Culture

Willie Nelson has three words for country fans who can’t stand that he’s supporting a Democrat.

by Tod Perry

September 20, 2018
Image by Photo by Beto O'Rourke/Flickr and joshbg2k/Flickr

Willie Nelson is an 85-year-old American music icon and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. And why should he?

He wrote this …

and this …

and spends a lot of time smoking this …

 

But Nelson is taking some heat from conservative country music fans in Texas who can’t understand why he is performing a fundraising concert for a Democrat. On September 29, Nelson is headlining an event in Austin to raise money for Beto O’Rourke’s senatorial campaign against incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz.

A 2004 Gallup survey found nearly 60% of country fans identify more strongly with Republicans, compared with 11% who identify as liberal.

Country music fans shouldn’t be shocked about Nelson’s politics. The “On the Road Again” singer has a long history of supporting Democratic politicians, including Jimmy Carter’s 1980 presidential bid and wrote an anti-Trump song in 2017.

Some country fans are enraged by Nelson’s decision.

On Tuesday, September 18, Nelson appeared on ABC’s “The View” to discuss his support for O’Rourke. “Are you  getting a lot of flack and how are you dealing with it?” Joy Behar asked. “Oh, I love flack,” Nelson joked. “We’re not happy ‘til they’re not happy.”

Nelson was unequivocal on his beliefs. “I’ve been supporting Democrats all my life,” he said. When asked if he cared that fans have an issue with his performance at the O’Rourke fundraiser, Nelson said plainly, “I don’t care.”


O’Rourke has become a national figure over the past few months for running a shockingly successful campaign against sitting senator Ted Cruz.

Texas hasn’t had a Democratic senator in 25 years, and O’Rourke has more than a fighting chance at bucking the trend. 

An Ipsos online poll released September 19 put O’Rourke up 47% - 45% among likely voters. While a Quinnipiac University poll released a day before had Cruz up 54% to 45%.

The inconsistent poll numbers could be because pollsters haven’t paid much attention to Texas in recent years due to GOP dominance. 

“Texas is a tough state to poll (lots of new residents, low turnout among certain voting groups, may be hard to reach Spanish-speaking voters),” Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight, said on Twitter. “It’s probably a healthy sign that we’re seeing some disagreement.”

That disagreement is fine with Willie Nelson. 

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Willie Nelson has three words for country fans who can’t stand that he’s supporting a Democrat.