Ron Paul: Disco Sucks


I don’t own a television. On debate nights I just head out to the local meetup event. Tonight though, there was no meetup event. What was I going to do? Well I remembered that at the company where I used to be employed full-time but now perform part-time consulting, the break room is equipped with a dish and a TV. Why? I have no idea. People who write software don’t have much time to sit down and watch TV. They generally don’t even go out to lunch. A lot of eating happens at their desks.

I’m glad I made the trip. So many times I have watched this campaign achieve utterly historic and cosmic coincidences. This was one of those times. For one, Tom Cruise was a guest. His new movie, Lions for Lambs revolves around the Iraq war. What a setup! For another, the Sex Pistols were the musical guest. The Sex Pistols were very controversial in their day. I bought “Never Mind the Bullocks” the year it was released. “Bodies," one of the best songs off that album is decidedly anti-abortion and in a very offensive way.

Dr. Paul was great. He was affable, witty and was treated well by both Leno and his audience. Later, when the Sex Pistols had finished their song, he rushed up to meet and shake Johnny Rotten’s hand. Politics? Dunno. But the original Sex Pistols was one of my favorite bands ever. Not because they were so “good." They were mediocre musicians at best. Most of the songs that they recorded were actually performed by session musicians in the studio. Live it didn’t matter. It’s only three chords. The songs though, that’s another story entirely. So is the influence that they had on music. They weren’t the first punk band, but they certainly were the most influential.

At a time when the radio had been totally overtaken by disco (even The Rolling Stones included a disco song on the “Some Girls” album — “Miss You”) and great rock bands were being ignored, here came the Sex Pistols with an incredibly raucous, disrespectful, authority-hating attitude to single-handedly save Rock and Roll. Their first album was released in 1977 and it took a while to really catch on in the US though it was a smash in the UK. By 1979, the effect of that album culminated at the old Comiskey Park in Chicago. Steve Dahl, a Chicago D.J., had tapped into public sentiment more than he imagined.

Expecting 5000 to show up for a promotion which would culminate in disco records brought to the stadium in exchange for tickets destroyed, more than 50,000 people showed up and the event itself became something just shy of an uncontrollable riot.

Dahl had tapped into something that even he did not understand at the time. Record sales for disco artists fell off sharply the next year.

The parallels between that event and Ron Paul’s candidacy are eerie. Ron Paul has ignited something similar within the American people. Like the corrupt record execs who offered the public very little in the way of choices, our American government and old media has offered the public the political equivalent of disco. Lots of different people are saying similar sounding things and promising to run our lives in only slightly different ways. Like the event in Comiskey Park, the reaction cannot be controlled and is vastly underestimated — though in this case the participants are not drunken baseball fans. Paulenteers have channeled their passion into a grass roots campaign that is rocking the world.

The connection between the Sex Pistols and the Dahl event is probably not documented anywhere. But if you read anything about the Sex Pistol’s influence in the music industry, it cannot be overstated. They saved Rock and Roll. Music fans just ate it up. In the UK, their first Album went number one to the horror of the music establishment and the government. "God Save the Queen," was utterly shocking and turned British society on its ear. The stakes are higher now. Ron Paul could literally save this country and maybe even the world (from U.S.).

Oh…and tonight? The song? Only the most appropriate for the occasion: “Anarchy in the U.K.”

The old phrase “disco sucks” now has a completely different meaning for me.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts