Popular Culture in Politics

Springsteen vs. Reagan

“America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about”    – President Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan’s rise to the Oval Office marked the triumph of a revitalized Republican Party and conservative movement. The party platform supported a constitutionally limited government in economics, stronger military, and the vision of the American Dream. Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 album Born in the U.S.A denounced this political shift as the causes of greater division of wealth, unpatriotic wars, and class struggles. Three songs, in particular, capture the spirit of Springsteen’s anti-American anthem: Glory Days, Born in the U.S.A, and Dancing in the Dark”. Springsteen, an outspoken liberal, conceives America’s continuum of violence through its inability to support labor unions, war veterans, and welfare programs. It is clear that, the musical scene has been dominated by the left and is affecting the way the GOP can relate to the youth in modern times.

The Conflict Over Opportunity

Oppurtunity The American Dream, the endless pursuit of wealth, promotes the capitalistic way of economics to achieve that goal. Springsteen views the American Dream as a façade of society, because of its capability to put monetary value before the common man. This violent cycle of tainted wealth prisons the working class into one iron cage that can never be opened. Bureaucracy controls who can obtain certain portions of wealth, thus, creating a class struggle. The cage will simply move in a vicious pattern to other nations with cheaper labor costs. Corporations moved out from America on a vicious hunt for nations whom they could lease their ideas to, in return for inflated profit margins. Springsteen tackles the hazards of capitalism in Glory Days by simply comparing life in the past to the present. The nostalgia of living life in a more spiritual manner, along with friends and family, is something Springsteen sees missing in contemporary America. Protectionist policies of workers rights used to be enshrined in labor unions. However, with the popularity of President Reagan, lassies-faire economic policies took the scene. The federal government holds the monopoly on defining violence, hence, low wages, long hours, and minimal benefits are not defined as a continuum of violence. Bruce Springsteen, a believer in the Marxist utopia, takes issue with the structural violence that capitalism has hosted in its class divide between the elite and working class. Springsteen’s father worked for Ford Motor Company on the assembly line for twenty years, but was laid off late in his life, leaving him with no source of income or social security. Political affiliation with the Democratic party clearly shapes Springsteen’s views on the immorality of capitalism and how the American Dream is just that, a dream. Democracy has been challenged by many international powers, however, intervention through war has been at the core of American foreign policy.

Is War Patriotic or Not?

Vietnam WarThe Vietnam War was a highly politicized battle to extend liberal democracy into Southeast Asia, and is considered to be America’s first military defeat. Born In The U.S.A. provided an unpatriotic anthem for the veterans returning from the war. Mr. Springsteen was an outspoken member of the anti-war ideology, yet, he still saw the need to respect those who are able to put their country before their political beliefs. Unlike both World Wars, Vietnam veterans were not welcomed as heroes, but rather ignored and written off in the history books. Military action in Vietnam truly made American citizens into products of the state. By entering a war that was not meant to maintain peace, patriotism was lost at the home front. President Reagan adopted a peace through strength doctrine, and justified his increased finances on nuclear warheads as peaceful and necessary for America’s safety. Of course, Bruce Springsteen opposed this doctrine and emphasized that government should be combating domestic issues of poverty and unemployment before it can combat global issues. The interventionist mentality derives from its colonial roots of manifest destiny to promote culture superiority, political control, and stronger commerce. The justification for war is to impose American values of democracy to the betterment of global society. As American wars became questioned by both citizens and celebrities, Springsteen comments on the deterioration of social programs.

The Battle Over the Welfare State

The federal government has an issue with managing its assets, in other words tax dollars, for funding large military battles instead of combating domestic issues. President Reagan was notorious for cutting public programs like health care, school finances, and social security. Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark portrays how the Reagan administration underlines self-reliance as the key to all problems. The conservative movement backed the ideology that a job was the best social program, and when the going gets tough, no alternative plan would be available. The negligence of the Reagan administration slashing public entitlements depicts the vision of Bruce Springsteen that the government does not protect its citizens. The government simply taxes its citizens not to aid or protect them, but rather to finance their own political agendas. The federal government is meant to work for its tax payers, the collective good, and follow the constitution’s beginning words of “We the people.” Although American exceptionalism can be revived, Springsteen believed it could not with President Reagan’s policies.  The lack of funds put towards social welfare confirmsedSpringsteen’s view that the rich get richer and poor get poorer.

In the End, the Left Still Dislikes us

Born In The U.S.A. illustrated the questionable ethic of the President Reagan’s conservative movement in its list of priorities. Springsteen denounces the Reagan administration for overlooking the significance of labor unions and the government’s inability to protect war veterans. Capitalism, war, and patriotism are heavily scrutinized for the downfall of America’s once strong blue collar society. President Reagan was placed as the poster child for this collapse and was used to confirm Springsteen’s liberal ideology that America’s best days are always behind, never ahead. The left does not have to dominate the media, evidence is on our side, we just need better marketing strategies to keep the movement of Red Nation Rising prosperous.

Conservatives Can Still Spread the Message

At CPAC St. Louis on September 28th, Rick Santorum provided a blueprint on how he plans to fix the fractured messaging of the popular media through joining the movie directing scene. It is clear that our messaging needs to be directed through stories and inspirational ideas that captivate the spirit of our founding principles.



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