“Vote or Die!” was the mantra for the 2004 presidential election. If votes were flu shots, then many young people would be sick.
The question remains: Did we rock the vote?
According to Jay Strell, spokesman for Rock the Vote, a campaign that targets voters from ages 18 to 25, youth turnout was impressive.
With the war in Iraq and issues of economy, morals and a potential draft, many of the topics in the political arena impacted young voters and seemed to increase their numbers at the polls.
With high numbers of conservatives and youth taking to the polls, the 2004 election was the highest in overall turnout (60.8 percent) since 1968.
Reports indicated that the youth vote made up 10 percent of the electorate vote for first-time voters, which is the same proportion as in 2000. Consequently, a rise in overall voter turnout left the percentage of youth votes stagnant at 6 percent.
On issues of moral values, young people supported George W. Bush, whereas with issues of economy and jobs voters chose Sen. John Kerry.
Hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Citizen Change campaign cast stars like Mary J. Blige, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to push youth out in droves to the polls.
Another question is proposed: Was youth vote enough to make a difference?
While college campuses and various organizations drove the expectations of youth voting to be particularly high this past election, few in the spotlight followed through with their commitments to increase young people turnout, by choosing not to vote themselves.
Boosting the voter turnout among the youth should not prevent artists and celebrities from exercising their own privilege to vote.
Rap artists such as Ludacris, 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks, and celebrity Paris Hilton all chose not to participate in the 2004 election, giving the impression that if celebrities do not vote, then why should the youth? But, a new emergence of young voters gives power to causes that matter most. While youth vote did not swing towards one particular group, youth voice counted.
Better rock next time.