Kid Rock says he wants to be Michigan’s next senator.
Some may think a man who recently sold his 8,300 square foot Balinese-style mansion in Malibu is an unlikely voice for the working people of Michigan, whose swing to the right helped send Donald Trump to the White House. But the author of hits like Black Chick, White Guy ("his dick was metal / her pussy was a magnet”) can, in fact, represent the voice of a very specific Republican voter, whose political identity can be summarized as "wants to stick it to liberals."
Pissing off liberals is what the Republican party does best right now. If your political identity is any more conservative than that, you might have a hard time voting for Kid Rock, a supporter of the legalization of all drugs whose position on abortion is “it’s not up to a man to tell a woman what to do.” Take away the commitment to offending liberal snowflakes, and he’s basically Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, if Johnson had once briefly served as the lead singer for both Metallica and Guns N’ Roses.
Which is to say that Kid Rock is not really a conservative, or even someone who pretends to be one. And that’s just fine with many conservatives. As The Federalist put it, he may currently lack "a cogent list of reasons why he wants the job," but will benefit from "a blood connection through his baby’s momma with African-Americans” — as well as the fact that his Democratic opponent “resembles an overweight, scolding aunt.” Kurt Schlichter, of conservative news site Townhall.com, wrote that Kid Rock deserved to be elected to the Senate for the following reasons: He will annoy liberals, and he will also annoy conservative columnist George Will. "We’re past voting for the ideology," he wrote. "Now we’re ready to vote for the id."
"Vote for the Id" would make a pretty solid tagline for Republican politics circa 2017. The policy conversations and conflicts and basic premises that once governed conservatism — or at least appeared to — have been largely replaced by a set of principles built on the rock-solid foundation of irritating liberals.
After winning a presidential election with a candidate who had no serious conservative bona fides, the Republican Party has come to an important conclusion: Conservatism doesn't sell all that well. Telling Americans in desperate need of affordable health care that free markets will somehow sort it out someday is not a popular policy prescription — and Republicans have essentially given up on trying to enact those changes in the first place, settling instead for gesturing dismissively in its general direction. It turns out that many people, including President Donald Trump, kind of like Big Government, especially when a six-figure hospital bill is staring them down.
So amid the quagmire of the Obamacare repeal effort, Republicans are learning once more that being opposed to something is far easier than building consensus in support of something else. And fortunately for their party, plenty of voters also seem to enjoy focusing their searing anger onto other people and relishing in their apparent suffering, conservative values be damned.
Hence the Kid Rock Senate campaign, if it really exists. So far, the rollout has consisted of a picture on Twitter, followed by a tweet implying that that the limp-looking hamburger he was having for dinner was "real American" food compared to whatever his opponent, Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, would be eating.
For all we know, this could all all a stunt backed by a record company that is well aware of how fake news — and apparently, fake polling — involving Trump-adjacent cultural figures brings in millions of dollars of free media coverage (it’s perhaps worth noting here that his campaign store is currently hosted on the website of Warner Bros. Records).
But the maybe-real Kid Rock campaign is already capturing hearts and minds, and serving the most sacred mission possible: freaking out the libs. “Maybe this is just a marketing gimmick for a new album or tour,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote in a fundraising email after the rap-rocker launched his campaign site, “but we all thought Donald Trump was just promoting his reality TV show, too.”
Of course, this isn’t just a Trump thing: There’s a long tradition of American jokers and jesters converting fame into high office. Former SNL writer and performer Al Franken became a senator, former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota, and Arnold Schwarzenegger somehow became governor of California (for two terms!). Famous white men, having scaled our country's highest heights and descended into its lowest lows, have proven themselves fully capable of deciding that after years of enjoying the very best of life, they should find out what the worst looks like. And in 2017, the opposite of enjoying life is serving in government.
So yes, Kid Rock should probably run for the Senate. If there is any justice in the world, he will win and be forced to move to Washington, DC, and show up for votes on whether or not April 27 should be International Pillow Day, and attend fundraisers at the homes of Northern Virginia's finest citizens. He will wear suits and ask questions at cybersecurity hearings. He will have to answer constituent emails and hire staffers. He will be markedly ineffectual and do relatively little of any political consequence. Nothing will have changed as a result of either his candidacy or his service in Congress. And the Republican Party will have proven itself to be a leading voice in the fight against history’s greatest monsters: random liberals on the internet.
Jane Coaston is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. covering politics with a focus on political history, the American right wing and the GOP.
Contact Jane Coaston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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