I think “What would Elvis do?” has become a handy substitute for “What would Jesus do?” the difference being Jesus (or at least his followers) left a well-defined set of instructions to guide our speculation, while Elvis was as obscure as any person can be who achieves enough fame to make wondering what they would do occur to anyone in the first place.

Over at Greil Marcus’ website, he just received the inevitable question “Would Elvis have voted for Trump?”

Marcus took it for granted that the question referred to Elvis Presley (perhaps Elvis Costello is not, per Steven Van Zandt, the “real” Elvis after all) and answered at length. You can read his answer under the May 29, 2017 mailbag at his site (link available on my blogroll at the right–sorry, I can’t link to individual questions inside the mailbag itself).

In summary, it’s the usual mishmash: The Elvis who died in 1977 “probably… would have” voted for Trump, but if he had lived another forty years he might have turned into a good person, unlike the millions who actually voted for Trump because he represents the kind of evil country they want to live in. I’ll just point out that Marcus does not address the key demographic of the 2016 election, the several million people–many of them concentrated in the industrial swing states which crumbled the Blue Wall and decided the election–who voted for Trump after voting for Obama twice.

Did they suddenly change their minds about which kind of country they wanted to live in? Did Obama simply fail to deliver the evil country they thought he had promised? Or was Trump seen as more likely than Hillary Clinton to maintain the country they wanted to live in when they voted for Obama?

I encourage you to read Marcus’ response, but, in short, he doesn’t say.

What I really want to do though is answer the question.

Would Elvis have voted for Trump?

I wonder why we only wonder who Elvis would have voted for? Does anybody (well, any white boy critic or wannabe) ask themselves whether Ray Charles or James Brown–both much further to the right on the public record than Elvis ever was–would have voted for Trump? If they don’t, why not? I’m sure it’s not because they don’t think Mr. Charles or Mr. Brown lacked moral or intellectual agency. I mean, that would be sorta racist wouldn’t it?

Comes to that, why don’t we wonder who the more-or-less still living “Johnny Rotten” would have voted for if he were an American? Is it because all the cool people might not like the answer? (Just an aside: Marcus was recently asked about this one as well and basically gave Lydon a pass–and not because Trump is as an inevitable part of Lydon’s legacy as he is a rejection of the real Elvis’.)

I don’t have the least clue who the real Elvis–who at least tacitly endorsed both Adlai Stevenson and George Wallace whilst he was living–would have voted for.

Neither do you. Neither does anyone.

I know what he did when it mattered. When it mattered he sang “If I Can Dream” into the teeth of the anti-Enlightenment forces, Left and Right, that were dismantling the Dream he had done as much as any man to make real. And he put more pure anger into it than anyone has ever conveyed on a record that reached the Top 40. (Listen again, with headphones and your eyes closed if you can. You’ll hear it, right there from the heart of ’68.) When it mattered, he did things like this.

There were reasons why James Brown, who, like many an ornery American liable to vote for Obama one time and Trump the next, preferred dying on his feet to living on his knees, wept over Elvis’ coffin. Seeing around the corner, where the Dream would shatter, and the post-Carter political class–yes, all of them–would crawl from the wreckage, was no doubt foremost among them.

16 thoughts on “WHAT WOULD ELVIS DO?

  1. NDJ

    Votes in America are secret. We don’t KNOW who voted for whom in any election We do know that:

    In 2012, Obama got 65,915,795 votes (second highest in history).
    In 2016, Clinton got 65,844,610 votes (third highest in history).

    That’s a difference of 70,000 votes (a fraction of a percent), which in the Pacific Northwest is a far cry from 2,000,000.

    In 2012, Romney got 60,933,504 (sixth highest)
    In 2016, Trump got 62,979,636 (fourth highest).

    I would read this as Trump stirring up 2,000,000 formerly apathetic citizens to vote for him.

    There is no real evidence that a large amount of people who voted for Obama in 2012 voted for Trump in 2016. Blame that fake fact on the DLM (damn librull media).


    PS: We also know that millions of ballots went uncounted, most of them in Democratic precincts in Rep*blican states. (Purely coincidental, of course.)

    PPS: As for Mr Presley, one of his only public statements about politics was when he declared his intention to vote for Adlai Stevenson in 1956.

    • I’ll buy your bigger point that counting votes is a thoroughly corrupt process and no one has ever figured out how to make it otherwise. Stealing it fair and square (in the old Nixon/Kennedy saw) is about the best we can expect given how much power and money (control of the mightiest empire yet devised by man) is at stake. Nonetheless, well over 200 counties who “officially” voted for Obama twice, “officially” voted for Trump. If half of them had “officially” voted for Clinton she’d be president, no matter how many voters Trump brought out of the woodwork. BTW: If we don’t really know who voted for who or how many millions went “uncounted,” why trust the numbers you cite? Who counted them and how honest were they? I know a lot of folks comfort themselves by pretending their side never cheats, is haplessly inept when they try (presumable due to lack of practice) or does it only because the opposition’s inherent evil makes any level of corruption required to combat it acceptable. I get why people do this–I’ve done it myself–but, in the end, I’m not comforted.

