Smackdown Your Vote!

9/22/03 Press Conference Coverage

The Atlanta Journal – Constitution Rappers, wrestlers push vote campaign

RENUKA RAYASAM

23 September 2003

Washington — If war, terrorism and a recession aren’t enough to persuade the under- 30 crowd to vote, maybe hip-hop stars and wrestlers can do it.

Members of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and World Wrestling Entertainment’s Smackdown Your Vote joined political activists Monday in kicking off an effort to register 2 million more voters between the ages of 18 and 30.

”Many people across the world pay attention to the words of [rappers] Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Rev. Run and others, much more than they do any politician,” said Russell Simmons, chairman of the hip-hop network.

Simmons’ brother, Rev. Run of the group Run-DMC, broke into a rap about the virtues of voting.

”Preach on a Sunday, rap on a Monday. Y’all do what Run say, to get better one day,” he rapped, dressed in a black suit and priest’s collar.

”A lot of young people look up to us,” said Maven Huffman, a WWE star with a shaved head and massive biceps. ”I can take that excitement and enthusiasm and turn it to voting.”

He was joined by Vince McMahon, chairman of the wrestling organization and Bradshaw, another WWE star whose stock-picking prowess and personal finance book has landed him spots on several financial news shows.

Only 29 percent of eligible 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the 2000 presidential election, compared with 54 percent of eligible voters, according to the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.

”We have to reverse the process where old people are the only ones in charge of the futures of young people,” said Simmons, who owns the Phat Farm clothing line, and a hip-hop production company.

Using celebrities to bring young voters to the ballot box hasn’t worked that well in the past, according to Rashad Robinson, national field director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, a nonprofit organization.

The Smackdown Your Vote campaign did manage to register 150,000 voters for the last presidential election after it started in July 2000. Since the election, the group has registered more than 400,000 voters.

NPR: Morning Edition   Profile: Hip-hop and World Wrestling Entertainment join forces to register voters

23 September 2003

BOB EDWARDS, host:

An unusual coalition is trying to encourage more young people to vote. World Wrestling Entertainment, a professional wrestling operation, and Hip-Hop Action Summit, a social advocacy network, are joining forces for the 2004 election.

Mr. VINCE McMAHON (WWE): Wow, the WWE and hip-hop together. There goes the neighborhood, huh?

EDWARDS: That’s Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment. His Smackdown Your Vote campaign and Hip-Hop Team Vote will share a non-partisan mission: to register two million more young people than in the presidential race of 2000. McMahon said yesterday nothing appeals to young people more than hip-hop and wrestling.

Mr. McMAHON: When you think about it, we’re asking young people of America to practice themselves what we as performers in both worlds enjoy so much, the freedom of expression. And the greatest freedom of expression that there can be in this country is to vote.

EDWARDS: For hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, the project sends a message that voting is an `in’ thing, like buying a hot CD on the day it’s released.

Mr. RUSSELL SIMMONS (Entrepreneur): On Tuesday, they go to the record store. The new record is out. A million people may come home with the new Jay-Z record just on that one Tuesday.

EDWARDS: The rapper Reverend Run of Run DMC also compared the voter registration campaign to grabbing record sales.

REVEREND RUN (Run DMC): It’s my job to make sure that we get some sales here. And when I say sales, I believe that we’re going to go platinum, more than double platinum. They say two million. I believe it’ll be more, and my job is to make sure that it happens.

EDWARDS: Several groups, including the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, have signed on to the Two Million More in 2004 campaign. Russell Simmons says appearances by wrestlers and rap artists in public service announcements will get even more young people interested in the democratic process.

Mr. SIMMONS: Many people across the world pay attention to the words of Jay-Z and Eminem and 50 Cent, Reverend Run and others much more than they do George Bush, much more than they do any politician, for that matter–Howard Dean or anybody else.

EDWARDS: Previous efforts to encourage more 18- to 30-year-olds to vote have not had much success. Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, says grassroots recruiting has more promise than a media blitz.

Mr. ANDREW KOHUT (Pew Research Center): So if you really want to get young people out to vote, you’d better have some of those rap artists or wrestlers giving the young people calls on Election Day or even before Election Day and getting them to register. It’s the personal push that young people need more so than the media campaign.

