Aguilera and Son Look to Rock the Vote
By Krissah Williams
Eighteen years after Madonna wrapped herself in a U.S. flag and struck a risquÃ© pose in the name of an upstart group called Rock the Vote, a blond pop star of the so-called Generation Next is urging young people to cast their ballots.
In a public service announcement that will begin airing in two weeks, Christina Aguilera, 27, rocks her infant son, Max Liron Bratman, in a flag, while crooning "America the Beautiful." As the ad closes, Aguilera looks up at the camera and says "It's time to make history. It's time to rock the vote."
Aguilera told the Los Angeles Times this week that she didn't think twice about putting her son in the limelight because it's "inevitable that he will be subjected to some amount of press. ... This election in particular is such an exciting and historical one, and so I was proud to have my son and I stand together for such a powerful moment and message in time."
Heather Smith, executive director of Rock the Vote, said the nonpartisan group is launching the ad to ride the wave of civic engagement among young voters. Already 850,000 voter registration applications have been downloaded from the group's website.
All indications are that voter participation among the under-30 crowd will approach historic highs in November. Nearly as many young voters showed up for the Iowa caucuses this year (held in the middle of winter on a frigid weekday night) as did those over 65, who are usually more reliable caucus attendees. In the hotly contested primaries in Texas and Ohio, nearly 1.1 million voters under 30 cast ballots, according to tabulations by CIRCLE, a University of Maryland research center on civic engagement and youth. (That's triple the number of young voters in who cast ballots in Texas in 2000 and a 10 percent increase in young voter turnout in Ohio.)
Rock the Vote, which has tried since its inception to use pop culture to prod young people to vote, now has about 30,000 members on its Facebook fan page. It will deploy five young reporters next month to begin telling the story of the presidential campaign from the perspective of young people, and plans to send text messages to all of the voters who register on their site to remind them to vote in November.
"We've found there is really incredible civic engagement among young people right now, and they are feeling like as a voting group they can make change," Smith said. "They can make history."
Web Politics Editor
May 30, 2008; 12:33 PM ET
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