"Country music itself is in a pretty strange place, too. It's arguably the only music genre that would dethrone its reigning queens for an off-hand political comment. But many Americans watching the Chicks fall from Country grace were not surprised by the backlash. Country music has conservatism in its DNA, right? Not quite. Country music married into the conservative movement -- it wasn't born there. Country music's roots are as much populist as reactionary. Always fiercely allied with working people, the earliest country stars were old enough to have campaigned for populist champions like Tom Watson; FDR was celebrated in songs of the Depression; and Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were feted by liberals for speaking up for the downtrodden in the '60s. Country music only became synonymous with mainline conservatism -- indeed, only became consistently political -- in the late '60s, a shift that not only helped buoy Richard Nixon into the White House, but reshaped the media landscape. The wars of the Dixie Chicks are the legacy of these years, but so are Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Fox News -- the conservative noise machine itself. The idea of values-based marketing to conservatives began with country music."
I wouldn't go quite THAT far (after all, Tim McGraw is a Democrat who even talks at times about running for Governor of Tennesse some day and the Country Format v The Dixie Chicks issues are more about their terrible handling of literally every opportunity to "Make Nice" over the last three years than it is political), but his hypothsis is indeed fascinating to roll around in your brain, eh?