Paul Ryan Gets No Love From Rage Against The Machine
Paul Ryan has become the latest Republican to be spurned by one of his favorite musical groups. The presumptive vice presidential nominee was the subject of a scathing op-ed by Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello in Rolling Stone, who wrote that Ryan “is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.”
Morello and other articles cite a single New York Times article that mentions Ryan’s appreciation of the radical lefitst band once, but doesn’t provide a source for the information. (Another NYT article from April notes Ryan’s habit of listening to the band during workouts.) Morello also suggests that Ryan has made the statement “that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics.”
In any event, if Ryan is a fan, Morello certainly isn’t.
Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
Ryan is just the latest Republican to be rebuffed by their band of choice. The Mitt Romney and Ryan ticket had already been hit by The Silversun Pickups for using their tune “Panic Switch” at rallies without permission; the band made clear they do not support the campaign. And George W. Bush used Tom Petty‘s defiant “I Won’t Back Down” in 2000, when The Heatbreaker’s front man backed Al Gore.
Bruce Springsteen has been a particular favorite of conservatives, despite the Boss’ staunch progressive politics. Ronald Reagan famously began referencing Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” during the 1984 campaign, because clearly no one on his staff had listened to the song past the rousing chorus (it’s highly critical of the nation’s role in Vietnam and treatment of veterans). And fellow Garden Stater Chris Christie has proclaimed Springsteen to be his favorite musician on many occasions. Bruce publicly denounced Reagan’s use of his song, and has privately turned down opportunities to play for the governor.
What is it about conservatives loving liberal musicians? Maybe it’s just a statistics thing: artists tend to skewer liberal, so chances are your favorites will vote Democrat (or Green or Socialist).
But maybe these affluent, powerful men justify their top-down worldviews by believing they are the protagonists of these songs: defiant, yearning, striving, blue-collar underdogs.
Maybe they should stick with Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock.