The National is a rock band that has many fans all over the world. Naturally, those fans are curious about the members of The National, including their political affiliation, since some of their songs seem political. But are the band The National liberals?
Here’s what I know from being a fan and seeing them perform:
The National are very liberal in their political views. This is based on the causes and political candidates they have supported in the past. This includes performing for former President Obama a few times during his campaigns and allowing the use of their songs to be associated with him.
The band has not strayed away from being passionate about its beliefs. However, they try to do this without alienating any of the fans.
I took a look into the public political life of The National to examine not only their beliefs but also how those beliefs have influenced their music. And we’ll get into the true meaning of some of their songs that seem overly political.
Let’s get into it!
The National’s (@TheNational) band members Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner delve into their ambitious new collaborative work with filmmaker Mike Mills via @pitchfork.https://t.co/ADQRQfMvIx pic.twitter.com/GphllueNvE
— 4AD (@4AD_Official) May 17, 2019
Is the band The National involved in politics?
The band The National is involved in politics and openly supported former President Obama’s elections. But the members do not want to be called a political band.
The National has become involved in politics over the last several years.
They have done so in a way that still allows them to be musicians first. One of their most high-profile political moves was supporting then Presidential Candidate Barack Obama for his first bid as president of the United States.
Since then, the band has spoken in interviews about politics.
For example, in 2017, Matt Berninger told The Atlantic about the results of the 2016 presidential election:
“When Trump won, it felt like the sky changed color a little bit, and literally that’s what’s happening right now as we speak. It’s pretty creepy.”
The Nationals came face to face with the people.
Besides simply supporting Obama in interviews, The Nationals got up close and personal with voters. The band went to various college campuses to help register students to vote.
This went beyond supporting one candidate, but it got people involved in the political process.
10 years ago today: I covered my first major political rally (Obama came to UW-Madison ahead of the midterms) and I first heard this up-and-coming indie band called The National pic.twitter.com/QSlwexoAwi
— Adam Wollner (@AdamWollner) October 10, 2020
Did The National perform for President Obama?
The National has performed at Obama events on a few occasions, but they did not perform at either of his two inaugurations.
In their support of Obama for President during his first run, The National appeared at a number of events.
They performed at many of these events. This was usually before he spoke. The band also did this during the 2010 midterm elections.
When most people think of artists who performed for a president, they consider it in a more formal sense. They have not performed for Obama in this context, but they have performed in his presence a few times.
Does Obama listen to The National?
The National sat down with Vice for an interview back in 2012.
They spoke about their support for then-president Barack Obama. The band also said that they were unsure if he has ever even listened to their music.
Watching “Fake Empire” from The National’s sublime gig @atnfestival last night. 🎪👏
Enchanting guest vocals from Pauline de Lassus (aka @MinaTindle), @LisaHannigan & Eve Owens#atn19 #TheNational pic.twitter.com/baHTjNvLvT
— PlaylistGuy (@PlaylistGuy) August 5, 2019
What is The National song Fake Empire about?
The National song Fake Empire is a song about not wanting to think about politics. While not recorded for a political campaign, the song was used with permission by President Obama during his first campaign.
Matt Berninger stated that in an interview with Vice.
The singer in the song longs for simpler times where he can focus on things like apple pie. He doesn’t feel that it’s his job to have to consider the difficult questions.
The song was used for a presidential ad.
The song went on to be used in the Obama campaign for his first election. It was used in a series of short ads. The band also performed the song for Obama events during that time.
The song was an uplifting critique.
The National stated that they believe the song was chosen because of its uplifting nature.
Yes, the song is a critique of how the country works but is still inspiring for listeners. It should be noted that the song speared on their album, Boxer, and was not recorded specifically for the campaign.
Many believe that The National’s #England is about writer’s block, and the pressure that @Mattberninger and @aaron_dessner feel to provide new albums. It all harks back to the line “The English are waiting” in ‘Mr. November’. The band’s record label is @4AD_Official from London. pic.twitter.com/qLkUfA8Iih
— The Extreme Music Enthusiast (@TheExtremeMusi1) March 28, 2021
What was The National Song Mr. November about?
The National song Mr. November is partly about anxiety and depression leading up to the election involving John Kerry in 2004. But the band also printed t-shirts with Obama’s image and the title Mr. November in 2008.
The band has spoken about the song “Mr. November” and what it means.
For them, the song is about the anxiety leading up to the 2004 United States election for president. Not only this, but it is also about the fears of finishing an album.
They have stated that this was a very difficult time for them. As artists finishing up a record, they didn’t know what to expect from fans. This is a huge undertaking for any artist.
T-Shirts with Obama’s face on them?
The song Mr. November also became a hopeful song supporting Obama. In 2008, the group made t-shirts with the now-former president’s face on them.
It appeared above the title of the song on the shirts.
Local Indie band The National wins Grammy for best alternative album https://t.co/NLso117WjM pic.twitter.com/mbkEH8IbPq
— Enquirer (@Enquirer) January 29, 2018
Why are The National called The National?
The National chose their band name as the band wanted a name that did not mean anything. The name is not related to politics or the country.
Many fans have wondered where The National got its name. Given their political involvement, is it related to politics? The answer is no.
The name, The National, means nothing.
The band members have spoken about how they wanted a name that was devoid of meaning. They wanted something that wasn’t super clear. Their name does not lead to any natural interpretations of their music.
The goal of The National has always been to make music.
Their desire to have a name that meant nothing illustrates this. This means that they want their music to be for as many people as possible.
Also, having a name devoid of meaning gives them a blank slate.
This allows them to create without preconceived notions. The National is not type-cast based on their name since their name is so general.
And Obama isn’t their only collaboration.
Despite being the darlings of the underground indie scene, The National has collaborated extensively with Taylor Swift on both of her 2020 albums.
Check out this recent article to find out just how deep the collaboration goes, how these 2 unlikely camps got together, and what their future plans are.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
The National has been around since 1999 and has made an invaluable mark.
Despite getting involved in politics, they have done a great job of not becoming a political band. Fans know their beliefs, but everyone can listen to the music.
The band has supported Barack Obama in the past.
The group spoke highly of the former president and what he stood for. One of their songs was even used for his campaign.
The National is an example of how an artist or band can be political without going overboard. Music lovers of all beliefs can enjoy their music.
Of course, they also collaborated with Taylor Swift, also a strong proponent of liberal politics. So while surprising from a musical standpoint, it’s not surprising the 2 came together given they do share a strong love of political ideologies.
Photos that require attribution:
The National by ashton and Mr. November by Jean-Marc Courtiade are licensed under CC2.0 and were cropped, edited, merged, and had a text overlay added.