Rock the Vote slams draft at rally
With an audience wielding anti-Bush administration signs demanding "regime change," MTV's Rock the Vote took to the lawn of Dartmouth Hall Friday afternoon, urging young people to register and vote. Although conceived as a non-partisan event, the rally was overwhelmingly pro-Kerry and occurred simultaneously with a College Republicans protest against MTV in Los Angeles.
Launched in June, Rock the Vote's campaign to register new voters and especially to encourage young voters to make their voices heard on Nov. 2 prompted the visit to Hanover.
Jehmu Greene, president of Rock the Vote, took the stage with a prepared speech but chose instead to talk about College Republicans protests that had just begun at MTV Headquarters in Los Angeles. According to www.collegegop.org, Rock the Vote has been using scare tactics suggesting President Bush will reinstate the draft should he be reelected.
The website cited a fake draft induction card Rock the Vote had posted that included a forged signature of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The card, Greene said, is used to enter friends' names and e-mail to "draft" them to vote at nearby polling locations. Since beginning efforts this year, Rock the Vote has registered over 1.5 million people, breaking every national voting registration record.
"MTV is an organization founded on freedom of expression," Greene said.
MTV, she said, called on Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. John Kerry to talk about the draft, but only Kerry has done so.
Greene said that the College Republicans wanted Rock the Vote to stop bringing up the draft issue, despite the fact that this election has made the war in Iraq one of its key issues.
"This election is going to come down to a few simple issues and young people are poised to make a difference," Greene said. "This is the perfect storm of a generation being able to put its mark on an election."
U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., urged young voters to get out on Election Day and send George Bush back to Texas. Sanders stressed politics' relevance to college students, advocating increased financial aid for students and a national health care program rather than tax breaks for the wealthy minority. Sanders referred to Bush's lackluster environmental record and his pro-life stance on women's abortion rights as he encouraged young voters to elect a government that truly "represents all of the people."
"When the voter turnout goes up, we win," he said.
Also making an appearance was Kerry energy adviser Dan Reicher '78, who cited his own experiences as an activist to show that people can make a difference -- locally, regionally or internationally. He encouraged the audience to vote, arguing that who occupies the White House is of utmost importance.
"The next week and a half is the single most important moment for action in your young political lives," he said.