EDWARDS: The Two Million More partnership will use media announcements and events across the country, registering young people at concerts and colleges. Some of them might even hear Reverend Run on their answering machine.

REVEREND RUN: Preach on a Sunday, rap on a Monday, y’all do what Run say, to get better one day. Just because Rev Run got a collar don’t mean I can’t make a dollar, so y’all holler.

Associated Press Charleston Gazette

Chicago Tribune

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Yahoo! News

Wrestling, hip-hop leaders team up to register young voters

Sam Hananel The Associated Press

22 – 23 September 2003

WASHINGTON – The body-slamming promoters of professional wrestling and the mavens of hip-hop music are teaming up to bring their fans to what may be an unfamiliar place – the voting booth.

The unlikely partnership between World Wrestling Entertainment and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network – called "Smackdown Your Vote!" – wants to get 2 million more 18- to 30-year-olds to register and cast their votes in the 2004 presidential election than did in 2000.

"Wow. The WWE and hip hop together – there goes the neighborhood, huh?" quipped WWE chairman Vince McMahon at a news conference Monday. He was joined by Rev. Run, aka Joseph Simmons, of the hip-hop group Run-DMC and wrestling stars Bradshaw and Maven, among others.

Known more for promoting bone-jarring wrestling spectacles than for his political savvy, McMahon said the two groups are forming a "tag team championship combination to go out and find these new people, sign them up and get them to vote."

The groups will register voters at hip-hop concerts and wrestling events around the country, hold rallies at colleges and high schools and create public service announcements to promote voter registration and voting.

"We’re going to work hard and inform young people why voting is important," said Benjamin Chavis, CEO and president of the action network, an education advocacy group founded by music mogul Russell Simmons. "If young people understand that voting can change their living conditions, they will vote."

Overall voting rates have dropped from 63 percent in 1960 to 50 percent in 2000, according to Curtis Gans, who studies voter turnout as director of the Committee for Study of the American Electorate. Turnout of young adults between 18 and 24 has dropped to about three in 10, Gans said.

The nonpartisan partnership also plans to unveil a report on issues important to young voters shortly before the New Hampshire presidential primary, tentatively set for Jan. 27.

The action network has already organized nearly a dozen concerts to promote voter registration in major cities this year. At its most recent hip-hop summit in Philadelphia, organizers registered more than 11,000 new voters.

Newsday Wrestlers, Rappers Urge Voting

By Robert Gutsche Jr. WASHINGTON BUREAU

23 September 2003

Washington – If they won’t listen to politicians, professors or parents, maybe America’s youth will listen to wrestlers and rappers.

That’s what the folks behind "Smackdown Your Vote!" are hoping as they kick off a campaign to register more than 2 million people between the ages of 18 and 30 for the 2004 presidential election.

Yesterday, Queens’ own Joseph Simmons, better known as Rev. Run of the pioneering rap group Run DMC, was joined at a news conference by his big brother, and Def Jam Recordings founder, Russell Simmons and World Wrestling Entertainment’s chairman Vince McMahon to announce the registration campaign. Beginning this week wrestling stars and hip-hop artists will visit colleges and high schools across the country to help register voters.

"The potential that we have [among the youth] hasn’t always been utilized," said Russell Simmons, chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action network, a national coalition of hip-hop artists and youth leaders that tries to get youth involved with social issues and politics. "Today, we promise that we’ll use it."

Eligible voters under 25 are significantly less likely than others to participate in elections and often feel distanced from politics, according to the Youth Vote Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based national nonpartisan coalition of organizations. The group, which is dedicated to increasing political and civic participation among young people, supports the Smackdown program.

Smackdown, first organized by WWE, registered more than 400,000 voters for the 2000 presidential election.

"The greatest freedom of expression that there can be in this country is to vote," McMahon said.

The Washington Post

NAMES & FACES

23 September 2003

Twisting Arms & Bending Ears

What do hip-hop and professional wrestling have in common? Until yesterday, not much. Now they have something called "Smackdown Your Vote!," which brings Russell Simmons’s Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) together in an effort to get 2 million 18-to-30-year-olds to register and vote in the upcoming election. They call — or rap — it "Two million more by 2004."

