I was driving to the airport listening to a country music station on the radio a couple of days ago when this song came on. It’s the lead-off single from an album coming out in November by none other than Billy Ray Cyrus. And while it’s bombastic and seems aimed to cross over from country to contemporary pop/Christian, and thus not something I would usually listen to, I found it powerful and affecting. More importantly, like much of country music it seemed to have the pulse of America in an honest and realistic way and to speak to the kind of people who pragmatically should be voting for Obama but due to matters of culture, style, religion, anti-elitism, and maybe race, are more comfortable with the message McCain and Palin are putting out.
It’s ironic because there was a time when the down and dispossessed and those in need of hope were a natural base for the democrats, but if we look at the progression - from Kennedy to Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama - while the intelligence scale remains high, the ability to have the common touch and especially to connect with the kind of people who are the core country music audience is dangerously shaky.
So in the last few weeks of the campaign, as our economy is literally melting down - and in addition to being beset by the dangers of war, a fragile planet, and the precarious state of individual rights - I would urge Obama and his advisors to listen to a little country music.