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Ben Harper visits Grinnell on Clinton campaign trail

Ben Harper sings “Diamonds on the Inside” at Grinnell’s own Saints Rest while campaigning for Hillary. Contributed photo.
Ben Harper sings "Diamonds on the Inside" at Grinnell's own Saints Rest while campaigning for Hillary. Contributed photo.
Ben Harper sings “Diamonds on the Inside” at Grinnell’s own Saints Rest while campaigning for Hillary. Contributed photo.

Listen to the audio of The S&B’s interview with Ben Harper here.

Three time Grammy award-winning musician Ben Harper has been busy campaigning for Hillary Clinton throughout the country. On Thursday Nov. 3 at 12:45 p.m., Harper came to Grinnell’s very own Saints Rest to share why he’s voting for Secretary Clinton and perform his award-winning music. Before arriving, Harper chatted with The S&B’s Features Editor Lily Bohlke and KDIC radio to talk about why he’s campaigning for Clinton.

The S&B: Hi, Ben, welcome, it’s great to talk to you.

Ben Harper: Thanks so much. I’d rather be there in person but I guess this will have to suffice for now. Thank you for having me on.

The S&B: What brings you to Iowa and specifically to Grinnell tomorrow?

BH: I’m here in support of Secretary Clinton.

The S&B: What have you been doing and where else have you been in support of her?

BH: I have been to Pennsylvania and I have been to North Carolina and I’ve been all over the country, this year, on my own, outside of the campaign trail in support of her.

The S&B: Why Hillary? What are some of the main reasons you think it’s really important to vote for her?

BH: I could over talk that point to where you would have to interrupt me and end the interview because I would go on for so long. But as Secretary of State, her clear, unwavering commitment to the environment, that on one side of the spectrum all the way to the other which is, in my opinion, her international diplomacy and her command of international politics. We haven’t seen the likes of this in a president, or a prospective president, in a hundred years.

The S&B: Yeah, she seems to be very qualified. But there has been in the news some controversial things about her emails and stuff like that. What is your reaction to that? What do you think voters should think in regards to those?

BH: I can’t tell other voters what to think or who to vote for. I’d never be that glib. It’s important for me to note that I think if this were a man, and all that people had on him were an email server, we would have dropped the issue months ago. I think it’s rampant sexism in my opinion. Not to mention, the timing of Comey. If anyone who knows the historical reality of the FBI would recognize it’s a branch of the GOP and a boy’s club from way back. If you research HUAC COINTELPRO, if this isn’t strategy, then he’s not a good FBI director.

The S&B: Besides for that, what have been some of the responses from voters you’ve talked to while on this journey through the country?

BH: It’s been fascinating and I’ve talked to people on both sides of the aisle, tried not to overstate my points. I’ll always have friends from different walks of life who have vastly different political perspectives from me, and there’s been very smart, passionate discourse. How about you? What have you found in talking to people? I’m very curious.

The S&B: At Grinnell in particular, people have seemed to be in support of her. People also talk a lot about what you said about how a lot of this stuff about the emails comes from the fact that Hillary’s a woman. You can kind of see on the other side of things how some of the things people try to brush off about Trump are way more serious than any of this. So I think a lot of us at Grinnell are in agreement with you on that front.

BH: Interesting. I mean, I’ve been in sports all my life, especially in my younger days. And to try to brush off what he said as locker room talk — if myself or any male had heard a man use that kind of dialogue in a locker room, there would have been a fight. I’ve never heard, I’ve been in locker rooms all through high school, playing sports, numerous sports, and I never heard anybody talk like that, ever. If that had been a Democrat, if a Democrat said that, they’d be out of the race. They’d be gone, as a matter of fact, they’d be banished from politics permanently, which goes to represent how desperate the GOP is for anyone. It may even signal the end of the GOP to be quite frank. And hopefully it will open it up to a third party system in the future, of course, with our luck it’ll be even further to the right.

The S&B: As a musician, have you ever delved into politics like this before?

BH: My entire adult life and earlier. Every other conversation growing up in my household was political. My grandparents, my parents, I was raised with that as something — not as much politics, but social progress and of course politics are interwoven into that conversation.

The S&B: How has that kind of environment influenced your music?

BH: I think throughout the years of putting out music, records, songs, it’s always found its way into the lyrical content from day one to now. I’m not blind enough to think that a song can hit a magic switch or wave a magic wand but I’m also not naïve enough to think it does nothing either. I mean it’s a voice in the choir. Social progress isn’t a spectator sport.

The S&B: My last question is, what are your plans for after the election?

BH: Hopefully to celebrate a Hillary Clinton victory. I’m in Iowa now with my mom and my daughter in support of Hillary and it’s great, it’s a very proud moment — and my wife, excuse me. It’s a great moment for all of us. Even, you know, no matter what happens, at least we’re here and being a part of contributing to our own history. And also, lastly, I think it’s important, Mr. Trump should run for governor, he should, nobody should build a house from the top down. There’s a reason that being rich doesn’t qualify you for having political experience, and that’s why Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, they don’t run for president, you’ve got to start by being governor of a state or possibly mayor of a city or town, or run for head of your child’s PTA. But you’ve got to start to build the house from the ground up. There’s just no second candidate. Hillary’s the only choice in this race for me.

The S&B: Are there any final things you’d like to say to listeners?

BH: I just appreciate you having me on air. My mom says go vote, my wife and my mom and my daughter, say everybody go vote. That’s for sure. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. And God knows we love to complain.


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