Music For America: Fusion of Youth Culture and Politics Ignites a Movement
NEW YORK, NY - America's young citizens have the power to change politics this year and they know it. Young people, a demographic long overlooked by politicians for anything other than token photo opportunities, are taking steps to ensure that their voice is heard and taken seriously in the 2004 elections.
Across the country, the young, hip, and young-at-heart are organizing with one another through Music for America--using a relatively new Internet technology called blogging (think newspaper columns meets talk radio to create online dialogue), concerts, and indie culture.
Music for America is a peer-to-peer, decentralized, youth mobilization effort that is using the music community as a gateway for rousing, enlightening, and empowering American youth to join in the political process. Their message for 2004 is clear, "Youth of America, Bush is screwing us and voting is the least we can do."
MfA recognizes that live music clubs and online forums are modern day living rooms; they are the spaces where young people are spending more and more time socializing and where they are most likely to participate in political dialogue. "We are using the tools that exist within our own cultural spheres to connect with people who want a change in leadership and who are prepared to organize to bring about that change," says MfA Executive Director Molly Moon Lewis.
Music for America concerts and cultural events are cropping up in cities across America. While each event has its own unique flavor--reflective of its community and the tastes of its organizers--all share the common elements of music, voter registration, voter education, and opportunities for political dialogue and participation.
One of MfA's key objectives for these events, which also extends to its online forums and website, is to find ways to show young people how politics directly affect their everyday lives.
Two such examples are the RAVE Act, which make concerts and clubs less safe, and tax cuts which are driving up tuition costs and cutting the amount of financial aid students receive for higher education. "We are pointing out the issues with immediate consequences for our generation. We find that these types of issues serve as jumping-off points for a larger conversation about political participation," says Mike Connery, MfA co-founder.
Artists performing at MfA shows serve as the bridge between music and these issues. "Playing clubs and venues across America, we have a natural platform from which we communicate with fans. I think bands and their audiences are inspiring each other to mobilize and use their resources to make change happen this year," says Quincy Jones III, an MfA artist and board member.
Issues that audiences might hear mentioned from the stage can be expanded on by informed MfA staff who are stationed at information tables at all MfA shows. In addition to sharing their knowledge, these activists register voters, hand out informational issue cards that outline Bush's disregard for specific youth issues, and sign up individuals for MfA's email list.
During the weekend of February 28, Music for America will sponsor a series of larger events in six key cities just days before the Super Tuesday primaries. Each city's locally based coalition of volunteers will work the shows--talking with and educating their peers, registering voters, and expanding MfA's ranks.
Music for America was started by a group of young, disenfranchised voters who became active in politics through the MeetUp phenomenon. After the 2000 election and the Bush Administration's marginalization of the millions who protested the Iraq war, this group of twentysomethings collectively decided that more than protest must take place to affect change; youth needs a true voice in the political process.
"We had to look at what comes after protest. The failure of fifteen million protestors to stop the unilateral invasion of Iraq makes this clear. Our ability to harness the organizing power of the Internet and educate voters through music will make social progress a reality," says Franz Hartl, MfA co-founder.
Youth are the largest group of untapped voters in the country, says the Center for Information and Research on Civic Leadership and Engagement (CIRCLE) study. In 2000, 83.5% of undergrad students reported that they were not contacted by any political party during the elections. That same year, only 42.4% of eligible youth voters cast their votes. An overwhelming number of politicians ignore the youth vote, believing that the low poll turnout of this demographic poses little threat to their campaigns.
"Politicians are going to have to step up and make us a part of their plans for this November, because they are now a part of ours. The smile, nod, and handshake is just not going to cut it," says Dan Droller, MfA co-founder.
Visit www.musicforamerica.org to download "Do It Yourself" event organizing kits, receive voter information, and view the MFA event calendar.
Music for America Presents
Party 'n Politics:
Not Your Average Party Politics
MfA's Super Tuesday Concert Series Schedule of Events
2.26.04 | Soulive with Reggie Watts | Bowery Ballroom | New York, NY
2.26.04 | The Stills | Troubadour | Los Angeles, CA
2.26.04 | Hip-hop show | The Echo | Atlanta, GA
2.27.04 | Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, Mr. Lif, Saul Williams | Henry Fonda Theater | LA, CA
2.27.04 | GZA Wu-Tang Clan and Jedi Mind Tricks | North Six | Brooklyn, NY
2.27.04 | Tim Kinsella w/ Love of Everything and Make Believe | Grog Shop | Cleveland, OH
2.27.04 | Dillinger | First Avenue | Minneapolis, MN
2.28.04 | KRS-1 | Sweets Ballroom | Oakland, CA
2.28.04 | Medeski, Martin & Wood w/ Marc Ribot | Bowery Ballroom | New York, NY
2.28.04 | Joan of Arc w/ Love of Everything and Make Believe | Bug Jar | Rochester, NY
2.28.04 | Mike Patton (Fantomas, Tomahawk) and Rahzel (Roots) | The Echo Atlanta, GA
2.28.04 | Punk show | First Avenue | Minneapolis, MN
2.29.04 | De La Soul | Middle East | Boston, MA
Plus 30-50 "Do It Yourself" shows with smaller, local bands performing in their hometowns. Visit www.musicforamerica.org for event updates.
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