Knowles: Vote with me

The midterm elections next Tuesday will prove catastrophic for Democrats, and they can blame no one but themselves. Arrogance, obstinacy and a blind stupidity have alienated this Congress’s former supporters and left them without a leg or constituency to stand on. Disengaged from reality, Democrat incumbents have resorted to name-calling and outright lies to preserve their seats and defend failed policies that have weakened our economy.

I speak so bluntly because I have experienced my own representative, Democrat John Hall (NY-19), employ these same desperate tactics against his Republican opponent, her supporters in the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party — and me. His desperate and petty campaign is a clear example of the Democrat campaign leadership’s ruthlessness across the country. Some background: Rep. Hall is the former lead-singer of the ’70s soft-rock band Orleans and was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006 as an anti-war progressive during the Democrat wave.

Over the summer, a few friends and I founded the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour: the idea was to get John Hall back onstage and out of Congress. When Hall was the lead singer of Orleans, unemployment was about 5.3 percent and the national debt hovered around $7.9 trillion. By 2010, while Hall was serving his second term in Congress, unemployment had jumped to 9.6 percent and the national debt began to approach the United States’ entire gross domestic product. Over the past four years, Hall has voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat majority almost 98 percent of the time.

My friends and I made a website (, an online store and a few YouTube videos. The most recent one is a music video parodying Orleans’ hit song, “Dance With Me.” I sing lead vocals, asking constituents to “vote with me” to “make John Hall leave Washington, D.C.” The silly satire eventually garnered national media attention — that’s when the trouble began. Lawyers from John Hall’s team sent me a threatening letter. And then another. They were — and to the best of my knowledge still are — planning to sue me in court. I even received personal threats from Larry Hoppen, the band’s frontman: “Denigrate Orleans at your peril,” he warned.

And so I experienced an example of the frivolous yet insidious Democrat tactics so common to this election cycle. For example, the single most vocal facet of what George Soros has described as the year’s “Republican avalanche” has been the TEA Party. The mere mention of the party’s name sends shivers down the spine of any book-learned, self-respecting Yalie. And yet, what image have Democratic incumbents constructed of the TEA Party? Terms like “extreme” and “radical” crop up — but then, John Hall’s campaign manager used those exact words on district-wide television to describe a parody song written by a few kids. “Stupid” and “ignorant” are regular insults as well.

Essentially, the Democrat campaign leadership paints a picture of the TEA Party as a loosely connected group of hillbillies that stand around with misspelled rally signs. Yet a New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this year found that self-described TEA Party supporters are, on average, wealthier and more educated than the general public.

A perfect example of Democrat lies. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has advanced one fabrication above all others: that Republicans want to privatize social security. They’ve slung this allegation at candidates around the country, almost entirely without foundation — they’ve even alleged that my group’s satirical music video advocates it. Neither the word “privatize,” nor “social,” nor “security,” appears in the song.

What the Democrats cannot acknowledge in their fantasy world are the facts of their disastrous record. Over 50 percent of Americans opposed the new health law when Speaker Pelosi insisted that they needed to “pass the bill so that” they “find out what is in it.” Seven months later, small businesses are poised to cut jobs and slash wages, health care premiums have increased by as much as 9 percent in some states, and — surprise! — the majority of Americans continue to disapprove of the law. After $800 billion of so-called stimulus spending and four months of “Recovery Summer,” unemployment has failed to drop below 9.5 percent. And three years after Speaker Pelosi vowed that there would be “no new deficit spending,” the national debt has increased by $5 trillion.

The excesses of these past four years have spiraled out of control. Our Democrat leaders in Congress have alienated every constituency group, from the business community that creates jobs to the young voters who will inherit their mess. My congressman certainly alienated me when he threatened to sue me, twice, over a lighthearted and constitutionally protected parody video.

The Democrats have given us unprecedented, unnecessary, unsustainable debt and no jobs to help us pay it down. But our leaders can only ignore the will of the American people for so long. Next Tuesday, Congress will wake up from its four-year fantasy, and it will be morning in America.

Michael Knowles is a junior in Davenport College and the Special Projects Coordinator at Friends of Nan Hayworth.


  • River Tam

    But… but… I thought the Tea Partiers were racist, homophobic morons being led by the unholy trinity of Rush, Beck, and the Ghost of William F Buckley!

  • Hitch2

    Michael, Michael, this is all wrong. The reason voters oppose Obama is because, well, he’s just… too wonderful

  • RexMottram08

    The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in twelve Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in ten think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic party is falling apart.

    Democrats are 4 points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates.

  • Branfordalum

    Michael: You have the right to free speech under the Constitution, but you do not have the right to infringe a copyright, which you did with your parody song. John Hall has a perfect right to threaten legal action. You would do the same, if someone did that to you. As for your political argument, although you are young, I would expect you to have a better sense of history than you show in this editorial. Our current economic morass is not the result of the policies enacted by Congress over the past two years. They are the consequence of eight years of fiscal recklessness during the Bush years. You don’t cut taxes while you’re fighting two wars. You don’t enact a huge Medicare drug benefit without paying for it. You don’t appoint regulators who don’t regulate because they think businesses should so whatever they want. Income inequality has been growing exponentially in this country since the “Reagan Revolution” and people have been living off credit for years and years. The bubble finally burst and it’s going to take a long time for us to get out of the hole we’re in. All Obama and the Democrats have been trying to do is “prime the pump” by putting demand into the economy while business and the banks sit on the sidelines. I don’t agree with everything they’ve done, but unlike the Republicans, they have worked to find solutions to the problems we have. John Hall has been an outstanding Congressman and the people of NY-19 have been very fortunate to have him. I have contributed to his campaign and plan to lend a hand getting out the vote for him over the next few days, even though I don’t live in the district.

  • Standards

    Actually, as far as copyrights go, if Michael isn’t selling the song it is protected as a parody. It might be a bit murky with the merch store on his website, where the song could be seen as an advertisement, though.

    It’s not as clear cut as either Branfordalum or Knowles are making this issue, but I can see a case for both sides.

  • harmonsiegel

    @Branfordalum: commercial parody is protected speech. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569.

  • pablum

    The editors of the YDN must have missed the fact that ‘Democrat’ is a noun, not an adjective.

    I know that Mr. Knowles is young, but he’s surely not too young to remember that a lot of the problems he rattles off were present before Mr. Obama was elected. I guess it’s OK to play with the truth when you want to win an election, though.