Yesterday Simmons, his brother Joseph — aka Rev. Run of Run-DMC, who unfortunately wasn’t wearing his trademark Adidas shoes, but did rap briefly — WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, professional wrestlers Maven and Bradshaw, and others came to Washington in support of their cause.

"Wow. The WWE and hip-hop together — there goes the neighborhood," McMahon said yesterday at the National Press Club. The two groups, he said, will be "a tag-team championship combination to go out and find these new people, sign them up and get them to vote."

Meanwhile, Rev. Run put things in a musical perspective, explaining that reaching their registration goal would be the equivalent of having an album go double platinum.

"Our goal is to encourage as many young people in today’s society to take an active part in the voting process," the 26-year-old Maven told us from MCI Center — where he was prepping for a match. "Simmons sees the avenues of availability so closely linked with today’s young people. It’s just a win-win combination.

"Every week we’re in schools talking about voting. . . . No, we’re not scaring anyone into voting," Maven said with a laugh. "We just encourage them."


EDITORIAL

OTHER VIEWS

WRESTLERS, RAPPERS TRY TO WAKE UP YOUNG VOTERS

Clarence Page, Tribune Media Services

25 September 2003

Orlando Sentinel, Newsday

WASHINGTON — When you think about it, the idea of rappers and wrestlers getting together to lure young people to the polls is not such an outlandish concept.

After all, the two entertainment industries have so much in common:

Each panders with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the overheated fantasies of teenage males.

Each operates in a pretend world — professional wrestling pretends that it’s a sport, and a lot of rap is only pretending to be music.

And, most important for our current discussion, each has superstars seen and heard by loyal young fans who don’t want to see or hear much of anything else their elders have to say.

It was upon this common ground that hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records and the Hip Hop Action Summit Network, came together at the National Press Club earlier this week with professional wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment.

They were jointly announcing "Smackdown Your Vote!", a national campaign to persuade 2 million more 18-to-30-year-olds to register and vote in the 2004 presidential election than registered and voted in 2000. That year, the wrestlers registered more than 15,000 people before the November elections.

"Wow. The WWE and hip hop together," the big-haired McMahon quipped. "There goes the neighborhood, huh?"

Simmons, accompanied by his younger brother, Rev. Run, aka Joseph Simmons of the golden-oldy hip-hoppers Run-DMC, said he looked forward to marketing the obligation to vote as effectively as he has marketed rappers like DMX, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Jay-Z, whom he has said are "more powerful than George Bush, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and [Donald] Rumsfeld put together for young people across the world."

Whatever you think of his musical tastes, Simmons, 45, is a business genius of our times. He founded Def Jam in 1984 and expanded later into TV shows (Def Comedy Jam on BET, Def Poetry on HBO), movies (The Nutty Professor starring Eddie Murphy), Broadway (Def Poetry on Broadway, which won a Tony) and clothing (Phat Farm).

And, like other impresarios, Simmons couldn’t resist the lure of the high-stakes entertainment industry known as politics. He co-founded the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network in 2001 with Benjamin Chavis, who many will remember for being fired in 1994 as executive director of the NAACP.

"Now I’m back to doing what I’ve always really wanted to do," he told me at the Washington news conference. The Hip Hop network is a nonprofit coalition of rappers, music executives and political activists of old and new schools of thought.

The big question is, will the voter registration push work? There have been earlier efforts like MTV’s "Rock the Vote" and radio disk jockey Tom Joyner’s national bus tour for voter registration prior to the 2000 election. The under-25 crowd still has a voter turnout rate of slightly more than 30 percent, compared to a two-thirds turnout for the over-45 crowd.

Even in 1992, when the turnout of voters under age 25 was the highest of any year since 18-year-olds first got the vote in 1972, the turnout of all other voters also surged upward, leaving the usual margin between young and old.

Still, Simmons was optimistic, pointing out the success of Detroit’s 32-years-young Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, aka the "Hip Hop Mayor," who won in 2000 with a 40 percent increase in voters age 18 to 40 over the previous race.

Simmons has a point. All you have to do to get young people politicized is to give them someone and something to believe in.

And experience shows the most important steps such a mobilization movement can take would be to:

1. Get the youngsters registered.

2. Work a vigorous door-to-door get-out-the-vote campaign on Election Day.

3. Protect the vote, as civil-rights activists would say in the 1960s, to avoid the sort of debacle we saw in Florida in 2000.

