The Real Reason Rock the Vote is Falling Apart

by LEE BALLINGER

Rock the Vote is in shambles. According to a February 7 LA Times article by Charles Duhigg, the organization is $700,000 in debt and has cut its staff from twenty people in 2004 to two today. Rock the Vote hasn’t had a chief operating officer since the last Presidential election.

Duhigg attributes the crisis to overspending in non-election years and to the opportunism of the music industry executives who dominate the group’s board and use Rock the Vote primarily to promote their own artists.

Rock the Vote has a more fundamental problem: It has hitched its star to politicians who are completely hostile to the needs and desires of the American people. For example, check out the political hacks it has chosen to bestow its Rock the Nation Award upon.

There’s Bill Clinton, who presided over the 1996 Democratic Party convention which removed universal health care from the party platform even though more than 70 per cent of Americans are in favor of it.

There’s Hilary Rosen, who was head of the RIAA at the time she was honored. Rosen rocked the nation by launching the war against file-sharing. Sharing music on-line is, to say the least, wildly popular.

There’s Hillary Clinton, who, despite the unpopularity of the war in Iraq, has called for sending 80,000 more of our sons and daughters to the slaughter.

In June 2005, the Rock the Nation Award went to John McCain, one month after the Arizona Senator was part of the 100-0 Senate vote to approve Bush’s war funding bill. In his acceptance speech, McCain introduced himself as "Funk Master McCain." Since then, Funk Master McCain has kept busy campaigning for California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose November ballot initiatives to cripple unions and give himself unsupervised power to gut social programs were soundly defeated by California voters.

In 2004, Rock the Vote, under the leadership of Jehmu Greene (who came to the organization directly from serving as Southern Political Director of the Democratic National Committee), registered 1.4 million voters in an effort to elect John Kerry. On March 2 of this year Kerry was one of 89 Senators who voted to make the Patriot Act permanent, even though more than 250 U.S. cities have passed resolutions calling for it to be abolished.

One of Rock the Vote’s few high points came in the early 1990s when the organization aired over 175 public service announcements in which artists gave their frank views on democracy. Our favorite was Ice-T’s. "I’m as anti ‘the system’ as you could possibly be," he said. "We’ve got two options–the vote or hostile takeover. I’m down with either one."

In other words, voter registration as a tactic can be useful when it’s part of an effort to transform the system. When voter registration is used as a strategy, what you get is Rock the Vote. It won’t be missed.

LEE BALLINGER is coeditor of one of CounterPunch’s favorite newsletters, Rock and Rap Confidential, where this article originally appeared. He can be reached at: Rockrap@aol.com

For a free copy of the latest RRC issue, email your postal address to: RRC, Box 341305, LA CA 90034 or send an email to: Rockrap@aol.com


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal