Politics & Policy

Rock the Democratic Vote

#TURNOUTFORWHAT only wants you to turn out if you vote blue.

Rock the Vote is a non-partisan organization that strives to get younger people to vote, but you wouldn’t know about the non-partisan part from the group’s latest PSA.


Using Lil Jon’s hit club anthem, “Turn Down For What,” which is apparently the only modern song the Democratic establishment knows, and Lena Dunham, whose name you may be really tired of seeing at National Review Online, Rock the Vote intends to inspire the younger generation to get out to the poles on November 4th. Apparently all it takes to get us twenty-somethings to vote is a catchy song and Dunham dancing in a onesie.

The video starts out with Lil Jon stopping by his local polling site, where Nerdy White Guy hands him his ballot, after spitting out such Nerdy White Phrases as “da club” and “pretty pretty crunk.” After bumping into Dunham and declaring in an act of shameless HBO promotion how he cannot wait to watch the next season of Girls, (somehow I think Lil Jon had never heard of the hit show before filming this video), the rapper is shown standing behind a presidential podium as the music starts. Nerdy White Guy smiles at the camera, his teeth decked out in gold grillz. (Because he thinks he’s black! Get it?)   

The song plays as usual with the famous phrase “turn down for what” being replaced with “turn out for what,” peppered with the phrase “rock the vote” and mostly unknown celebrities declaring why they are voting. 

It turns out that the celebrities are all voting to support liberal causes. If Rock the Votes’ plan was to encourage the youth to vote, despite their party affiliation, this parody video fails miserably. Magic Johnson’s gay son EJ Johnson declares he is “turning out for marriage equality.” Dunham, who refers to herself as Lil Lena (you know she’s cool because she’s making fun of her whiteness!) says she is “turning out for reproductive rights.” Of course she is. BuzzFeed reports that the 28-year-old millionaire will be promoting Democratic candidates endorsed by Emily’s List on the tour for her new book. Emily’s List actively works to support pro-abortion female Democratic candidates.   

Ireland Baldwin is turning out for global-warming awareness. Devendra Banhart is turning out for deforestation. Someone named Gabriel is turning out for racial equality. Lil John is turning out for the legalization of marijuana, a stance that puts Lil Jon in agreement with the late National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. At one point, items flash across the screen that are meant to symbolize other issues not mentioned. A ball and chain with the words “student loans” appears as well as a globe with an ice pack, meant to symbolize humanitarian aid. Then a gun with a padlock attached to the trigger is given airtime, sending a clear message to those who believe in the 2nd Amendment: Rock the Vote says your opinion is wrong.

Rock the Vote has received complaints about promoting the Democratic agenda in the past. In 2004, the non-profit sent a fake draft notice in the form of an email to over 600,000 email addresses that read, “You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States and to report to a polling place near you.”  A copy of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s signature was attached to the email. After Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the RNC accused Rock the Vote of furthering the urban legend that a draft would be reinstated in order to “scare America’s youth,” the organization defended its email, saying that a draft was still possible.

The video directs you to TurnOutForWhat.com, which redirects to RockTheVote.com, which does not espouse any particular political opinions. However, the accompanying hashtag to the parody video, #TURNOUTFORWHAT is another story. 

Indeed, the hashtag seems to have only garnered attention from liberals, possibly because they are the ones who take directions from celebrities. 

Fred Armisen, a Saturday Night Live alumnus, also appears in the video. He mostly dances around a ladder and makes funny faces at the camera. The Portlandia star makes the most poignant statement of the whole three and a half minutes. “I’m turning out because I want to impress my friends,” he says, “That’s the only reason to ever do anything.”

Unfortunately, anyone who turns out to vote solely because of a celebrity-laden parody video may have had this motivation all along. 

— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.


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