Emily Michaud does not resemble the sexy blonde icon of the Votergasm Web site. Emily’s ab muscles are not as hard as Dick Cheney’s line on terror; her lips are not as red as Howard Dean’s “scream” face. Yet as soon as Emily enters the Cambridge Political Orgy on Nov. 2, every guest’s head swings.
Emily is wearing a floaty, white dress. The floaty, white dress is transparent. Emily is not wearing a bra.
Everyone in the room has the same idea at the same moment. Emily does not have the Web site blonde’s curvy frame and come-hither face, but she seems to promise the same result: a Votergasm. If a guest is really lucky, maybe Emily will choose him as her partner to fulfill step five of the Seven Steps to Votergasm — “Find a Pledge to Go Home With.” Followed, of course, by having “Crazy Election-Night Sex.”
If so, then Emily is far more than a 21-year-old girl in a transparent dress. She is the savior of the Cambridge Votergasm party.
After all, the guests are here to have sex. The site promised them that much. So did the blonde.
I blame the blonde for tempting me to the Votergasm party. As soon as I encountered her in cyberspace, she introduced me to the concept of sex for votes. She wasted no time. Standing at her home address, www.votergasm.com, before an American flag, she crossed her nearly bare breasts with one hand. White font marched toward her cleavage.
“This November 2, I Pledge … To Vote. To Have Sex. To Experience … A Votergasm.”
I am a straight 19-year-old female. It took me a moment to regain my ability to click the computer mouse.
Wondering what a Votergasm connoted, I plunged further into the site.
Step One to Votergasm: Vote.
Founded by nine Barnard, Harvard, Columbia and University of Wisconsin-Madison grads, the Votergasm site has one goal: to get young people to vote. The incentive — what will pull those apathetic teens and 20-somethings out of their own sloth to vote for a man they’ve probably never met — is sex. Vote, come to a Votergasm party and bed a similarly civic-minded and sex-starved youth.
But Votergasm itself got busy long before Nov. 2, seducing nearly every major media outlet. By October, Votergasm splashed every publication from Sports Illustrated to Maxim, from the Chicago Tribune to the New York Daily News. Rush Limbaugh lambasted Votergasm for three days straight on his show. The Times of India exclaimed “In India Booze Wins Votes, In the U.S. It’s Sex!” Neva Chonin of the San Francisco Chronicle called the site “American ingenuity at its best” and told her readers, “Pledge yourself. Michael Phelps would want you to. The cast of ‘QaF’ [Queer as Folk] would want you to. I would want you to. Dooo iiitt!!!”
By Nov. 2, Votergasm was hot. Soaked-in-sweat hot.
More than 35,000 Americans pledged, and 230 go-getters registered their Votergasm parties online. The most Votergasmic state, California, boasted 31 events.
The Votergasm idea spawned from some “disturbing statistics” from the 2000 election, explained Michelle Collins, Votergasm director and co-founder.
“A large number of people didn’t vote that day, and an even larger number didn’t have sex that night,” she told MTV. “Votergasm.org is here to say, ‘Never again.'”
Whether Americans had sex on Election Night 2000 seems up for debate, but Collins was correct about the low voter turnout. In 2000, only 51 percent of the voting-age population came to the polls, a 12-percent decrease since 1960.
The group hardest to mobilize? Young people. Since 1972 — the year the minimum voting age dropped to 18 — the turnout rate has dropped by one-third among 18-24 year-olds. In 2000, only 42 percent voted. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of citizens age 25 and over made it to the polls. With such paltry numbers, youths made up just 17 percent of the total voting pie.
With 28 million Americans between 18 and 25 years old in 2004, every politician and pundit is painfully aware of the priority to push young people to the polls. And they are painfully unaware of how to get us there. Most television spots and magazine ads revert to the same old method: having celebrities plead for politicians. Yet as earnest as Mariah Carey and P. Diddy might look, they probably cannot point to the White House on a map, never mind understand the implications of political platforms. Young Americans may be equally uninformed, but we still refuse to let the blind lead the blind.
