When it comes to music, country superstar Dwight Yoakam has been described as a modern traditionalist -- combining a modern sensibility with older honky-tonk and hillbilly musical styles.
The same "modern traditionalist" label could be applied to his politics. When it comes to government, Yoakam says he supports "libertarianism, the pure Jeffersonian ideal." (That's Jeffersonian as in Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.)
The country music legend first publicly revealed his libertarian beliefs in a 1994 interview with journalist Jimmy Guterman. In a discussion about artists who make commercial endorsements, Yoakam said, "I believe in liberty. I'm a libertarian... That's Jeffersonian, my friend."
Elaborating on that statement, Yoakam said, "We have criminalized common citizens in this country for not complying with rules from parasitic bureaucrats, be it mandatory insurance or whatever. The whole journey we're on is about self-determination and responsibility. They think if we give up liberty, we'll get a Utopia... Ultimately, there's going to be a great, rude awakening for those who try to control others."
In an August 20, 1999 interview with the New York Post, the Grammy Award-winning singer reiterated his support for "libertarianism, the pure Jeffersonian ideal." In fact, Yoakam said, his political views could be summed up in one sentence: "We are responsible for our actions." Yoakam said he doesn't usually discuss politics because he doesn't want to "impose my political views on other people." However, he said, the United States should "consider taking that road less traveled with less government. I'm not an active member of the Libertarian Party, but I do think there is room for their concepts in our experiment in democracy."
Yoakam's thoughtful comments about politics weren't a surprise to people who know his background; he briefly studied philosophy and history at Ohio State University. However, in 1986, he put down his textbooks to pick up a guitar and record his first album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. Yoakam's blend of old and new country styles quickly earned him praise. CountryStars.com said the singer created a "unique weaving of traditional and modern sensibilities," while Playboy said he "successfully updated country's sound...while remaining true to its populist ideals."
Yoakam's better-known albums include Just Lookin' for a Hit (1989), This Time (1993), Under the Covers (1997), Last Chance for a Thousand Years: Dwight Yoakam's Greatest Hits from the 90's (1999), and The Very Best of Dwight Yoakam (2004). His 2000 box set, Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Bros. Years, showed his versatility with cover versions of songs from Queen, Cheap Trick, ZZ Top, and The Clash.
In 1986, Yoakam won an ACM New Male Vocalist Award and, in 1993, a Grammy Award for best male Country Music Vocal Performance. Over the years, he hit #1 on the country charts with "I Sing Dixie," "The Streets of Bakersfield," and "Ain't That Lonely Yet." In 2004, his song "Guitars, Cadillacs" placed at #45 on Country Music Television's list of Top 100 Country Songs of all time.
In 1992, Yoakam made the jump to the big screen as an actor. That year, he appeared in the movie Red Rock West, followed by Sling Blade (1996), The Newton Boys (1998), South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000), Panic Room (2002), and Hollywood Homicide (2003).
"I believe in liberty. I'm a libertarian." -- Dwight Yoakam in a 1994 interview on http://guterman.com.