So now it’s cool to vote?

Oct 062004
Authors: Casey Cisneros

This election year, people in the public eye have taken it upon

themselves to get young adults age 18 to 24 to vote in the upcoming


Earlier this year, efforts started out with people like Russell

Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Records, setting up forums where

young people can register to vote and be educated by rappers and

other keynote speakers on the issues that will affect them in the

upcoming election. Forums like the Hip-Hop Summit and Action

Network are very useful today because it is nearly impossible for

politicians to make young adults care about voting.

There is too much of a communication barrier between 18- to

24-year-olds and those who are running for office. Political

language oftentimes comes off as formal, dry, boring, outdated and

insincere. I can appreciate musicians trying to serve as mediators

between young voters and politicians. Musicians can talk about

politics to their fans without using all the political babble that

dilutes the message. However, tactics have changed.

At the 2004 MTV Music Awards, it was not hard to decipher the

overall theme of the night. Almost every person who had the chance

to speak encouraged the audience and viewers to vote. I didn’t care

that the people at the awards show sounded like a broken record,

but when Puff Daddy presented the audience with his own slogan for

the election, “Vote or Die,” I became very resentful. I realized

that some people with influence, such as Puff Daddy, were drawing a

line in the sand, separating voters from nonvoters, the cool from

the uncool. MTV and its cohorts had turned voting into a popularity


At the beginning of the school year, when one of my professors

asked who had voted in the past, everyone in the class raised their

hand immediately. Although I had never voted before, I put my hand

up in the air out of fear of being singled out for not doing what

is now considered the popular thing to do. People who choose not to

vote have every right to make that choice, and we should not look

down upon their decision just because right now it’s cool to


The reason some people, such as Russell Simmons, have invested

so much time and effort into this election is not to make a

statement about themselves, but rather to get people ready to go

out and make a statement about this country. Everyone keeps on

saying that so much is riding on this one presidential election,

and I believe it, but we need to get past the voting sensationalism

that is building up in the media. The people I want to see vote in

the election are not the ones who are doing it because television

told them to; they’re the ones who are actually concerned about the


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