Fleetwood Mac’s apolitical “Don’t StoprnThinking About Tomorrow.”rnGeorge W. Bush, however, appears tornbe willing to learn from some of his father’srnmistakes: The clay he accepted thernRepublican nomination, his campaignrnreleased its original, official song, ‘I’herncoimtry song says nothing about Bush,rnbut it does extol working people. It is alsornone of the first presidenhal campaignrnsongs to have an original tune, as opposedrnto the common prachce of settingrnnew words to well-known music.rnDoes a prcsidcnf s campaign song revealrnsomething significant about thernman, or the people who elected him?rnJudging bv the compact disc PresidentialrnCampaign Songs J 789-J 996 from thernSmithsonian histitution’s Folkwav series,rnthe answer seems to be yes.rnJohn Quincy Adams, who establishedrnthe Smithsonian, would be delightedrnthat his museum has restored an importantrnpart of American political history.rnHe would also be appalled at the declinernin character, patriotism, and educationrnthat is reealed bv contrasting the earlierrnsongs with those of the 20th century.rnConsider the decline of cultural literac’.rnIn 1856, James Buchanan proclaimedrn”there is balm in Gilead”rn(Jeremiah 8:22). In 1796, John Adamsrncould invoke the Battle of Thermopvlaern(480 B.C.), urging voters to imitate therngreat Spartan king who led the Greeksrnagainst the immense Persian army: torn”unite heart in hand, like Leonidis’srnband.”rnReligion has also been banished, althoughrnit once appeared frecjuently inrncampaign songs. William Henrv Harrison’srn”The Harrison Yankee Doodle”rnegotistically echoed the Lord’s Prayerrnwith “Thy will be done with Harrison;rnlog cabin and hard cider.” In “Lincolnrnand Libert}’,” abolitionism was referred tornas “the Great Reformation,” and the songrnextolled Lincoln’s debating skills byrnclaiming “our good David’s sling isrnunerring.” “Adams and Libcrtv” couldrnpromise that war’s lighhiing “bolts couldrnnot render freedom’s temple asunder” —rnan explicit reference to the lightningrnstrike that sundered the temple inrnJerusalem when Jesus died. “Huzzah forrnMadison, Huzzah” returned to thernAmerica-as-temple metaphor, for “unshakenrnstill the Temple stands.” EvenrnJefferson’s campaign song urged Americansrnto commit their “soul” to liberty.rnIn die 19th century, almost everv ‘otingrnAmerican, atheists included, understoodrnreferences to Jeremiah, KingrnDavid, and die life of Jesus. Today, fewrnAmericans woidd even know what wasrnbeing mentioned, let alone approve ofrnidentifying America’s freedom withrnGod’s will.rnFreedom itself is no longer celebrated.rnAdams’ supporters could sing that “ne’errnshall the sons of Cohunbia be slaves,”rnwhile Jefferson’s supporters were urged:rn”to hTants never bend the knee.” Shouldrnthe British attack, “the Heavens wouldrnsoon interpose,” boasted Madison’s song.rnIn the 20th century, however, almostrnall the songs have been vapid odes to tlierncandidate’s personalih, rarely daring tornmention God or libert}’, or even using anrnidea unfamiliar to a sixth-grader.rnI’he campaign tune that most closelyrnresembles Bush’s current paean to thernpeople is die 1816 song “Monroe Is thernMan.” But while Bush’s song celebratesrnpeople who work hard at their jobs, Monroe’srnreminded Americans of their civicrnduties: “Oh sa sovereign people, whosernvoice is the law, whose will is supreme,rnand keeps faction in awe.”rnUnfortunately for John Quincy Adams,rnthe Smithsonian dutifully records hisrn1828 campaign song, which shll sets thernrecord for excessive hysteria. “LittlernKnow Ye Who’s Coniin'” reeled off arnlitany of warnings about Andrew Jackson,rnclimaxing widi “Satan’s coming, if JohnrnQuincy’s not elected.”rnJackson, of course, turned out to be arnmuch better president than his detractorsrnhad expected. His brand of democraticrnpopulism transformed American politics,rnand his campaign song reflected this.rn”The Hunters of Kentucky” achieved acclaimrnas a song in its own right; thernmelody and words had a popular appealrnfar beyond the stilted songs of almost everyrnotiier presidential candidate. It is arnvivid celebration of the great Americanrnvictory over the British at the Battie ofrnNew Orleans in 181 5 — quite unlike GeraldrnFord’s pathetic “I’m feeling goodrnabout America . . . and I’m feeling goodrnabout me.”rnThe JacksonA^an Buren f^cmocratsrnmastered the art of popular politics in thernnew era of the “common man.” ThernWhigs (like George W. Bush today)rnproved that they could learn from experience,rnby putting forth in 1840 a pointlessrnbut catchy tune, “Tip and Ty,” urgingrnvoters to join “the ball a rollin’ on forrnTippecanoe and Tyler too.” (Menrnrolling a giant Harrison ball from tow n torntown was a popular campaign event.)rnMter the Givil War, Republican campaignrnsongs were sung to the tune of poprdarrnwar songs: “Grant, Grant, Grant” tornthe tune of “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” orrn”Just Before Election, Andy” to “Just Beforernthe Battle, Mother.” (This last songrnwas obsolete before its time, since PresidentrnAndrew Johnson was denied renomination.)rnThe Civil War obsession made sensernfor the 1868 election, but the Republicansrndemonstrated their hollowness byrnsticking to this theme even in 1880, warningrnthat “If the Johnnies Get into Power”rn(“Wlien Johnny Gomes Marching Home”)rnthey w ould desecrate Lincoln’s tomb andrnchange the flag’s stripes into “rebel bars.”rnThis absurd charge was made despite thernfact that the Democratic candidate wasrnWinfield Scott Hancock, a retired Unionrngeneral.rnNo Smithsonian product would berncomplete without at least a few additionsrndesigned to make people resent beingrnAmericans. The Smithsonian liner notesrn(written by the CD’s performer, OscarrnBrand) deliberately foster anti-Americanism.rnThey point out that, when Washingtonrnwas elected to the Virginia Housernof Burgesses in 1757, he held campaignrnevents at which large quantities of liquorrnwere distributed. But this was a standardrncampaign practice at the time.rnThe Smithsonian also misleadinglyrnclaims that the electorate during Washington’srntime was composed of “whiternmales owning at least 50 acres or thernequivalent.” This is no more than a halftruth,rnsince several states allowed freernblacks to vote, and many states had lessrnstringent property requirements.rnThe liner notes also have socialist overtones.rnThe reader is told that Madisonrnobserved that “the most common sourcernof friction in societ)’ is the unequal distributionrnof property” and is led to thinkrnthat Madison favored redistribution ofrnpropert)’. However, a primary purpose ofrnthe Constitution, vvliich Madison largelyrnwrote, was to prevent democratic governmentrnfrom confiscating the property ofrndie wealtiiy to give to the masses.rnThe liner notes also claim that MartinrnVan Buren “infuriated working peoplernand businessmen by refusing to helprnthem in the general depression.” YetrnVan Buren believed that the most effectivernwaj’ to end die Panic of 1837 was tornprevent the state from meddling in therneconomy and to ensure that the federalrngovernment obeyed constitutional limitsrnon its power.rnNOVEMBER 2000/43rnrnrn