I put little stock in the interpretation of dreams. I also reject the notion that people say what they really think when they’re drunk, that Freudian slips are bursts of honesty, and that the true mind of the Republican Party is expressed at its fringes. The Tea Party and Infowars.com do not tell us what conservatism has been thinking all along. They tell us what we have been thinking of conservatism all along. Like dreams, the communications of America’s resurgent right are notable for their disconnection from reality, not their insight into it. If you would like to glimpse a veritable Neverland, check out Mark Judge’s call for conservatives to embrace rock and roll. It is two years old and utterly irrelevant, like your recurring nightmare about getting an erection during swim lessons, but it is affecting nonetheless, like same. Insane quote after the jump.
Although he calls him “a political cretin,” Judge’s project is mostly to praise McCartney. Specifically, he wants to defend him from accusations of mediocrity in that venerable music-criticism journal, The Weekly Standard. The Standard objected to McCartney’s inclusion in the Kennedy Center honors, prompting Judge to lament the right’s enmity toward rock and roll. He thinks it’s a shame:
Rock and roll has all the characteristics of a great conservative art form. It comes from the people. It is both democratic and meritocratic; anyone can form a band in their garage and sing about anything they want, but—at least in most if not all cases—the talented are rewarded with success. Although its artists have total freedom to sing about whatever they want, its main theme is love, the kind of metaphysical, spiritual love that can give people supernatural strength and give direction and purpose to lives. Rock and roll is also fun, something that more and more liberals seem against.
I submit that the gap separating the old from the young in this country is the belief that, “in most if not all cases,” success in the musical industry correlates with talent. Also, listening to “She Loves You (Yeah Yeah Yeah)” does not give you supernatural strength, but whatever. What lends Judge’s words their dreamlike unreality is not his claim that Aerosmith has “total freedom to sing about whatever they want.” It’s the presumption that political conservatives are somehow opposed to rock and roll.
Ronald Reagan used “Born In the USA” at campaign events in 1984. I am to understand from the history written by my forebears—and by “written” I mean “broadcast on CBS”—that rock and roll was once a profound countercultural force. I’m not sure how that worked when the Beatles were the most popular musicians in the world, but I know it hasn’t been the case during my lifetime (1977-2003.) It’s a fantasy that a form of music that gained mainstream acceptance during the youth of America’s senior citizens would be considered a threat by conservatives. Like Harley-Davidsons and Steven Tyler, rock and roll is an agreed-upon symbol that means rebellion.
Interestingly, that’s what the post-W Republican Party would like to be, too. Since the election of Barack Obama, conservative rhetoric has steeped itself in images of revolution v. tyranny. Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, is somehow not a part of the mainstream media. Tea Party protestors, who first opposed any changes to the health care system and now advance the ideology of America’s ruling class, are somehow revolutionaries. The real monolithic cultural tradition in America is to assume a posture of rebellion. By that metric, at least, rock and roll is the most conservative force there is.