Vote Kid Rock in 2018

Kid Rock
"In your face, China!" Instagram

Newsweek does not, as a rule, make political endorsements, but I’m going to go rogue on this one: I hereby endorse Kid Rock’s 2018 run for the U.S. Senate.

Yes, that Kid Rock.

No, this isn’t fake news.

Kid Rock, presumably still known to the authorities as Robert J. Ritchie, made his announcement in America’s closest approximation of a public square: Twitter.

Some immediately speculated that this was a publicity stunt. Sure, maybe, but isn’t every presidential run, to some degree, a bid for more attention? Others may wonder what policy proposals the “Bawitdaba” singer will bring to the nation’s most serious legislative chamber, other than encouraging his fellow Americans to party more and wear decorative belt buckles. I can’t answer that just yet, but I can confidently say this: We deserve Kid Rock. All of us, not just those of us in Michigan. We live in his world, a world that shuns expertise, spurns seriousness, treats vulgarity as authenticity and celebrates cheap displays of machismo. We are all on his tour bus, and it doesn’t look like we’re getting off anytime soon. Lord only knows where we’re headed.

It’s no accident that, earlier this year, Kid Rock was invited to the White House with professional racist and sometime singer Ted Nugent (Sarah Palin was there, too). President Donald Trump knows which way the wind is blowing, and it isn’t in the direction of anything resembling moral seriousness. The forces Trump rode into public office brook party division: an erosion of trust in civic institutions, a celebration of crass ignorance as a kind of virtue, an utter debasement of our shared culture. Those forces will be available in 2018 and 2020 and beyond, if not to Kid Rock then to someone else. (I fully expect we will see a President Kardashian in the not-distant-enough future.)

But, really, could we do any better than Kid Rock? Does anyone more perfectly encapsulate our national priorities? Is there any one else alive who has punched Tommy Lee and assaulted some random guy at  Waffle House? If he were any more patriotic, he'd eat a bald eagle raw. 

Although he has never served in the military or held public office, Kid Rock did make a sex tape in which he and Creed frontman Scott Stapp are shown romancing several groupies. Nothing announces one's desire to be taken seriously by his or her fellow Americans today quite like making a sex tape. Certainly, it's a lot easier than writing a book.

Kid Rock also speaks fearlessly on race. Confronted with his apparent affection for the Confederate flag in 2015, he had this to say to the offended: “Kiss my ass.” I can hear shades of JFK, can’t you? In 2013, Kid Rock told Howard Stern that he frequently used the N-word and saw no problems in doing so. BET summarized part of the exchange: “When the shock jock asked whether he felt it was appropriate to use the word around his biracial son, who is half Black, Kid answered, ‘why not?’”

Earlier this year, Kid Rock demonstrated his nuanced understanding of trade policy by posting a video in which he fires a gun at foreign-made outdoor cooking grills. Conveniently, the video doubled as a promotion for his American Badass Grills. As a matter of fact, Kid Rock is nearly as adept at marketing as our current president. He has a line of flavored bourbons, Red Stag, made by Jim Beam. Pour yourself a shot of cinnamon courage, hit play on the Kid Rock sex tape, and don’t forget to vote.

The trend of celebrities turning to politics is, of course, not new. The most famous and successful in making that switch were Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there was also Jesse Ventura, who governed Minnesota, sort of, and Al Franken, a serving senator from that state.

But in previous times in American history, celebrity was a means to achieve office, not as a means to achieve more celebrity through having achieved office. You put aside the acting, or whatever you did to become famous, to now do the work you promised the voters you’d do on their behalf. Criticize the Gipper all you want, he didn’t go into politics to sell condos in Dubai. Nor did Arnie hawk steaks from the podium.

Today, however, the Oval Office is just another reality television set, the presidential seal a prime branding opportunity. Trump has so thoroughly debased the presidency (and it's only been 173 days) that it is now little more than a marketing gimmick. So the question of whether Kid Rock’s announcement is a gimmick or not is almost beside the point.

It’s all a gimmick, and we’re all living in it.