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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Celebrity and Media Political Endorsements

Celebrity and Media Political Endorsements Fail for Political Candidates

Almost all of the major newspapers endorsed John Kerry, and everyone from P.Diddy, Bruce Springsteen and James Taylor gave concerts and appeared in support of Kerry. Yet he lost. What happened?

Did he lose the Middle American voters for his liberal views? Did he seem too aloof, stiff and insincere for a Democratic candidate? Or did he rely too heavily on his celebrity endorsements to pool the young voters?

Only one in ten voters were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four in the Presidential election, which is about the same as in the 2000 campaign, despite all the energy by national personalities to encourage young voters. Other studies done, however, show that polls with voters ages eighteen to twenty-three, an age group of mostly college students had an impressive 3.4 million turn out this year. Could education be linked with voting?

As far as the media endorsements are concerned, the public today has access to just as much information as the media and therefore doesn’t rely on them anymore to tell who to support. Media political endorsements have gone the way of the dodo bird.

In terms of the relationship between the media and this year’s election, there are two large problems: ignorance of young voters and poor choices for role models on the part of the candidates.

I believe Winston Churchill once said, “If you are under thirty, and you vote conservatively, you don’t have a heart….if you are over thirty and you vote liberally, you don’t have a brain.”

Perhaps these movie stars, rock stars and even P.Diddy should stick to what they do best - buying over the top jewelry and entertaining us common people. I mean it’s all well and good that even teen celebrities used this campaign to urge their fans to register, but with all due respect, was their idea to join on this recent trend of civic duty theirs or their publicist’s hope to better their image?

It seemed that every kind of celebrity was urging young people to vote. While I commend their efforts, I find it hard to be inspired by P.Diddy’s slogan like “Vote or Die”. Young voters tend to vote with their heart and that generally applies to a more Left wing view. “I want to be inspired. I want to be taken seriously. I don’t want the idea of someone shooting me in the chest if I don’t make it to the polls,” says Elizabeth Moran, twenty-one year old of Milton, Mass.

And not to pick on Sean “Puffy” Combs, but his slogan is simply a joke and frankly an insult to young voters. “I guess Puffy will be killing a lot of people this week,” jokes Dan McDermott, twenty-two, of Norwood, Mass.

Why didn’t someone advise Kerry to pick more suitable celebrity endorsers? Who made the decision to have Bruce Springsteen be the voice of the young American? Maybe that would have been a great choice in 1988, but last time I looked, “the Boss” is a little too old for this campaign. “I mean, Bruce Springsteen is really not someone I’m into, he’s more for a thirty-five year old,” admits Virginia Kelley, a twenty-two year old student at Boston College.

The only true celebrities that young voters listen to are the comedians. The ones that think intellectually and sarcastically just like normal young people in America.

Chris Rock’s HBO special “Never Scared” is a perfect example; a true genius performance that was hilarious and entertaining, yet had an overtone of pure intellectual insight on our country today. Why didn’t Kerry have him involved in his campaign?

Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”, a news satire, is the only show on television that young voters get their news from. Studies show that most young people in America get their news from that show, even though the show doesn’t attempt to give accurate news.

Instead of concerts, slogans and advertising, celebrities and politicians alike should do one thing- educate instead of patronize young voters. Show them how to register to vote, how to file for absentee ballots and urge them to go to the polls. Then they will see a difference in young people voting.

The fact of the matter is young people are never told how to vote and it’s amazing that in a huge part of the country, voting education is gone mostly unnoticed in schools and homes. Young people lack the wisdom and life experience to note the long term benefits of voting, therefore they must be taught. Not just about our history as Americans but on ways we can change it.

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