Other efforts to get out the vote were slightly more creative. Voteornot.com offered a chance to win a $100,000 sweepstakes for each voter one registered. Rapthevote.com, calling itself “poetry slams meet politics,” joined with everyone from Russell Simmons to LL Cool J to register young voters. And Fthevote.com suggested using sexual tricks to “convert” Republicans into Kerry supporters.
But not all 20-somethings want to join sweepstakes, hear poetry slams or convert Republicans.
Sex, on the other hand, should appeal to everyone. Even in that demographic known for being even slipperier than the politicians who try to win it over.
Step Two: Find A Votergasm Party.
As a college student, I know: If sex can’t mobilize the youth vote, nothing can. Tearing myself from the Web site, I hope Votergasm will work. I believe Votergasm will work.
I envision Votergasm parties with blonde bombshells in lingerie and shirtless young men cavorting under American flags. I imagine red, white and blue disco balls and a techno version of the national anthem and a giant movie screen showing America slowly dipped in blue as the youth vote rolls in for John Kerry. I see my generation, the future of America, sharing political passion along with alcoholic drinks and body fluids, and the vision is beautiful.
Yet perhaps I would best appreciate that beauty from afar. I have yet to play Spin the Bottle, never mind have sex with a stranger. On Nov. 2, I do not want to participate in Votergasm.
Or do I?
I click through the site’s pages, the Votergasm hardbodies frolicking before me on the screen. And I realize: perhaps I need to sacrifice my personal desires and phobias for the good of the American people. Perhaps I need to attend a party. After all, Votergasm is a movement. Votergasm is a revolution. Votergasm is the future.
And Votergasm is one beautiful person after another.
With three weeks to go before the election, I scan the list of registered Votergasm parties on Votergasm.com. For all of Connecticut’s supposed liberalism, I’m disappointed in the turnout: only two events planned, and none at Yale. But Wesleyan is hosting a Votergasm party:
“Middletown Progressive Voter Hookup Party:
Wesleyan University Squash Courts. Hot Sweaty Progressives and Radicals. All night CONSENSUAL Dancing, Grinding, Kissing, Licking, Feeling, Bumping, Voting, Rubbing, Protesting, Revolving, Waking, Rising, Groping, Marching, F—ing, Revolting, Sucking, Loving and Fighting.”
I hesitate, take a deep breath, and call the number.
When I get in touch with Brian, the party planner, he has bad news.
“It’s a joke,” he says. He is throwing an election night party, but no sex will be involved. “Even the idea of a Votergasm party — it’s more joke than not,” he says. “I don’t really envision anybody taking the sex part seriously.”
Oh, right. Of course not, I scoff. I mean, I didn’t really think there would be sex at the parties.
But after hanging up the phone, I quickly realize that it doesn’t matter if Votergasm seems satirical. Many people are taking it seriously. Many party planners do want to throw the kind of party I’d imagined, free love and all.
I contact Brad Eastman, a host who describes his party online in slightly less extreme terms than Brian:
“Election Lingerie Party:
Wear your best lingerie and come to the best election party around. Invite as many people as you can and come be guaranteed someone to take home. (given enough people show up) Both trunks and asses are welcome.”
I ask Brad, a senior at West Virginia University, if anyone doubted the flyers and mass e-mails he sent out about his Votergasm party. His reply sounds shocked.
“It’s the real deal,” he says. “It’s not a joke.”
Eight hundred miles to the north of Brad, the host of the “Rochesterian Sexulitical Revival” also plans on going “over the top” — Republican vs. Democrat beer pong, porn playing on TV screens, free drinks to girls who flash the bartender.
“Rochesterian Sexulitical Revival:
It could be just what the Doc ordered to cure the Rochester, N.Y., youth scene of their sexual/political lethargy — If you’re horny and motivated, spread the word via all the appropriate channels!”
But the host, Kevin, stops short of saying all guests must pledge.
“It’s a noble idea,” he says. “But it’s almost impossible to implement unless you have a significant other.”
Perhaps. But at West Virginia, Brad (who, incidentally, plans on fulfilling his pledge with his girlfriend), says he will only allow pledges to attend. Most guests will be singles. More than 50 plan on coming, he tells me. To help them out, he’s convinced his school’s public health program to donate contraception — condoms he will put around the room in little bowls, like party favors.
