinet and guitar player, Bowman calls for "significant increases" in NEA funding, although he said the body needs to use more "common sense" in choosing projects to support.

He would, however, like to see more specific labels for violence, sexual content and explicit language on albums and other entertainment.

"I certainly don't want to have the government in the position of stifling musical creativity, ... but we do have to give parents tools to use in exercising some discretion about what their kids get involved with," Bowman said.

Too many third parties exist to detail them all in a short article. Voters interested in examining more candidates and positions will find a useful online primer at the nonpartisan Web site www.issues2000.org.