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« Social Security Pop Quiz. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 6 -- What Ended The Great Depression. »

Rock The Vote's Town Hall Meetings Continue To Underwhelm.

In the past, we've commented on ("non-profit, non-partisan") Rock the Vote's blatantly liberal agenda (here, here, and here).

We've also noted how lame Rock the Vote's Town Hall meetings, also known as "Cynical Misinformationals," have been.

Basically, to recap, Jehmu Green, Hans Riemer, and the rest of the Rock the Vote gang, has been going around the country trying to undermine the sky-high support among young people for Social Security reform.

They're failing. Miserably.

It's embarrassing just to watch such humiliation.

The Kansas City Star reports on another bit of recent schadenfreude at one of Rock the Vote's attempted 1930s-dogma revivals:

...the under-30 crowd did not represent a majority.

At the large-scale meeting in Kansas City a week earlier, young people represented an even smaller share of the crowd. Payne stood out in a crowd of several hundred, most whose faces long had given way to wrinkles and whose heads already became home to white and gray.

Payne, a senior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, admitted it was disappointing that more young people didn't show.

Is it possible that young people didn't show because, oh, maybe, those actually under 30 (unlike Hans Riemer, of Rock the Vote) "favor giving individuals the choice to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in stocks or mutual funds" to the tune of 76-16 (link is a .pdf).

The Kansas City Star article continues:

Colleen Taylor, a Columbia University junior who went on the campaign trail as a political correspondent for CosmoGirl! magazine, said she's heard tremendous discussion from young people on both sides of the Social Security debate.

"The majority of people I know and I talk to aren't that scared of privatizing Social Security just because they trust their own ability to save, but a lot of people think we have an obligation to help the people who may not be responsible enough to save their own money," she said. "I'm surprised by the number of people I know who are very liberal but are not afraid of the idea of Social Security reform."

This is a pretty common attribute among young people. Young people are generally more libertarian on all issues, especially on social issues, for example, but they also favor free markets as part of that desire for freedom.

And that's what reform is really about: FREEDOM, INDIVIDUAL CONTROL, AN OWNERSHIP SOCIETY.

It's personal control and the free enterprise system versus inefficient bureaucratic control of trans-generational wealth redistribution (otherwise known as socialism). It's about choice and harnessing the power of the markets, versus compulsory wage garnishing and neglible (or negative) returns down the road.

Rock the Vote, ostensibly a group for young people, has had a tough time finding actual young people to get involved (it's no wonder, when Social Security reform is so popular with young people), so they've resorted to recruiting AARP-eligible people to oppose Social Security reform:

Click image for more on the protest.

Lisa De Pasquale, of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, explains that Rock the Vote's problems stem from its placement of style over substance:

Financial freedom is hot; trucker hats with stupid slogans are not. A majority under-30 folks believe personal retirement accounts are a good idea and trust themselves more than the government to manage their retirement funds.

Rock the Vote is out of touch with the real views of young people. Rather than support what's best for its self-proclaimed constituency, it misinforms about Social Security reform....

If Rock the Vote truly wants to be cutting-edge, it needs to lose the liberal talking points and stand up for what most young Americans want -- financial independence in choosing retirement plans.

Indeed, on the Rock the Vote blog, Hans Riemer (who is closer to age 40 than age 21) asserts that "All the cool kids oppose privatization," as if that is supposed to make younger Americans turn against the idea of having more economic liberty. Riemer cites a Pew Center survey in which people who claim to have heard a lot about Social Security reform oppose it more than those who had not heard much about it.

We've commented on this in the very recent past, suggesting a list of questions about Social Security reform. Paris Hilton or Britney Spears could claim to be experts on politics, but unless they could answer a few simple political questions correctly, why would we take their word for it? How does that make any sense?

Despite the cherry-picked numbers Rock the Vote uses to prove that young people do not want Social Security reform, among those 18-29, support for reform in objective polls is consistently above 65%, sometimes even reaching above 75%.

The leadership of Rock the Vote shares much in common with labor union leadership on Social Security. Although young people and union members would benefit from President Bush's reform principles, and although young people and union members support Social Security choice, the leadership of each of these organizations is:

1) woefully out of touch with those whom they claim to represent;

2) part and parcel of the "radical status-quo" left;

3) believe personal accounts might undermine their long-term prospects for keeping their members dependent on them.

These organizations' leaders have one common partisan agenda of note behind their opposition to Social Security reform:

They want to make President Bush a lame duck and believe his "defeat" on the Social Security issue will make him one.

AFSCME President Gerald McEntee said as much:

“Social Security is a signature issue for George Bush and a signature issue for American workers and the labor movement. The day after it is voted down or withdrawn is the day Bush becomes a lame duck.”

On the Rock the Vote blog, Hans Riemer explained what defeating Social Security reform means to him:

It is a recipe for a political backlash. Long assumed as the only demographic that would support private accounts, when young people turn on them, its ovah....

The political backlash is forthcoming.

It's all a big political game with these people. It's sick to play politics with this kind of issue, considering the enormous negative consequences of no reform, but they do it anyway.


Because they have no solutions, only dogmatic adherence to 1930s ideology. They have no vision for the future, only a strategy for tearing down the reformers.

This strategy just might produce a political backlash, but not the kind that Hans Riemer hopes for. As we explained before, Bush has a huge polling advantage on "who is willing to work with both political parties to find a solution." Furthermore, a recent Democracy Corps (the organization founded by Democrats James Carville, Stan Greenberg, and Bob Shrum) poll found (in .pdf format):

50% of Americans believe that Democrats are opposing President Bush's plans to strengthen Social Security just to block his agenda, while only 42% believe that they are opposing President Bush's plan because they have a better way to strengthen Social Security.

Ultimately, it's a losing proposition in the long term (as well as the short term) to obstruct necessary reform on Social Security, a crucial program that so many people, especially young people, understand is broken and in need of reform. Just saying no to reform is not even a strategy, it's nihilism.

Meanwhile, the Rock the Vote roadshow of town hall forums ambles ever on... minus the actual young people.


Posted by Will Franklin · 3 April 2005 08:09 PM


You should turn the Rock The Vote = Unbelievably Lame image into a bumper sticker or T-Shirt!

Posted by: InkyAtari at April 4, 2005 10:36 AM

I just might do that, in fact.

Posted by: Will Franklin at April 4, 2005 10:38 AM