From “Born in the USA” (CNN) onward, American election cycles have only ever had one consistent narrative: that of the Republican presidential candidate fucking up and playing a song by a publicly leftist musician at one of their rallies. Tom Petty and John Mellencamp (Rolling Stone) have been on the receiving end, as has The Boss, and every time the lingering embarrassment (because, while the actual accomplishments of his presidency are subject to debate, it is indisputable that Reagan somehow fucked up at understanding a Bruce Springsteen song) could have been avoided if maybe someone in the campaign just asked first and got the response, “We hate your ideology and policy ideas, so no.”

It’s pretty easy to understand why! The kind of populism espoused by Springsteen and his ilk – the difficulties of the working class, the hopes and dreams of the youth of rural and dying-urban America, the value of collectivism and “we’re-all-in-this-crapheap-together” communal spirit – is only one strain of leftist thought commonly espoused in music. This is because people interested in forward-thinking culture, self-expression, and the like tend to like social and political policies that make those things possible, and so tend to be leftist before they even get into music, and then write a bunch of leftist music, and you can kind of see how this goes.

That conservatives who enjoy Springsteen-esque roots-rock are at odds with their musical idols’ politics is, one would hope, a fact that those conservatives who are fans of the band have thought about and simply made peace with, because it’s hard to begrudge someone for thinking Bruce Springsteen is a pretty good songwriter. But it’s surely not a surprise. Right?

So why do Democrats seem to get more free passes then Republicans?


“Musicians are part of the entertainment industry which is mostly anti-Republican. So lefty performers hate having conservatives use their music,” says Vice President of the Business & Media Institute and political commentator, Dan Gainor. “There’s definitely a PR component to complaining about politicians using your music. If you have a hardcore lefty base of listeners and you bash Michele Bachmann, then you score points. Imagine if a liberal tried to use Toby Keith’s ‘Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue.’ Keith and his fans would rightly be upset. But that never happens since liberals don’t like images of the flag.”

Hahaha, yes, keep deluding yourself. (Huffington Post) Toby Keith hates liberals and liberals hate America.

[Romney attorney Larry] Iser disgarees.

Yeah, I mean, it’s patently obvious, right? These dudes actively do not want Republican presidents. They play at Democrat rallies and stuff. Glad you got my back, Larry.

“I would say certainly in recent years, there’s been a greater unlicensed use of songs by Republican candidates,” Iser, said. “The point that the musician is making is not about the [political] party. The position they’re taking is: This is what we do for a living, we are protected by copyright, and if you’re running for election, you need to respect the law. It just is a coincidence really, simple as that.”

Iser stresses that when it comes to music and campaigns, artists and songwriters only want to protect their intellectual property rights and ensure that they aren’t involuntary endorsers of candidates and campaign messages.

Well, on the plus side, we’re maybe one election campaign for a Fugazi reunion spurred on exclusively because John Huntsman starts using “The Argument” as background music. (Fox News)