Dierks Bentley, who considers himself an “independent,” told CNN that while touring the country he has seen first hand the sense of disenfranchisement, anger and frustration that have defined 2016 politics and fueled the rise of billionaire business mogul Donald Trump.
The country music star, who released his 8th studio album “Black” last week, said the album is named after his wife Cassidy Black’s maiden name and explores “the darker corridors and the good stuff” when it comes to love, life and relationships. It includes songs like “Black” and a duet with Elle King, “Different for Girls.”
The album’s first single, “Somewhere on a Beach” topped the Billboard country music charts at number 1, and Bentley kicked off his 2016 “Somewhere on a Beach Tour” last week, where he will continue connecting with fans from diverse regions of America.
“Most of my read on America is through looking through the front windshield of a bus and hanging out with country music fans backstage,” Bentley said. “The biggest thing I pick up on is the lack of manufacturing jobs. The lack of just jobs.”
Bentley said that for many country music fans who have lost their jobs, their pensions and their sense of security, the presumptive Republican nominee’s message of bringing jobs back to America from countries like China and Mexico resonates with them.
Trump has made this issue a cornerstone of his campaign, vowing to reverse China’s “assault on America’s jobs and wealth.”
“Once I had kids, I started looking around at where this stuff comes from and it all comes from China,” Bentley said, adding, “We don’t really make anything here anymore.”
The “Somewhere on a Beach” singer said that while he doesn’t know whether presumptive Republican nominee or Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton have the “best” ideas to resolve the issue, but he adds the need for jobs is real and “that’s why a lot of people gravitate towards the message of bringing our jobs back.”
Supporting America’s veterans and their families is one issue that is close to Bentley’s heart and he said that while many Americans struggle to find jobs, veterans face an even steeper challenge as they often come home battling physical and emotional wounds.
Throughout his career Bentley has been a strong supporter of the military and has performed at charity events to raise funds for veterans. He also worked with organizations like “Folds of Honor,” which raises money to send the children of wounded and deceased soldiers to college.
We owe a “debt of gratitude to those folks and their families,” Bentley said, adding that “any returning soldier should get the best medical treatment they can get.”
The Nashville-based musician said that while the VA is a necessary and important institution, VA centers and hospitals around the country are underfunded and understaffed.
“There’s a a lot paperwork, a lot red tape and a lot of logistics that go into anything that involves the government,” Bentley said, adding, “I’m not a policy maker and I don’t even know how you begin to even tackle such a problem but you definitely need someone who understands it.”
Bentley said that many people are disillusioned when it comes to Washington politics and members of Congress need to remember that they are elected to work for the people — not to be “celebrities.”
“People are gravitating towards Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders because they are doing their own thing,” Bentley said. “I think people are trying to cut out the middle man and just get to the source and get away from Washington politics.”