Monday, March 2, 2015

Does"Born in the USA" Finally Reflect Conservative Values?

Some of you may recall my piece on Rick Perry's use of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" at a rally last month.  You can read it here.  It is entitled "Why Rick Perry Should Think Twice Before He Makes 'Born in the USA' His Theme Song." I basically argued, using Ronald Reagan's use of the song in the 1984, that despite its patriotic chorus "Born in the USA" is hardly a patriotic song.

Today Daniel Scotto, a writer and history graduate student, has responded with a piece of his own entitled "'Born in the USA' Now Fits the Conservative Message."  Here is a taste of his piece at The Federalist:

Writer and professor John Fea recently wrote a thoughtful piece for RealClearPolitics cautioning Rick Perry against using Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” as a campaign song. Fea recalls the issues that Ronald Reagan faced after using the song during his 1984 re-election bid. The Reagan campaign was wrong and its critics were right; the song isn’t about hope, and the frustration it depicts was ill-suited for “Morning in America.” But in the context of America today, “Born in the USA’s” critique of America fits much better on the Right than the Left.
Springsteen’s politics are well-established; he’s quite liberal and a fixture on Democratic presidential campaigns. As Fea writes, Springsteen engaged directly with Reagan’s use of his song by dedicating a performance of the bleak “Johnny 99” to Reagan in the run-up to the 1984 election...
...As the opposition party in an era of reform conservatism, Republicans can engage with the themes of “Born in the USA” in 2015. The song is a blistering criticism of four parts of American society that Republicans can critique fluently: a poorly led war, the treatment of veterans, inequality of opportunity, and a weak job market. These are best examined in pairs.
No time to respond at the moment, but I am curious what Springsteen fans think about Scotto's argument.