Carlos Santana wants to make a T-shirt for Donald Trump that says “You lost. You just don’t know it.” But he’s also hopeful that peace and perspective will reign once the smoke clears from this year’s heated presidential campaign.
“I like to believe that Hillary Clinton will invite women from other parts of the world — Africa, American Indian — and hold councils for them to tell her gently, soulfully and with wisdom, how to make this country great,” he tells Billboard. “A lot of people do look to us — maybe not up to us but they do look to us because America is an incredible social experiment. It’s a beautiful melting pot, and for us to make it victorious and triumphant and successful we need to have equality, fairness and justice, with each person treated with royalty and with integrity and compassion. That doesn’t exist as we speak right now — it’s fragmented fear.”
Santana does find some value in the Trump campaign, however. “It’s like when you distil something and you put the bottle at a certain angle so all the impurities go down to the bottom,” the guitarist explains. “He’s helping us see that there’s still some people in America that want whites for whites only — all Mexicans leave, Jewish people leave, black people live. There’s still the Nazi and the Ku Klux Klan element in there. They’ve been there and they’ve been very vocal about it. That’s not what America is. Can you imagine a Woodstock where it’s only white people? But that’s what they’re trying to sell us.”
A San Francisco Bay Area resident, Santana is also supportive of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his controversial choice to kneel during the National Anthem to protest police killings of black people. “I love it. I think he stepped up. I salute my brother because it takes a lot of balls to go against people who will say, ‘Oh, you’re not patriotic’ and all that,” Santana says. “You can’t salute a flag that is blind to so many black and brown people being killed without a trial. The beautiful thing about living in America is you have to question authority if it’s not enlightened by God. You think America’s enlightened when we carry on shooting every day and just say ‘Eh…’ If America is enlightened by God, then we can’t be blind to equality, fairness and justice. And there’s no equality, fairness and justice until every police [officer] that shoots another person today or tomorrow is accountable. And when you kill a brother or a sister, black or brown, and you get paid leave, it’s like they’re rewarding you for shooting somebody, y’know? Something needs to change.
“So for [Kaepernick] to put one knee down and other people are copying him, I think it’s wonderful.”
Santana proudly continues to subscribe to “the hippie principle — peace, love and harmony.” And he doesn’t brook any argument that musicians should stay out of political or social issues.
“This is part of music because music is about harmony and unity — otherwise it’s noise,” he explains. “I am John Lennon. I am Bob Marley. I think musicians and artists should be the spokesmen, with wisdom and gentleness and clarity, about how we can all achieve the highest good for everyone. What I want is the same thing that John Lennon and Bob Marley wanted — beauty, grace, equality, fairness and justice. That’s the world the Doors wanted and the Beatles wanted and Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye. So if we can help accelerate and bring it, then it’s our duty to speak out against injustice and against inequality and unfairness.”