I'm from New Jersey, so I pretty much have to link to this — Bruce Springsteen's New York Times op-ed:
… for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out. …
Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."
… Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.This is going to get interesting.
Bruce Springsteen is a bigger star than John Kerry. That's significant not just in terms of celebrity and star power, but because most Americans already have a good idea who this man is and whose side he's always been on. The Rovian hate machine is going to have a hard time portraying him as an America-hating, socialist, francophile enemy of family values.
David Segal, in The Washington Post, has more details about Bruce & Co.'s entry into the fray:
Performers on the "Vote for Change Tour" will work together in several multi-artist mini-tours that will travel around the country simultaneously. Springsteen, for instance, will headline a bill with an undercard featuring R.E.M., John Fogerty and an indie band called Bright Eyes. The Dave Matthews Band, Jurassic 5 and My Morning Jacket will team up; the Dixie Chicks and James Taylor will work together; a group called Death Cab for Cutie will open for Pearl Jam; Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Keb' Mo will tour together, as will John Mellencamp and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds.
(More details on the tour here.)
The concerts themselves will have an impact, but the larger effect will be the interviews and the media buzz surrounding those concerts. This is going to get really interesting.