Thursday, June 30, 2011

John a Republican?

Over the course of yesterday, much was made of this story:

John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death - according to the tragic Beatles star's last personal assistant.

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn't the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, "John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

My two cents

It's no secret that by the late 1970s John had drifted away from radical politics. In those years, he was far more concerned with family life - as a husband to Yoko and a father to Sean - than anything else. Perhaps he felt that he had outgrown the "Imagine"/Sometime in New York City side of himself. Seaman notes how John sometimes even expressed embarrassment over his activist years. But we've heard this before; Seaman wasn't the first to point it out.

The juicier part of the story deals with John's alleged fondness for Ronald Reagan, who remains an icon of the American Right. My guess is that, had John actually cast a ballot for Reagan, he would've done so as a disaffected voter and not as a thoroughgoing conservative or Republican. I don't buy that such a massive conversion had taken place. A more likely scenario is that, as someone who had retreated from political engagement, John was wary of the status quo (i.e., "really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter"), found the Gipper appealing on a personal level, and thought that was reason enough to support him. As Seaman suggests, another possibility is that John was simply being provocative. But a Republican? I'm not at all convinced.

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