As promised last week, it’s now time to examine President Barack Obama’s use of music in his campaign.
|Bruce Springsteen and Barack Obama|
As the incumbent, the President had already built a base of celebrity supporters from the 2008 election. One of these was Bruce Springsteen, who wanted his political career to be short. He told the New Yorker, “It seemed like if I was ever going to spend whatever small political capital I had, that was the moment to do so. But that capital diminishes the more often you do it. While I’m not saying never, and I still like to support the President, you know, it’s something I didn’t do for a long time, and I don’t have plans to be out there every time.”
Clearly The Boss is again worried for the future of the country because he’s agreed to do two rallies tomorrow in Ohio and Iowa.
But Springsteen’s point of having a limited amount of political clout, may not hold up. History shows that despite the power of music, it may not do anything to sway an election. The first time musicians rallied behind a politician was the 1972 election Nixon vs. McGovern. Despite anti-war demonstrations supporting McGovern by Carole King, the Grateful Dead, and Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Young’s “War Song” written expressly for the candidate, Nixon still won the election with the most electoral votes in American history.
Springsteen himself has seen one candidate lose and one win for each election he’s supported. His first step into politics was in 2004 Bush vs. Kerry, and then made a return performance in 2008 Obama vs. McCain, both times supporting the Democratic nominee. Looking at all of these examples, it’s hard to find any evidence of musician support influencing the vote.
But that doesn’t stop them from trying. Obama’s newest supporter is Jay-Z, who released a TV ad this week supporting the President. One of the best things Jay-Z says Obama did for the American people was inspire them to get up and vote. He tells MTV, “For so long there was a voice that was silenced out there as far as exercising the right to vote. I think it was a voice that was silence because people had lost hope, they didn’t believe that their voice mattered or counted. Now people are exercising their right and you’re starting to see the power of our vote.”
So mark it on your calendar. November 6, 2012: Don’t forget to vote!