Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Alice Cooper -- "Elected" (1972)

Top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice
I wanna be elected!

Today's the big day.  In less than 24 hours, we should know who the next President of the United Staes is.  

We'll also know the identities of thousands of other officeholders: Senators and U.S. Representatives, governors, lieutenant governors, state attorneys general, state legislators, county executives, mayors, county and city councilmen and councilwomen, board of education members, county sheriffs, clerks of court, registers of wills, and countless others.  

But everyone's focused on the ne plus ultra of American elective office . . . the most powerful man in the world (after Chuck Norris) . . .  the capo di tutti capi . . . the POTUS.

I wish he was running for President!
I'll be watching the election results tonight for the same reason I watch "SportsCenter" on ESPN -- because I'm interested in knowing who the winners and losers are.  But the outcome won't matter that much to me -- nor should it.  I'll wake up tomorrow morning and go to the same job, I'll come home tomorrow night to the same house and family and dog and cat, etc., etc., etc.

That's the great thing about the United States, boys and girls -- for 99% of us, it really doesn't matter that much who wins and who loses.  Sure, most of us have a preference for one candidate or the other.  But your life over the next four years is probably going to be pretty much the same regardless of who the President is.  

So don't get all bent out of shape if your guy falls short.   Look on the bright side and count your blessings: we won't have to watch any political ads on TV for the next year or so.

Speaking of political ads, the Obama campaign has raised $632 million ($423 million from large contributions) for this election, while the Romney campaign has raised $389 million ($316 million from large contributions).  If my math is correct, that's over a billion dollars -- most of it spent in just a few states.  You and I may be glad that the campaign is almost over, but the TV and radio stations, local newspapers, direct-mail companies, and robocallers are fat and happy tonight.

The Billion Dollar Babies album cover
"Elected" was the third track on Alice Cooper's sixth studio album, Billion Dollar Babies, which was released in 1973.  But it was released as a single in 1972 -- October 7 to be precise, exactly one month before the 1972 election.

The 1972 election was a doozy.  President Richard Nixon's renomination was never in doubt.  But the Democratic nomination was up for grabs.

A total of 15 men and women sought that nomination.  Ted Kennedy would likely have won the nomination if he had run, but he declined to do so.  (Mary Jo Kopechne had died in his car in July 1969, but many people were apparently prepared to overlook his behavior that night and the lies he told about what happened.)

That left Senator Ed Muskie of Maine, the 1968 vice-presidential nominee, as the favorite.  The 1968 presidential nominee, Hubert Humphrey, also ran.  But neither man did very well.

The eventual winner was South Dakota Senator George McGovern, a "dove" who looked like a longshot at first.  (The darling of the doves in 1968, Eugene McCarthy, also sought the nomination but didn't get very far.)

Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson of Washington, a more conservative Democrat, and Alabama Governor George Wallace, who said he no longer favored racial segregation but did oppose school bussing, were McGovern's most serious opponents.

(New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to run for President, won three primaries but never had a real chance to prevail.  Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the first Asian-American of either sex to contend for the nomination, ended up with only a single delegate.)

Seven different Democrats won primaries in 1972
Wallace not only won primaries in four Southern states, but also finished first in the Michigan and Maryland contests.  But his chances of winning the nomination ended when was shot four times and left paralyzed on May 15. 

McGovern went into the convention with plenty of delegates to win a first-ballot victory, but the convention was chaotic.  McGovern chose Missouri's Senator Thomas Eagleton to be his running mate, but a number of the delegates who were unhappy with McGovern made their displeasure known by not voting for Eagleton.

In fact, the delegates voted for some 70 different men and women for the vice-presidential nomination.  Even Chairman Mao Tse-Tung (or Mao Zedong, if you prefer) of China got a vote.

Eagleton and McGovern
Within days, it was discovered that Eagleton had undergone shock treatment for depression.  After first saying he backed Eagleton "1000 per cent," McGovern changed course and asked Eagleton to step down.  His first six choices to replace Eagleton declined, so McGovern turned to Kennedy brother-in-law Sargent Shriver to fill the void.

President Nixon was pretty popular in 1972, largely because he was credited with having achieved détente with China and the Soviet Union.  McGovern was viewed as an extreme liberal by many voters -- he was accused of being the candidate of "amnesty, abortion, and acid" by fellow Democrat Hubert Humphrey in the Nebraska primary campaign, and that label stuck.

The result was a landslide of historic proportions.  Nixon won 60.7% of the popular vote, while McGovern won only 37.5%.  The Electoral College tally was even more one-sided: 520 for Nixon, 17 for McGovern.  (Only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia favored McGovern, who died last month at age 90.)

We all know what happened to President Nixon, of course.  Within two years of the 1972 election, he was forced to resign from office due to the Watergate scandal.    

"Elected" made it to #26 on the U.S. charts.  Oddly, it did better abroad, reaching the top 10 in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands.  (Not France, of course.  France always has to be different.)

Alice Cooper strikes a patriotic pose
I bought Billion Dollar Babies and several other Alice Cooper albums back in the day, and I think he's very underrated.  Most people remember him for his female name, his excessive makeup and weird outfits, and his over-the-top, horror-movie-inspired live shows.

But good old Alice (who was born Vincent Damon Furnier in Detroit in 1948) knew how to write memorable songs.

By the way, David Byrne said that Billion Dollar Babies inspired him to write "Psycho Killer," the first song he ever wrote and arguably the greatest Talking Heads song ever.  

"Elected" has lines that seem like they were written for both candidates.

Don't these lines fit the typical Democrat's view of Mitt Romney's image?

A Yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls-Royce
I want to be elected!

And these lines could have been written about Barack Obama:

I never lied to you, I've always been cool
I want to be elected!

Here's the music video for "Elected."  Alice makes a pretty compelling campaigner.  (Don't miss the chimp's entrance with the wheelbarrow of cash at about 1:40.)

And here's a link you can use to buy it from Amazon:

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