December 7, 2012 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver | HeatherForsgrenWeaver@gmail.com
James Taylor, a self-described “unapologetic liberal,” told a National Press Club Luncheon Dec. 7 that a “reasonable dialogue” with conservatives is good for the country.
“By ourselves liberals would probably steer us toward a sort of paralyzed nanny state in the European style, and Republicans left to their own would head toward oligarchy and inherited wealth and power,” he said.
Taylor, who raised nearly $10 million for the Obama presidential 2012 campaign, was in Washington for the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. He said he named his talk “election reform” because he thought he needed a title but he admitted to know little about the topic.
“The vote is sacred,” Taylor said, so Election Day should be a national holiday and the polls need to be open for a week.
He began his appearance by singing “Something in the Way She Moves” and interspersed it with crowd favorites including “Carolina in My Mind” and “Sweet Baby James.” He ended his performance with a duet with his wife, Kim, called “You Can Close Your Eyes.” He said his favorite song was “Sweet Baby James,” which was written for a nephew who is named for him.
Taylor believes it is acceptable for singers, actors and other celebrities to be involved in politics.
“If you are a really motivated, committed citizen who feels very strongly about either issues or a candidate, you get involved,” he said. “I’ve got this long history as a Yellow Dog Democrat liberal and I don’t think anyone is surprised by me. I think my Republican friends tolerate it and largely forgive me for it.”
While Taylor has been involved in politics since the 1972 McGovern presidential campaign, he does not plan to run for office.
“With my personal history, it would be a massacre,” he said.
Liberals have a difficult time getting their message out, Taylor said.
“One of the main problems that liberals have, and one of the questions that we ask ourselves so frequently is, ‘How do we communicate our message?’ It is such a good message,” he said.
The timing of the current debate about tax increases and spending cuts – known as the fiscal cliff – is “excellent,” Taylor said.
“It is remarkable that right after the election we get this thing that is right up in our faces that basically outlines in bold relief the differences of the two ideas about how we go forward in this country,” he said.
Taylor is not interested in acting, he said. “I have spent my life being myself for a living.”
While Taylor said he doesn’t like current pop music, Taylor Swift is a “creative singer-songwriter” and a “remarkable marketing phenomenon.”