The liberated Yale woman in me laughs out loud. Then, the liberated Yale woman in me decides to attend a party labeled “Political Orgy in Cambridge.”
“Political Orgy in Cambridge:
Enjoy food and drink of the sweetest nature. Endulge [sic] in the fruits of mass marketing punditry. Show off your political zeal, and take pleasure in the virility of non-partisan science. GET TO THRUST, BUT VOTE YOU MUST.”
The liberated Yale woman in me tosses a bottle of pepper spray into my purse.
Step Three: Pledge.
One part of the Votergasm site plays over and over in my head on the Amtrak to Boston.
“Pledge-fulfilling sex must be safe, consensual, legal, generous and hot.” Consensual and legal, I repeat to myself. Consensual and legal.
I want to attend a Votergasm party to observe youth culture and sexual liberation and the play between sex and politics. I want to watch my peers frolic with enthusiastic abandon as we put a liberal in the White House. I want to see the revolution happen. And while the world is rocking into new frontiers, I want to pen proof of a youth passion for politics, even if that passion needs to be prodded into action with, well, action.
I don’t want to go to a Votergasm party to get raped.
Some party-planners seemed concerned about consent issues. Brad, the student from West Virginia, even attached a half-page-long disclaimer to all the party’s promotional flyers, reiterating sex must be “consensual and legal.” His guests have to sign a form that says the same. But, he adds, the disclaimer also says that “everyone will have someone to go home with, pending that the ratio of guys to girls is pretty equal.”
The Cambridge party, the party I am attending, does not explicitly guarantee that everyone will have sex. Neither does it explicitly guarantee that nobody will have unwanted sex.
But it’s okay, I think to myself. After all, I’ve decided to participate in the revolution by attending the party — not by pledging to have sex. I’m just the reporter.
The Political Orgy’s host e-mails me with different ideas.
He won’t force me to have sex, he says. But to get the best angle for my article, to “psychologically relate” to the other guests, I should pledge.
“As the best narcotics officers would tell you, it’s imperative to do the drugs in order to connect with the dealers,” he adds.
I roll my eyes.
When I arrive at the party in Cambridge, next to my “I Voted Today!” sticker is my pledge badge. I am a “Citizen.” But my Citizen badge is the loophole in Votergasm: As a Citizen, I pledge only to withhold sex from non-voters for the week following the election. Although 35,000 people pledged on the Votergasm site, not all pledged to have sex with another voter on election night (the Patriot level) or to have sex on election night and withhold sex from non-voters for the next four years (the American Hero level). As it turns out, 30 percent of pledges are plain old Citizens. The rest, Patriots and American Heroes, are in for election night sex.
I’ll just watch.
I arrive at the party at 9 p.m., pepper spray in my purse and a friend at my side. (She insisted on coming with me for protection. But we quickly discovered that my “journalist” label actually protected her.)
I find Ian Wehrle, the host of the party, chain-smoking on the front stoop. When I asked him if he pledged, he laughs.
“Of course I did,” he says. He throws his cigarette butt into the street.
Ian is a stranger to me. He’s a stranger to all the other guests at the party. He’s even a stranger to the neighborhood: The party is in a vacant apartment he “borrowed” for the night.
I follow the stranger into the apartment. I have one hand on my pepper spray.
Step Four: Go to the Votergasm party.
Inside, flyers of the presidential candidates’ disembodied, eerily grinning heads dot the walls. Red, white and blue balloons float near the ceiling, their ribbons ending just at chin level. The doorway of a room to the right is criss-crossed with yellow tape blaring “Support Our Troops.” I peek inside. The room is bare — except for two mattresses on the floor, each encased in a geometrically patterned quilt. I point. “Do you really think anyone will use those mattresses?”
Ian grins. According to the number of e-mails he’s received, yeah. Fifty people, in fact.
