In 2008, when Sen. John McCain used “Pink Houses” and “Our Country” at his campaign rallies, John Mellencamp told him to cease and desist.
Last month, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker used “Small Town” during his recall campaign, Mellencamp sent a letter, informing Walker he supports unions and collective bargaining rights.
Now Tammy Duckworth is using “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” in a campaign video. That should meet with Mellencamp’s approval. The Hoosier musician performed at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, where his wife was a delegate. In 2008, he campaigned with John Edwards.
Yet his odes to small town and rural life have more often been adopted by Republicans, who tend to represent small towns and rural areas.
“More often than not it’s right wing candidates who use his songs, which is somewhat paradoxical,” Mellencamp’s publicist, Bob Merlis, told the Associated Press. “He’s a very liberal person.”
“R.O.C.K. is the U.S.A.” is the soundtrack to a 90-second video in which Duckworth travels around the northwest suburbs talking about her vision of the American Dream, and asking voters for theirs.
Paul from Schaumburg says, “The American Dream to me is the opportunity for one generation to do better than the previous one.”
Says Jan from Algonquin: “My American Dream would be I have my grandchildren. I would love to be able to see them all go to college.”
In a restaurant, Duckworth tells prospective constituents, “If I can pick up a rifle and get college money out of picking up a rifle, why can’t we give kids college money for picking up a shovel or a hammer to rebuild their communities? I strongly support that. It’s about doing better and living up to a higher standard than we are right now, so I’m really proud to be out here talking to folks about their American Dream, because every one of us deserves a chance to work as hard as he can to achieve success in our lives.”
Mellencamp actually has a song called “American Dream,” but it wasn’t one of his hits. You can read the lyrics here.