Bruce Springsteen could have won the White House had he decided to run. Which is why, instead of spending millions on advisors and ad campaign, U.S. Presidential hopefuls would be better served by attending a Springsteen concert (conveniently he is on tour) and internalizing a few crucial lessons.
So here are the Boss' lessons for winning the White House:
Springsteen turns 67 in just a few weeks so he is almost the same age with Hillary Clinton (68) and Donald Trump (70). He is in great shape and in no need of presenting his health records since he just broke his own record for the longest concert performed on U.S. soil (it clocked at 3 hours and 59 minutes). Staying fit and in great shape clearly pays off if you wanna survive a grueling Presidential campaign and the rigors of the White House.
Give preferential treatment, but do it fairly and transparently.
There is a huge ongoing debate about giving access to big donors and party hacks. Hypocrisy aside, the truth is that presidential candidates and politicians will reward those willing to actively support their candidacies. There is no getting around this fact. But they can learn a lot from the Boss. The best place to be at a Springsteen concert is right in front of the stage. This requires a GA ticket (worth hundreds of dollars in the secondary market), patience, dedication and determination. Fans will always spend this kind of money to assure the best access. But the Boss is fair and transparent. For GA ticket holders there is a lottery that determines the order in which they enter the arena. Everyone sees this happen, monitors the process and hence everyone accepts it. Everyone is both equal and privileged at the same time. Hope Trump and Clinton are paying attention.
Work the crowd.
During a Springsteen concert, the fans are showered with attention. In his recent Chicago concert no fewer than three were chosen to dance with the Boss during "Dancing in the Dark"; a little girl was selected to accompany him singing "Waitin' On a Sunny Day" (she did such a good job she was proclaimed to be the future of Rock N Roll); several song sign requests wee honored; the Boss crowd surfed (and someone passed him a copy of the Constitution!); dozens of hands were shaken and countless fans acknowledged. If a presidential candidate could approach a crowd with half this kind of enthusiasm and gusto victory would have been assured.
Do not ignore the world.
Springsteen, it is often said, is as American as apple pie. This is true but it is also a fact that he is immensely popular around the world. He is probably bigger in Europe today, than he is in the States. Springsteen does not disavow his American roots or themes. He will often perform "Born in the USA" in front of foreign audiences (and on rare occasion even "Jersey Girl"). But Springsteen does not ignore the world outside America. He constantly tours it and has figured out how to gain international respect and attention. Donald Trump, are you paying attention?
Stay on message but also surprise.
If you attend a Springsteen concert nowadays there are certain expectations that will be met. "Born to Run" will be performed with all the lights on. "Rosalita" will be as riotous as ever. "The Rising" and "Badlands" will get them fists in the air and a crowd sing a long. "The River" will almost reduce you to tears. In effect, the Boss stays on message and thus pleases immensely. But he always surprises, always comes up with something new and unexpected (on Sunday in Chicago it was the obscure "Born in the USA" outtake "None But the Brave"). Presidential candidates should similarly reassure and uphold the basic tenets of their respective political bases. But they should also evolve, be open to some change and to new approaches.
Read and listen.
Springsteen is about to publish his autobiography, inevitably titled Born to Run. I remember a few years back seeing a photograph of him in his study with a biography of the controversial Founding Father Aaron Burr. His songs are often inspired by movies and novels. His literary tastes are impeccable. Springsteen attended no college but is knowledgeable and intellectually curious -- a true autodidact. He travels the country incessantly; and he listens and interacts all the time with "real people" in his home State of New Jersey where he has chosen to reside. No secluded Hollywood Hills life for him. If only all presidential candidates followed his footsteps...
So yes, Bruce Springsteen could have won the White House. But why be president for at most two terms, when you can be The Boss for life?