Meandering around the apartment, I search for the 50. I cannot count five. I see Ian, a lonely bartender and a chunky boy in the corner with glasses and a plaid shirt. A reporter and photographer from Boston University also drift from one room to another, their expressions as disdainful as Al Gore’s when he debated with Bush in 2000. Including my friend and me, attendees at the orgy number only seven.
But the night is young. More people will come. Ian pours himself a drink and looks around the room. I wonder, aloud, why he decided to throw the party.
“I don’t know, I just figured I’d put this thing together,” he says. “It seemed so f—ing cool. What does that even mean, Votergasm? I wanted to find out. I figured there’s no better way than to throw one.”
Ian found out about Votergasm from his favorite radio host, Rush Limbaugh. “Since I’m a liberal, all I listen to is conservative radio,” he says, only slightly tongue-in-cheek. Back in September, he heard Rush go on and on about Votergasm, about how Rush wanted to shut it down and about the moral depravation of American youth culture. He heard Rush’s exclamation upon viewing the site, “Oh, folks, I don’t know what I’ve done to you, oh, no. I just got page two delivered to me. Don’t let your kids go to this place, please, whatever you do, thank goodness school is in session.”
Ian realized he needed to visit Votergasm.
Once he did, he was convinced. “I’ve always been a fan,” he says, shrugging, “of that whole 1970s acid-and-sex spirit.”
It’s 10:06 p.m. now, and three more guests have arrived. One, a thick-waisted man with crooked teeth in his mid-30s named John, sits next to me on the floor. “What’s everyone drinking?” he greets us.
“Appletinis,” someone responds.
“Oh,” he says. “But I have 15-year-old Scotch! Anyone want some?” He pulls out a silver flask, offers it to me. “No, thanks,” I say. He insists. “No, really,” I say. “But thanks.” I cross an arm over my chest. I have caught him “reading my badge.”
The other two guests, Liz Boisvert and Gabriel Mireles, came together. Liz, a 24-year-old from Boston, doesn’t seem the type to jump on a sex party — wrapped in a baggy shirt and jeans, her wide, cosmetics-free face looks about 14 years old. But when she heard of the party from her favorite radio host, Terri Gross, she says, she decided to come.
“Gross was skeptical in such a way like, ‘Oh, kids these days,'” Liz says. “And I am a kid these days.” She points to Gabriel, her partner in sexual crime. “And I thought he’d like it because of the scantily clad women.”
For the moment, though, scantily clad women are limited to the Web site. I’m in a turtleneck sweater and jeans and now have my arms semi-permanently folded over my chest. The two reporters from Boston University wear snug shirts but have made it clear that they refuse to be involved beyond their Citizen badges. When they deign to speak to other guests, they fire questions like, “So, do you plan on getting laid tonight?”
Whether they blush in response or not, all the partygoers did arrive with plans to get laid tonight. And, despite the disappointing turnout, most still plan to.
Take Liz and Gabriel, who tell me they are confident they’ll have sex. Liz and Gabriel have been dating for two years.
I suddenly understand their confidence. Oh, okay, I say. So you’ll be fulfilling your pledge together.
Liz and Gabriel grin shyly.
Sleeping together would be “the easy way out,” Liz says. They actually want to, um, mix it up a little. If they meet people they like, they can split off, or, well, even add a person or two into the bedroom with them. To be honest, they sort of expected an orgy going on here when they arrived. But there’s still time.
Of course, if they don’t find anyone, it’s not a problem.
“We could come together — in more ways than one,” Liz says. She smiles at me.
I grin back. Her gaze becomes penetrating. I drop my eyes to my notes.
Meanwhile, John with the Scotch sits at my elbow, talking about the interplay between sex and politics.
“It’s an old ’60s thing,” he says. He’s a teaching assistant at Harvard, so he knows what he’s talking about. “Anti-war protesters get chicks.”
That kind of radical movement seems to be coming around again, he says. It goes in 30-year cycles. And hey, if Bush wins, the bright side is that the counter-culture — and the sex-politics dynamic — will strengthen even more. Not that it’s worth a Bush victory, he adds hastily.
