Don’t let P. Diddy, CNN tell you what to think

Will McCullough

Organizations aimed at the mobilization of the youth voting block of America were mysteriously inconspicuous during the period leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections. Throughout the ’90s I spent my Octobers and early Novembers wondering what it meant to “Rock the Vote.” This time two years ago I was petrified, receiving daily death threats from P. Diddy and Villanova’s own 50 Cent, being told daily “Vote or Die.” The two organizations are silent this time around. Generally speaking, I did not hear anything about trying to mobilize the youth voting block. This could be due to my watching less television, but I have a sneaky suspicion the absence was due to a pervading sense of apathy within or about the youth.

At this point, it is simply not worth millions of dollars to advertise to us. Perhaps it’s not worth it because the techniques they insist on using seem compulsory in nature. I mean, what 18-to 24-year-old wouldn’t respond to being told what to do?

After some thought, I would have to say almost every 18- to 24-year-old responds negatively to orders. Regardless, even if a less condescending approach were used, in a similar effort, I still doubt any significant response.

The death threats were gone, and on TV we had only news programs and campaign ads to guide our decision. I’ll admit that I usually can not really stand listening to or watching a politician for more than a few minutes on television. Much has been made of their ability to use an over abundance of words to express a relatively small amount of misrepresented information. To some extent that’s their job, but it certainly is painful to listen to. A program on any one of the 24-hour news channels can prove equally as painful, not because I am disinterested in the subject matter but because those who are speaking can seem wholly disingenuous.

An alternative that I am sure most of you are aware of, is to watch the satire of Jon Stewart and the irony of Stephen Colbert. According to some, the pair produces the most accurate newscasts on television; for many this is their only source of news. I say faux pas!

Read about what it is you care about. A scary thought, I know, but I assure you it is a worthy one. It isn’t that difficult: this publication is available every Thursday, there are three national newspapers available daily around campus and innumerable news Web sites are updated constantly.

An even scarier notion would have been to take time out of your busy day to see a politician speak in person. This past Saturday there was a series of campaign rallies for the Democratic Party, designed to inspire the base around the Democratic candidates. I know some of you may have been entirely put off by those candidates, or frankly not have even cared, because you couldn’t have voted for any of them.

The rallies featured speakers that I feel were universally appealing, regardless of your political affiliation: Al Gore or Barack Obama. Gore, being a former vice president, presidential candidate and a current champion of the environment, would definitely have been worth seeing. Instead my friends and I decided to go to a rally featuring Senator Obama. He is unequivocally one of the most powerful speakers around today. (If you don’t believe me, search his DNC address from two years ago on The appeal, for me, was void of any political affiliations.

Granted, the occasion on which he spoke dictated the tone of his speech which may have not interested, or may even have offended, some. However, he could quite possibly be the first African-American president of the country. I certainly was not going to miss the opportunity to see someone of that oratorical ability and potential historical significance.

Still, I suspect some may have been turned off by the occasion. Maybe some could have been turned off by the 15-minute car ride or the early hour of its starting, 2.30 p.m.

Lucky for you, this school is presenting you with an opportunity which could refute some objections: Senator Arlen Specter (R) will be in Bartley 1011 today at 4 p.m. I implore you to go; I know it’s after the elections, but please go and listen.

The absurdity with which most things political seem on television cannot be escaped.

Whether it is death threats, scandals, speeches, interviews or satires, television has an uncanny ability to make it seem to be of something almost beyond reality.

The danger is to accept this portrayal as reality, which can easily produce an effect of apathy. Don’t let this happen. Read and experience it for yourself!