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Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 2000 / 21 Tishrei 5761

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

Generation Duh -- THIS WEEK it was reported in the New York Post that a recent study taken of 400 young Americans between the ages of 16 to 21 revealed that 75 percent of them do not know who the vice presidential candidates are. Not only that, but 33 percent of them donít know who is running for President. Thatís right. If you think thatís scary wait until you hear the rest of the survey results. Here are a few that they wouldnít tell you about:

  • 19 percent think George Washington is the father of the dollar bill.

  • 44 percent believe that there is a revolving restaurant at the top of the Washington memorial.

  • 63 percent identified Barney Frank as a six-hundred pound purple dinosaur who has a show on PBS.

  • 58 percent believe Camp David is the summer house belonging to David Letterman.

  • 87 percent couldnít name who is buried in Grantís tomb -- even when presented as a multiple choice question.

  • 45 percent think the Gaza Strip is a major thoroughfare in Las Vegas.

  • 31 percent think the Gaza Strip is a new Britney Spears dance.

  • 62 percent believe Janet Reno is more of an alpha male than Clinton and Gore combined.

  • 94 percent couldnít walk and chew gum at the same time.

  • 73 percent couldnít walk and talk at the same time.

  • 66 percent couldnít walk and think at the same time.

  • 27 percent couldnít walk and breathe at the same time.

This list, of course, is only a joke, but the survey statistics sited in my first paragraph were absolutely true. Generally speaking, young people really do not seem to have any interest in who is running for the highest office in the land, let alone specific issues.

Why is this? Are they jaded? Cynical? Disenfranchised? Bored? Stupid? Jerky? Self-absorbed? Shallow? Or all of the above?

How do you get young people interested in political elections? Should we offer free on-line Internet service to the first 250,000 voters? Give-away premiums like baseball caps and cell-phones? ďVote now, and for the first 1000 voters that get to the poles, we will include, at no extra charge, the famous Ginzu knife. And if you act now, we will also include the ricer and the juicer and, as a special bonus, the four-in-one grater, slicer, dicer, and pocket fisherman.Ē

Maybe if the candidates had hit movies out in the theaters, or if more fashion model types ran for political office -- do you think that might encourage some kids to get off their hassock and into the polling booth? Suppose candidates were stars of high rated sit coms? Or sports stars? That might do it. Sure -- vote for Shaq for State Senator.

Thereís no question that the greatest influence on the young is music. Recording artists could undoubtedly lure their fans to vote. I canít help but wonder how many hundreds of thousands of young people would be voting if a Christina Aguilera or a Mariah Carey ran for public office -- any public office. Eminem for President? Well, letís hope not. Heíd probably get plenty of votes, though.

On reflection, maybe we shouldnít try to get young people to vote. The more I think of it, the more Iím happy to just leave well enough alone. Young people stay away from the voting booths in droves -- and considering their tastes in popular culture, thatís probably a very good thing.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby