In the days leading up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election, which pitted incumbent George W. Bush against Democratic hopeful John Kerry, NOFX frontman and Fat Wreck Chords founder, "Fat" Mike Burkett mobilized the punk rock community on a mission to get disenfranchised youths to polling stations.
He launched PunkVoter, a campaign which included Rock Against Bush, a two-volume compilation album featuring Bad Religion, Green Day, Ministry, Sleater Kinney, and many others, a combination concert tour and voter registration drive, and punkvoter.com, a website with a mandate to “expose the Bush Administration's incredibly bad policies" and "educate, register, and mobilize over 500,000 of today's youth as one voice."
But as America bellies up for another election, Fat Mike is taking a back seat. There's been no record compilations, no tours, no bids to register America's youth -- and if you pump the PunkVoter URL into your web browser you'll hit a dead link.
“I did my time of civil duty in an election that was very important, which we lost, and because of that the world is a worse place to live in,” Burkett now tells Huffington Post Canada. “I’m not involved in anyway, except that I’m going to vote.”
Judging by NOFX's quintessential early 90's efforts White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean and Punk in Drublic, you might assume the So-Cal punk band is more interested in partying than politics. But leading up to the 2004 election, Burkett set out to convince punk fans they could change the world by casting a ballot.
“About a year ago I decided to use my influence to get bands together to speak out about the president. I think it's our responsibility as citizens and musicians to do so. He's wrecking the country and the world,” Fat Mike told MTV in 2003. “Kids are the biggest group of people that don't vote. We want to change that.”
By all accounts, the campaign was successful. PunkVoter registered thousands of voters and contributed to the largest increase in young voter turnout since 1972. Over 20 million young people voted in 2004, a remarkable ten percent increase over the previous election.
Nevertheless, Bush defeated Kerry and left office four years later with the lowest approval rating of any outgoing American president since Gallup began polling presidential approval 75 years ago.
Now, as NOFX tours in support of its twelfth studio record, Self Entitled, Fat Mike isn't feeling compelled to get punk fans to the polls. He supports President Barrack Obama and while he chooses words such as liar, tax evader and worse to describe presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, he feels the Republican candidate has little chance of winning this election. Unless...
“The only reason [Bush won the 2004 election] is that the electronic voting machines in Ohio were fixed,” Fat Mike says. "If Obama blows this, I'll be surprised. I think this is what is going to happen: either Obama wins by a lot, or Romney cheats so bad that he steals the election.
"In that case, what am I going to do?”