With mid term elections turnout the lowest in 70 years, engaging, energizing and mobilizing young people into the political process is critical, and artists are key.
My son and I have a musical education and appreciation agreement. We each get to introduce the other to music we love and which the other is not likely to be exposed to (From Opera to Vampire Weekend: My Musical Explorations with Son). I brought artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Opera, Fleetwood Mac, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and he introduced me to Vampire Weekend, Death Cab for Cutie, JD McPherson, and Julian Casablancas, among many others.
I have to admit that without my son, I would probably not listen to many of these artists that I have now taken quite a liking to. Julian Casablancas and The Strokes, and now The Voidz, were definitely a stretch for me, but they turned out to be a delightful surprise.
In his last album Tyranny, (his first with new band The Voidz), Julian explores an impressive list of serious, meaningful, and thought provoking issues of morality and self absorption as well as various aspects and ways in which twenty-first century democracy is broken.
For this album, Julian released the lyrics to all the songs, helping on some tracks where, as Julian pointed out to producer Shaun Everitt, “that sounds amazing, but it would be nice to be able to make out the words.”
From his blissful and elegant 11 minute “Human Sadness,” talking about alienation and self absorption (excerpt):
“put money in my hand
and I will do the things you want me to
Usually common sense
Understanding is more important than love
If not money will always trump justice”
to the more punkish but equally satisfying “Where No Eagles Fly,” where he explores the indifference and greed of modern democracy (excerpt):
“fly on the wall, bird of prey in the mall
it’s the eye in the sky, where no eagles fly
predators eat meat
predators eat meat.
Ceremony or a speech,
In a church or on a beach,
business, business, I forget
pray for predators I guess
uh-oh, uh-oh, here we go, all our future’s thru that door
future future’s come to this, everybody cheats I guess
let’s go down to mexico, ‘there’s a couple guys I know’
Julian uses his unique musical style to convey his insight on these issues of great meaning and importance to his multi generational fan base and hopefully generate debate.
In the mid-term elections, November 4, 2014, many younger voters stayed away. It is estimated that the turnout was only 36.6%, representing the lowest turnout of any election in the United States since 1942 (more than 70 years).
On election day, Gallup found that less than half of voters had given much thought to the election, and that there had been a 10-point drop in the number of people “certain” they’d vote since 2010. Independent voters, in particular, simply did not care much for the choices they had.
As is typical of mid-term elections, young people (18-29), did not turn out in high numbers (only 21.3% or about 9.9 million). Tufts University’s Tisch College Associate Dean Peter Levine explained:
“Although this was a wave election for the GOP, youth still tended to vote Democratic, In the national exit poll data on House races, 10-29 year-olds preferred Democratic candidates by 54 [percent] to 43 [percent]…in many close Senatorial and gubernatorial races, youth preferred the Democratic candidates, and in some states, like Florida, they were the only group that did.”
Young people (along with women and minorities), are critical for appropriate representation of the American people in local, state and the federal governments. Let’s hope that many artists, like Julian Casablancas, will continue to express themselves and create more and more art that will explore the serious issues facing our culture, society and democracy. In turn they will inspire, engage, and mobilize more young people to get involved in making this country and democracy the best it can and should be.
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