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Times Leader (PA)

Political nirvana

by Dan Weller

Book: "Of Grunge & Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy!"

Author: Krist Novoselic

Publisher: RDV Books

Krist Novoselic is best known for his turn as bassist of the seminal grunge band Nirvana. But what most people don't know is that he's been active for the last decade since the culmination of Nirvana; not musically, necessarily, but politically.

While Nirvana was known to put their support behind social causes from time to time, they weren't outspoken about their political beliefs to the point where people considered them a "political band." Novoselic, on this own time, has taken a much more active role, both locally (he still resides in Washington) and nationally.

In "Of Grunge & Government," Novoselic approaches his agenda from a very positive, optimistic point of view. Rather than listing a barrage of reasons why he feels our government is not working, he spends these 100-plus pages delineating methods for making it work to everyone's benefit. Novoselic says it well during a passage regarding the pitfalls of cynicism: "The positive ideal holds an appealing dignity. Why kick around the argument of being against censorship when you can advocate for freedom of expression? Why disparage violence when you can promote peace? Essentially the positive ideal is about advancing possibilities."

While Novoselic does admit to being a registered Democrat Ðsurprising for him to take pride in one of the two major parties when he was once a member of a band that most considered either anti-establishment or apathetic spokesmen for Generation XÐ he remains ardently non-partisan throughout. He breaks his ideas for reformation down to their simplest and continually encourages participation in all forms of democracy, from school board meetings to state and national elections.

This simplicity makes Novoselic's book perfect for, and perhaps even aimed at, the youth of the nation. He's speaking to those who have just come of voting age and may not know what to do with their newfound responsibility. "Of Grunge and Government" can even be viewed as a primer for pre-voters, those not yet of age to take part in the electoral process, but who nonetheless should be educated about the reality of our system, in preparation for the day when they can knowledgeably participate.

Novoselic stresses his desire for electoral reform, not governmental overhaul. He is not in favor of overthrowing the system, but rather using it for fair representation of all of the country's citizens, the basic tenet of democracy to begin with. His aim is to stamp out disenfranchisement and apathy, and Krist demonstrates that he will not let the negativity which pervades today's political environment dampen his spirited call for change.

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