For example, a close examination of the Florida ballots by the Chicago Tribune (as part of a consortium of eight newspapers investigating the 2000 election aftermath) found that more Floridians attempted to choose Al Gore over George W. Bush, but more Gore supporters improperly marked their ballots, leaving Bush with more valid votes.

Whether that Gore undercount was helped along by shenanigans, as some claim, or not, the best way for grassroots activists to avoid such problems is to train voters and poll workers in advance on how to vote and how to watch out for dirty tricksters.

Most important for reaching young voters is that, like other voters, somebody has to show them there’s something in it for them. Here the candidates can help. Instead of giving up on young voters, they should reach out to them. They don’t even have to be wrestlers or rock stars. They only have to take the time to show they care.

Gannett News Service

The Seattle Times

26 September 2003

Unlikely tag team to get out the vote

Derrick DePledge

Washington

WASHINGTON Hip-hop artists and professional wrestlers said this week they will use their pop-culture cool to help register 2 million young people to vote in the 2004 elections.

The voter-outreach campaign is the latest bid to reverse historically low voter turnout among young people. Fewer than a third of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in 2000, the last presidential election year.

"I believe we’re going to go more than double platinum," predicted Joseph Simmons, better known as the Rev. Run of the seminal rap group Run-DMC.

The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and World Wrestling Entertainment’s "Smackdown Your Vote!" will target 18- to 30-year- olds through a variety of events leading up to the 2004 elections. Hip-hop summits are being planned in more than a dozen cities, rallies are expected at high schools and colleges, and voter- registration tables will appear outside both wrestling and music venues.

With the help of the Youth Vote Coalition and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, the two groups will develop an issues paper for young people and go on a cross-country tour to register new voters. A database of young people contacted during the campaign will be used in get-out-the-vote drives on Elec tion Day.

Smackdown Your Vote, which wrestlers started in July 2000, registered more than 150,000 people before the last presidential election.

John Layfield, who wrestles under the name Bradshaw, said the campaign is not political but will stress voting as an important part of freedom. "America doesn’t ask much," he said, "but it does ask that you be involved."

Rock stars, actors and sports icons have made similar pitches for much of the past decade, most famously in the "Rock the Vote" campaign, but young people have remained among the least likely of any age group to vote.

Polls and studies have found that young people are more likely to be influenced politically by their peers and parents, and that personal, conversational appeals to vote in the week before an election can improve their turnout.

Russell Simmons, a hip-hop mogul best known for his work with Def Jam Recordings, said many young people are more likely to listen to voting advice from rap stars such as Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Eminem than from President Bush or former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a leading Democratic presidential candidate.

Simmons said he wants to make Election Day an event with style, much like the day a new compact disc from a popular hip-hop artist debuts.

"Young people are decision-makers and brand-builders," he said. "They are the creative ones who save us from the mistakes that adults make."

Vince McMahon, chairman of the WWE, called the venture with the hip-hop world a "tag-team championship combination." He said hip- hop artists and wrestlers value freedom of expression, adding that he hopes young people will take advantage of their freedom by voting.

Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)

WWE wants your vote — and attention; Deck head goes here goes here

26 September 2003

TextPro wrestling, at least Vince McMahon-style, has perpetually managed to create strange bedfellows and alliances with alternate social groups.

Now, World Wrestling Entertainment is teaming with rappers to create a campaign called Smackdown Your Vote!

WWE and hip-hop music is not a first-time pairing. Dating back to the early national days of McMahon’s company, its embracing of rock singer Cyndi Lauper to build interest in its early Hulk Hogan feuds struck a chord.

This time, WWE’s marriage with Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is designed to attract two million new 18-to 30-year-old voters to register and cast ballots in the 2004 presidential election.

The campaign was announced Monday. McMahon, ever the pop culture icon, told a news conference: "Wow. The WWE and hip hop together — there goes the neighborhood, huh?" Rev. Run, aka Joseph Simmons, of the hip-hop group Run-DMC was at McMahon’s side.

At a time when ratings have been slipping for wrestling for two years, McMahon is obviously reaching out to politics in an effort to gain new attention.

