In someone’s condescending imagination a 27-year-old college graduate burdened by student debt, an unsatisfying job, stress in the present, and fear of the future is looking to Lil Jon for voting advice.
This is the thinking of Rock the Vote, a youth voter advocacy group that has taken pains and then inflicted them on the American people to produce a video starring the crunk laureate and an election edition of his trudging club hit, “Turn Down for What.” Weird Al this is not. The song is now “Turn Out for What,” and so ambitious was the rewrite that it also changed the lyrics “Fire up loud / Another round of shots” to “Rock the vote / Rock the vote.” Poets quiver.
The advertisement parades celebrities so nondescript they could pass for commoners to tell us what issues are drawing them to the polls this November. In order (hold your breath, it’s a long way down), they are: education, marriage equality, reproductive rights, human rights, prison reform, gun control, global warming, women’s rights, deforestation, the legalization of weed, global warming again, and racial equality. Nowhere is there a mention of jobs. But then a subliminal flash of words to cover what the semi-famous may have missed: voting rights, worker’s rights, student loan debt, health care reform (the protection thereof), animal cruelty, veteran’s rights, police brutality, global warming (a third time), and immigration.
Millennials Aren’t Mindless Vote Drones
The effective unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year-olds is near 15 percent. For the 85 percent, their work is hardly assured to match their skill level: “[W]hile finding a job has become easier for recent college graduates over the past few years, finding a good job has not, and doing so is likely to remain a challenge for some time to come,” write New York Fed economists Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz. More than half of millennials are living paycheck to paycheck.
“Yes, but is the income direct-deposited?” Rock the Vote’s concept of a young voter asks. “Fight deforestation: no paper checks.” Nothing motivates a young adult more than the chance to crack down on logging, and there is no prouder sticker than the one that reads “I voted by electronic ballot.”
Rock the Vote is insultingly complicit in debasing young minds. It suggests that the average millennial is gullible, vacant, and motivated solely by a want of social activism and self-indulgence. It is also phony. Its new ad pays lip service to student debt and says nothing more of economic circumstances. The video instead implies a preference for a carbon tax, abortion rights, gun control, union power, Obamacare, amnesty, and a slew of left-of-center pet issues.
Also Totally Partisan
Yet the group has the gall to say it’s nonpartisan. Here is what is highly partisan: Rock the Vote’s president has a decade of experience campaigning for Democrats at the congressional and presidential levels, its spokesperson served in the same capacity for a New York City Democratic politician and as a junior aide to Hillary, and its director of strategic partnerships was an investment official for a network of liberal donors. The skew is not new: Its former political director became the youth director of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
To conservatives and the politically immersed, these facts are not secrets. To young voters, they are eclipsed by a disc of legitimacy, impartiality, and hipness. The sun is due to emerge. Let’s shed a ray of light on the truth: Rock the Vote professes to advocate for millennials while angling to be their ideological master. It wants to encourage debate, so long as it takes place within the confines of one political philosophy.
It is yet another institution waging war on the young voter’s brainpower. Colleges purport to promote diversity of thought on campus, but they rescind honors (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) and speaking invitations (George Will), their faculties bully speakers into withdrawing (Condoleezza Rice), and they book twice as many Democrats as Republicans. Health organizations just want you to #GetCovered so you can be insured in the event of hookup or injury by kegstand. They use a Richard Simmons dance routine and Zach Galifianakis to persuade you. Rock the Vote uses Lil Jon and Lena Dunham. All of these parties respect millennials’ intelligence so much that they insult it by presenting half the story. And for those who are disinclined to listen, they enlist fame and celebrity to tell it. Poorly.
This is what the self-proclaimed cool, academic, entrenched and powerful interests in society think of the young. It should inspire the young to think little of them and more for themselves.