(NNPA) In less than 10 months from now the final countdown to the next national elections in the United States will be begin. The future of America and to a large extent the future of the world will be at stake. During the next year there will be millions of new young voting age persons that will have to be registered to vote and mobilized to go out to the voting polls across the nation.
It is a well-documented fact that it was the number of voters that turned out for the national elections in November 2008 between the ages of 18 and 30 that provided the margin of victory for President Obama in the key swing states of North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. Overall voter turnout for the 2008 election was the highest in the last 40 years and President Obama received the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history. It was the “Hip-Hop Vote” that made the critical difference in the outcome of the 2008 elections.
In 2012 there be the potential for a greater number of youth voters to be registered and to vote in the next national elections. But, this youth voting potential cannot and should not be taken for granted between now and 2012. There is no question that the use of Internet technology and social media were effectively utilized in an unprecedented manner in the 2008 elections by the Obama Campaign.
But, the winds of regression and negative campaigning against further inclusive political empowerment in the United States are blowing stronger today than ever before and these right-wing forces are now also using Internet technologies and more social media to mobilize what appears to be their growing constituencies nearly in every state. Thus, the difference in 2012 will not be determined just by the technology use factor. It will be determined by an effective, protracted grassroots campaign to register and mobilize millions of youth voters who love hip-hop music and culture. Thus it will be the “Hip-Hop Vote” in 2012 that will help to shape the future of the world.
Timing is important here. We should not wait until it is too late to get all of this work done. It is going to cost money, time, and energy. I am always amazed to witness so-called progressive and liberal political forces to waste valuable time when it comes to galvanizing and re-activating the potential progressive political base in America. There is no effective substitute for grassroots organizing precinct by precinct in every Congressional District, city by city and state by state. The truth is that in 2008 there was a last minute scramble to get out the youth vote in many key states. That mistake should not be repeated. The time to make the difference is now for the mobilization of the youth vote.
In the hip-hop community, we all know that you make progress whether you are in a studio, a corporate suite or in a street organization by how well and consistent that you “grind” or work tirelessly until you have perfected your gift and talent to share with the world. We must start grinding to get the Hip-HopVote now and keep grinding until we set another historic record of the highest youth voter turnout in American history in November 2012.
The states with the largest number of electoral votes: New York, California, and Texas are showing a significant increase in the number of persons that have become 18 years of age since November 2008. A national campaign needs to be properly organized, funded and systematically launched in all the states, especially in those states where there are clear margins where the youth vote is determinative.
2012 will present the most decisive election in American history in terms of whether or not the United States will move forward in the 21st Century as a pluralistic, inclusive democracy or begin to move backward to the old divisive, racial, and elitist politics of the past. Hip-Hop transcends race, class, and other social divisions. Hip-Hop is the cultural phenomena that represents the transformative character of youth consciousness and responsible social action. Let’s work to ensure that both the opportunity and the challenge of the youth vote is taken seriously for the remainder of 2011, as we prepare for the battle of 2012.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is the Senior Advisor for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and the President of Education Online Services Corporation.