"I represent the Wild Party and I even have a campaign slogan: Alice Cooper - A troubled man for troubled times."
That's how Alice Cooper made headlines on February 24th, 1988. Announcing that he would be running for governor in his home state of Arizona as a write-in candidate. But anyone who had been around in the early '70s knew that this wasn't Cooper's first time in the political ring. Well, at least a WWE-like, shock-rock version of the political ring.
When Richard Nixon and George McGovern went head to head back in September of 1972, Alice Cooper ran for president with maybe one of the most powerful, low maintenance campaigns of all time. Everything he had to say was in the band's song "Elected," which was a restructured version of the their debut single "Reflected" off of 1969's Pretties for You. But the new version wasn't all that new, as MTV's Simon Reynolds detailed in his 2016 feature about Cooper predicting the reign of Donald Trump.
"The idea for “Elected” actually dated back to the previous presidential contest in 1968, which inspired Alice Cooper to write a song titled “You Shall Be Elected.” That lyrical concept fell by the wayside, but the tune survived as 'Reflected.'" The lyric became "I wanna be elected," which Reynold's deemed as "a messianic power trip for a singer who justifiably saw himself as a leader of youth."
Reynold's smartly recognizes the track as a piece of proto-punk that would go on to influence the version of punk that exploded out of the UK with the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the U.K. It's straightforward political satire was something The Stooges-influenced New York punk bands were not concerned with.
And as Reynold's lays out by the end of the feature, that brand of heady political satire in what he calls "'rock star' rock" is more aligned to the kind of egotistical, self-serving politics of the people and establishments fans think those artists are parodying.
"Cooper’s drunk-with-the-promise-of-power performance reminded me of nobody so much as Donald Trump. Like Cooper, Trump is an entertainer moving into politics, using showbiz techniques that bypass reasoned analysis and policy proposals and instead conjure a baseless aura of authority."
Chronologically speaking Cooper's braggadocios brand of satirical/protest rock predicted someone like Trump running for president. But what Cooper's repetitious joke political runs truly unveil is that we've ended up in similar circumstances decade after decade.
Reynolds recalls how fans lamented for an Alice Cooper who possessed the hopeful glimmer of having a true anti-establishment figure in the spotlight. Instead what they got were well-off men in tight pants capitalizing off of politics without ever actually proving they cared about the people directly affected by it.
Reynolds' 2016 article ends on a hopeful note, though. November 8th of 2016 hadn't happened yet and many believed Hillary Clinton had a chance at winning. Most of us were under the spell of famous actors and musicians, like Cooper, shoveling out performative denunciations of a Trump presidency.
Cooper performed "Elected" again in April of 2016, announcing another gag-run for presidency. There was no need to change the words of a song written in the '70s for a presidential election happening in 2016.
What's truly funny about Alice Cooper's presidential slogan: A troubled man for troubled times is that troubled men have always been the champions of our perpetual state of chaos. And as long as troubled men continue to succeed in a place where success is synonymous with power, wealth, and greed, we'll always have presidential campaigns and songs that seem ripe with the answers to progress, but are just spoiled, decade old ideals upholding spoiled establishments when you cut them open.
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