      • NDJ

        • I did not say that counting votes is a “thoroughly corrupt process.” I said that millions of votes went uncounted—mostly in Democratic precincts in mostly Rep*blican states.

        Of course, this could lead any thinking person to believe that corruption is afoot—at least in red states.

        • You ask, “If we don’t really know who voted for who or how many millions went ‘uncounted,’ why trust the numbers you cite?”

        Um, we vote anonymously in this country, so nobody EVER knows who voted for whom. The most accurate gauge of how people voted is exit polls, which aren’t taken seriously by the DLM (unless it points to cheating in a Third Wold country).

        There are always uncounted ballots, but the number/percentage is growing each election—mostly in Dem precincts in Rep states.

        I trust those numbers (machine and/or hand-counted0 because I have not succumbed to groundless paranoia. Yet.

        • My argument remains the same: using the 255,000,000+ counted votes in 2012 and 2016, one cannot prove that 2,000,000 people switched from Dem to Rep in 2016.

        That’s all …


        PS: Notice I didn’t even mention cheating voters of their rights (innocuously referred to as “disenfranchisement” by the DLM) via Crosscheck and other nefarious methods—mostly of perceived Dem voters in Rep states.

        • Fair enough. But if “millions of ballots went uncounted” why trust those that were? Wouldn’t people who are capable of not counting ballots also be capable of MIScounting them (say, switching votes)? Yes, at some point we all have to agree to accept the announced results, else Chaos. But I see accepting a set of numbers and trusting them as two separate issues. You have more trust than me, but I think we’d both prefer to avoid Chaos.

          That’s not even taking mass incompetence into account, though. One of these days I’ll have to write about how my heavily African-American county, the poorest in Florida, cost Al Gore the presidency–without the national media noticing….Might have to check into the Witness Protection program first, though!

          • NDJ

            Throughout our history, cheating has been possible, although less likely in modern times as machine counts can’t be manipulated—although the machines and their software can be manipulated prior to voting. Also, in close elections, hand counts are monitored by both parties.

            At this time, most votes are counted honestly most of the time.

            At this time, the ability to cheat in an election with 130,000,000 votes is apparently impossible. Fortunately for the cheaters, they don’t have that problem.

            Most people think we have “an election” every four years. We don’t: we have 51 elections (50 states and DC). This breaks that huge, unwieldy number up into smaller amounts, which are easier to mess with.

            In the US, because of the electoral college, manipulation of cast ballots only has to take place in a handful of so-called “wing states.”

            Oddly, these are the very states that have the most glaring problems with disenfranchisement and “damaged” and uncounted ballots.

            Oddly, these states are all red.

            Oddly, the faulty voting machines, the screwed-up polling hours, the long lines that leave voters standing at the door after voting is closed, the “provisional ballots” handed out, etc etc etc, mostly affect Democratic precincts.

            Make of it what you will.


            PS: With Diebold and Crosscheck and increased disenfranchisement and whatever new wonders are in store for us courtesy of the Grand Old party, things are NOT going to get better soon …

  2. “If I Can Dream” gets me through the worst of these times. I am grateful for the secret ballot.
    Elvis might tell you who he voted for is none of yer bidness.
    I used to live in a bellwether state. We were at least a swing state. But, we’ve been gerrymandered into oblivion. Depressing.

    • Hi, Peggy…I know what you mean about If I Can Dream (I’ve had it get me through worse times than this!) And, yes, Elvis did have that press conference where he basically said it was none of your business, though of course he did it in the most gentlemanly manner possible!

  3. The only problem I see with your logic is the assertion that the “swing states” are all red. You mean like Michigan? Wisconsin? Pennsylvania? (Even Florida is fairly split. We almost always have one Dem and one Rep as senators and went for Obama twice, though the Reps do have a firm grip on the state legislature….on the other hand Dems now have firm control of Broward County, which is where close elections for Gov., Senator and President have been decided for as long I’ve been voting. I knew Clinton wasn’t going to win Florida early on election night–long before it was called–because it was obvious her deficit in the rest of the state was going to be too large for Broward’s standard secret stash of 5-10,000 votes, always available to whoever counts the “absentee” ballots, to swing it for her. Then again, I knew sooner than that, because the paucity of public support for her in the two Deep Blue counties where I live and work was notable. No signs, no bumper stickers, no rallies. She won both counties easily–they’re the blue dot you see in the sea of red north of Orlando on a 2016 county election map. But the absence of real enthusiasm here signaled that she would be swamped everywhere else. And she was.)

    But you’re right about it not getting better any time soon…on that we can agree!

  4. EDN

    My apologies: by “red” I was not referring to the voters. I meant that the governorship and state legislature of these states are mostly Rep*blican. And these are the people who control voting: what method used, what machines, where those machines are distributed, who counts the machines, etc.


      • “I consider it completely unimportant [who votes], but what is extraordinarily important is this: who will count the votes, and how.” — attributed to Josef Stalin (who knew a thing or two about running just about everything)

        • And provided a fine role model for the apparatchiks who run both political parties with well-matched degrees of malice and ineptitude. It’s only the latter that’s spared us thus far. God forbid they should ever become really good at it.

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