I was reading one of the ‘Best Longform Articles from 2012’, brought to our attention by Leroy Lynch and Magickle. Specifically, ‘Jersey Boys’ by Jeffrey Goldberg, from ‘The Atlantic’ magazine:
It’s basically an investigation about 2 of New Jersey’s most famous sons, Governor Chris Christie, a Republican and self-confessed ‘biggest fan’ of Bruce Springsteen, and ‘The Boss’ himself, Bruce Springsteen.
The article describes how one, the Republican, can’t understand how the other, a wealthy Democrat supporter, can be that way, when, as he sees it, Bruce Springsteen is the embodiment of the Republican ideal, a self-made man.
So, I thought I would give the Springsteen ‘Right of Reply’, from the Progressive Left perspective, if I may be so bold. As ‘The Boss’ is busy touring the world right now, and coming to Wayne Swan’s home town of Brisbane pretty soon too I believe. At which event I’m guessing Wayne swan will be in the front row!
So here I go.
Now, the article starts out by making an interesting point:
‘…most politicians-certainly most politicians of national stature-are either too dull, or too monomaniacally careerist to maintain fervent emotional relationships with artists. And when they do, the objects of their affection often resemble them ideologically or dispositionally-‘
Take the lyrics of the Springsteen song that is quoted in the article:
“Workin’ in the fields / Till you get your back burned / Workin’ ’neath the wheel / Till you get your facts learned / Baby, I got my facts / Learned real good right now.” He screams the song’s immortal lines: “Poor man wanna be rich / Rich man wanna be king / And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything / I wanna go out tonight / I wanna find out what I got.”
Now, it’s interesting to note the dichotomy of political belief as it relates to these 2 men & how they take different meanings out of the words of this song.
Chris Christie believes it exemplifies “The American Dream”, of starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. And no party enables the American Dream better than the Republican Party. That is, that the poor man working in the field aspires to be rich, that’s what motivates him to keep working in the field until his back burns. So that one day he might climb to the top of the greasy pole, and that he may become the rich man.
Then, as a rich man, he will keep aspiring to be more than that. He will aspire to be ‘king’. As in, in modern parlance, a CEO, PM or President. And that is fine and admirable according to Christie, and most modern Conservatives.
However, where I think Springsteen differs, is in the kicker in the tail told in that song, via the line:
‘And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything.’
Springsteen is saying the ‘king’ wants to keep the man in the field, workin’ neath the wheel, till his burnt back is broken.
Chris Christie doesn’t question the ‘Power at all costs as you rise to the top’ mentality. Springsteen does.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Springsteen had a few modern media moguls and politicians, like Rupert Murdoch & Silvio Berlusconi, in mind, when he wrote that line.
Men mainly. Though mannish women, like Margaret Thatcher probably would qualify also, whose sole aim in life has been to seek to rule as much of everything as they can, and destroy, denigrate, divide and conquer, those who try and get in their way.
Chris Christie, and most Conservatives, see nothing wrong with this at all. It is the purest manifestation of their ethos, which basically amounts to bare-knuckle Social Darwinism.
However, I believe, as most Social Democrats do, that Springsteen questions this mentality, and what’s more, disdains it utterley and completely.
For what does it benefit a man, if he does not benefit the greater good? The Common Weal. And that he cannot bring relief to his fellow man with good deeds?
Such as paying your fair share of tax, which then provides public services for the needy, and allows government to give them opportunities they cannot afford to provide for themselves, in order to better themselves?
As opposed to Christie’s idea that you only get what you take, or break your back to get.
That’s why Chris Christie doesn’t get why Bruce Springsteen stoically refuses to join the ‘Club of Kings’, even though Christie thinks he can explain it, when he says, “You want to know what he’s saying?”, Christie asks. “He’s telling us that rich people like him are fucking over us poor people in the audience, except that us in the audience aren’t poor, because we can afford to pay 98 bucks to him to see his show. That’s what he’s saying.”
Well, where do I start with that lot?
For a start, I don’t think Bruce Springsteen would take too kindly to a Republican Governor, who has slashed taxes for the rich & services for the poor, and who seeks to smash the Working Man & Woman’s collective voice, the Union, in their joint Home State of New Jersey, paraphrasing what Bruce Springsteen means with his lyrics, or how he manifests a hypocrisy with them by his actions in being a wealthy person, who sings songs about the poor’s struggles. By telling others, who can afford ~$100 for a ticket that they are poor, and downtrodden by ‘The Man’, as manifest by Christie and his plutocratic mates in the Republican Party.
No mention, of course, about how it may well be the case that a lot of the ticket purchasers could have put aside the equivalent of $2/week from their Minimum Wage jobs, for a year, just so they could afford to see Bruce Springsteen play live.
No, simply because they can still afford a ticket, that means they are not as badly off as Bruce Springsteen makes them out to be, according to Christie. A telling, and common, current Conservative mindset.
Maybe Bruce Springsteen understands better than Chris Christie exactly how these people came by the money for the tickets, and he expresses his sympathy and empathy in his songs?
Also, what Chris Christie, and most modern Conservative politicians, doesn’t understand, is that a wealthy individual does not have to abandon his principles and beliefs, nor empathy for the plight of the poorly-paid worker or the indigent who have fallen on hard times, or the disabled…just because he is a wealthy individual himself.
I mean, that’s the core difference between these 2 men. One believes that being a high-wealth individual disqualifies you from sympathy for the poor devils, and you are a hypocrite, therefore, if you seek to speak to that.
And then there is the other one, who believes in the eternal struggle against the wealthy in society, in order to get a better deal for those who don’t have as much, due to whatever circumstance, and so sees it as his duty to campaign to force the wealthy to share a little bit of their fortunes with those less fortunate. Even if you are one of ‘The 1%’ yourself.
Therefore, maybe, because Springsteen knows that Christie will never be able to comprehend this basic fact, is why he has no time for him. And never will.
I mean, Chris Christie is the living, breathing embodiment of the (fat) kid who never wanted to share, and thus is the walking, trash-talking epitome of today’s global Conservative Manifesto:
‘I got mine. You can go fuck yourself!’