The combination claims to be non-partisan, though the Hip-Hop Network is heavily populated with performers and producers who have actively campaigned for Democratic candidates in the past.

The groups intend to register voters at hip-hop concerts and wrestling cards around the U.S., hold rallies at colleges and high schools and create public service announcements to promote voter registration and voting.

"We’re going to work hard and inform young people why voting is important,"said Benjamin Chavis, CEO and president of the action network, an education advocacy group founded by music mogul Russell Simmons.

Sociologists and political scientists will be studying the effort. Overall voting rates have dropped from 63 percent in 1960 to 50 percent in 2000, based on figures provided by the Committee for Study of the American Electorate. Turnout of young adults between 18 and 24 has dropped to about three in 10, according to the same survey.

The WWE and Hip-Hop coalition also plans to unveil a report on issues important to young voters shortly before the New Hampshire presidential primary in January.

Steve Beverly is director of broadcasting at Union University. E-mail [email protected] Also see his column at ledger-enquirer.com wrestling.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

EDITORIAL

VOTER SMACKDOWN WRESTLERS AND HIP-HOP TEAM UP FOR DEMOCRACY

26 September 2003

One of the disappointing things about American political culture is the indifference it breeds. The lack of seriousness by people elected to office is maddening. No wonder the majority of voting- age citizens, particularly those between 18 and 30, choose to sit out one election after another.

That’s why an unusual alliance between World Wrestling Entertainment and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network to register 2 million young voters by next year’s presidential election should be applauded.

There’s a temptation to sneer at the WWE’s Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker or even the rapper Eminem for pushing young people to vote. The presumption among elites is that only establishment figures in politics and media can talk about voter registration. But three out of 10 young people don’t even bother to vote because they assume special interests have a hammerlock on the system.

So if the Rock exhorts young people to "smackdown your vote," he’s demonstrating more concern for democracy than are the boys in the local political machine. And if rappers are marginally successful in registering new voters and getting them to the polls, it will definitely have an impact on elections.

But registering new voters is not enough. Educating them about the issues and motivating them to cast their ballot is the rest of the battle. Until newly registered voters step into the voting booth, expanding the ranks of those eligible to choose on Election Day means nothing.

Ironically, when Madonna and rocker Lenny Kravitz lent their names to a similar effort sponsored by MTV a decade ago, neither was registered to vote or had participated in the democratic process in years. One can only hope that such celebrity endorsements will now come with a modicum of follow-through.

The alliance between the WWE and hip-hop may have limited success, like the Rock the Vote campaign of the early 1990s, but it’s better than leaving the 20-somethings disengaged. After all, no one has a bigger stake in democracy than young people.

Scotland on Sunday

International

Sun 28 Sep 2003

Rap stars and wrestlers unite to make polling booths hip hop

JACQUI GODDARD IN MIAMI

IT MAY seem an unlikely political partnership, but some of the biggest names in hip-hop have teamed up with the flamboyant world of wrestling in an attempt to persuade American youth that it is worth voting in the 2004 White House election.

The ‘Two Million More in 2004’ drive aims to increase the turnout of teenagers and 20-somethings by an extra two million compared to the 2000 ballot, pumping out the message that their voice counts through a series of events backed by leading rap stars including Eminem, P Diddy and Wyclef Jean.

"Many people across the world pay attention to the words of Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Rev Run and others, much more than they do any politician," said Russell Simmons, the so-called Godfather of Hip-Hop and multi-millionaire founder of Def Jam Records.

"We have to get all those apathetic people to pay attention to the social and political landscape of this country."

The new alliance between Simmons’s Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and World Wrestling Entertainment – formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation – will register voters at hip-hop concerts and wrestling events around the country, hold rallies at colleges and high schools, and launch public service announcements and literature to promote voter registration and voting.

The 18-30 age group is a notoriously disengaged voting bloc – only around 30% took part in the 2000 presidential ballot. The winner was ultimately determined in Florida, where George W Bush was ruled to have beaten Democratic opponent Al Gore by a margin of just 537 votes.

"Young people may feel like voting is useless, and their vote doesn’t make a difference," said WWE wrestling star Maven Huffman.

"But in the last presidential election, Florida showed them how close an election can be. A lot of young people look up to us. I can take that excitement and enthusiasm and turn it to voting."

Over the past 20 years, reformed drug addict Simmons, 45, has turned hip-hop into a cultural phenomenon.

A powerful social and political activist, he has the ear of America’s street culture generation and has been courted by virtually every candidate for the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nomination.

The Manila Times

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Will wrestling fans ruin US democracy?

By Andrew Ferguson

— Bloomberg

MR. McMahon went to Washington last week-that would be Vince McMahon, he of the collarless shirts and granitic jaw and improbable hair, known from here to there as the world’s richest and loudest impresario of professional wrestling.

Unfortunately, he did not come to the nation’s capital to do what he does best. No refs were body-slammed, no rivals were dangled by their ankles. Instead he came to save American democracy.

"Vince McMahon is a great patriot," says one who should know, his spokesman Gary Davis. "He loves this country very much, because it has been so good to him. And now he wants to give something back."

And he is "giving back"-unavoidable phrase these days!-in a particular way. At a news conference at the National Press Club, McMahon appeared with another public-spirited impresario, the rap mogul Russell Simmons, to launch a drive to register two million young people to vote in the 2004 election.

"Two Million More in 2004," the effort is called, employing the mnemonic rhyming scheme that wrestling fans find helpful.

The specter of two million more children in turned-around baseball caps queuing up for the voting booth, as they nod drowsily to the thumps drilling through the earplugs of their portable MP3 players, raises the urgent question: Can democracy survive Vince McMahon’s attempt to save it?

Of course, it is not merely McMahon who hopes to rescue democracy in this way. Registering young people to vote has been a celebrity cause, off and on, at least since that fateful day in 1971 when Richard Nixon certified a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18.

Most recently, in July, the Dixie Chicks announced they too had joined with Rock the Vote-a "nonpartisan" creature of the recording industry that seeks to "empower young people to change their world"-in a campaign to register even more 18 to 24 year olds and hector them into going to the polls in 2004.

"Only 36 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 24 voted in the last presidential election," the Chicks noted in a press release.

Apparently they and their partners at Rock the Vote find this statistic alarming. But why?

Respectable people aren’t supposed to say this, of course, but there are many reasons to discourage Vince and the Chicks in their democratic enthusiasm. Republicans long ago noticed, for example, that the "nonpartisan" Rock the Vote is in fact sharply ideological-a mechanism for propagandizing befuddled young people in statist economics and multicultural orthodoxy.

The stronger objections have nothing to do with partisanship, however. In one of those delightful coincidences that grumpy columnists rely on, on the same day McMahon was launching his "Two Million More" program, the National Conference of State Legislators released a national survey of those very same idealists Vince and the Chicks hope to empower.

Young Americans, the survey found, "don’t understand the ideals of citizenship; are disengaged from the political process; lack the knowledge necessary for effective self-government; and have limited appreciation of American democracy."

The survey might make you think twice about placing the fate of that same democracy in the hands of people with such a limited appreciation for it.

Fewer than half of those younger than 26, for example, believe you should "follow government news in order to be a good citizen." Eighty percent of them know that Ruben Stoddard is the American Idol, while one in ten could identify the Speaker of the House from a list of five names. Fewer than half knew the party of their state’s governor. The results won’t surprise anyone who’s ever scanned the audience at one of McMahon’s wrestling shows.

Wouldn’t it be much fairer to them, and better for self-government, to leave such people to their MP3 players, in deference to a principle almost as old, and just as solid, as universal suffrage? The principle goes like this: If somebody doesn’t vote, he probably shouldn’t.

The Dixie Chicks, McMahon, and other celebrities will be horrified to discover that their zeal for spreading the ballot to people who have no business voting is not, amazingly, shared by everyone. It is not even universally shared by young people themselves, at least outside the US.

Earlier this month, a city council in Lancashire UK was seized by a fever similar to the one gripping Vince and the Dixie Chicks. It proposed lowering the local voting age even further, from 18 to 16-an idea often endorsed by Rock the Vote enthusiasts. Students from several local schools gathered to debate the proposal.

They voted overwhelmingly against it.

"They felt that the age should not be reduced until they can learn more about the democratic process," said a spokesman for the students, several of whom said they thought the voting age should even be raised.

Some of these kids aren’t as dumb as they look.