John may say that combining sex and politics is an accepted, historically rooted idea, but he’s more skittish about the mix than he’ll let on. After all, he won’t give me his last name. Somehow, I doubt he’s concerned that his coworkers will find out he voted. John’s not the only one worried about having his name associated with Votergasm; even some of the party-planners refused to give full names.
I still want to think that Votergasm is as much a political revolution as a sexual outlet. But I’m starting to believe the -ergasm tail is wagging the voter- dog.
But even those who didn’t want to associate publicly with Votergasm still wanted to explore Votergasm’s meaning. Take Kevin from the Rochester Institute of Technology, for example, who said he disagreed with John that Votergasm is a recycled idea.
“There’s a much more complex dynamic there,” he told me on the phone. “Those revolutionary movements were political dissent, and people fighting against the existing political condition.”
Votergasm is different. Votergasm encourages citizens to work within the system. And Votergasm celebrates politics, gleefully and irreverently.
And Votergasm works, Kevin said. Many young Americans don’t vote because they distrust politics and want nothing to do with it. But even just talking about sex is “the ultimate ice breaker,” Kevin said, “entertaining, enlightening, embarrassing.” Sex makes politics not only more fun, but more accessible.
In other words, Votergasm plays on more complex emotions than a simple lust for the blonde on the Web site. For voters bored by politics, the scandal of sex lends current events a hip edge. For more mistrustful voters, the very innateness of sexual desire means that Votergasm, rather than radicalize politics, makes civic involvement seem softer, more comfortable. By pulling politics into the bedroom, Votergasm pulls politics closer to home.
Step Five: Find A Pledge To Go Home With.
It’s 10:51 p.m., and another guest has arrived. He’s large, bearded and wearing a hat with a red feather. When I encounter him, he is taping a picture of John Kerry to the wall. In the photo, the presidential hopeful gazes adoringly at a young man. Both the young man and John Kerry are nude.
The guest notices me. He smiles. Adobe Photoshop, he explains cheerily. He came here because, well, he’s always looking for a place where his work will be appreciated. As I watch, he takes down a flyer of Ralph Nader’s face, peels the used tape off the back and affixes it to another of his pieces — a grinning group portrait of the Bush administration with a brightly wrapped missile.
“And who knows,” the artist adds. “I might get laid.”
Few guests admire his hasty-but-heartfelt exhibit. Instead, they sit on the floor, watching the television as electoral results flow in. Kerry’s down. So, it seems, are the hopes of people in the room. The Political Orgy is open to supporters of all parties; I have yet to encounter a Republican.
As the electoral college bounces further in favor of Bush, everyone curses. No one makes eye contact. Eye contact would acknowledge that, three hours in, the party remains all men (with the exception of Liz and the journalists). But the roots of the unsociability run deeper than embarrassment. Everyone is in denial about the election, and is depressed, and wants to hurt alone. They care so deeply that the likelihood of a Bush victory pains them out of any thoughts of camaraderie.
We are voters — Votergasms or not.
Votergasm could be dangerous. A sexual reward could push people to the polls who should not be there, people sex-starved enough to make slipshod choices in the hope of a Votergasm. And, indeed, Political Orgy guests seem sex-starved. But they salivate over voting first, Votergasm second, says Liz, looking around the room. Votergasm is not political prostitution.
Michelle Collins agreed.
“We don’t see it as selling or trading sex,” she told MSNBC in October. “We think sex is a beautiful thing that — like voting — many people don’t realize that they should be participating in.”
Yet as political hope wanes for the pledges, so does any hope of bed-hopping. I wander into the room where, Ian said earlier, 50 people wanted to have sex. I examine the blankets on the two mattresses. They are as untouched and pristine as the party’s pledges themselves. All guests remain fully clad. Some are even starting to back down, to give other reasons for why they chose to come to the Political Orgy, in a vacant apartment on a dark street in Cambridge, hosted by a man they don’t know, when they could be out with friends just down the street in Copley Square, where Kerry is supposed to speak.
In fact, John says, he’d estimate no fewer than 80 percent of the guests are here “for the novelty of it.” Him, too, of course. He was merely curious to see what type of people would be here.
“I didn’t think they’d be desperate people, I thought they’d be attractive, intelligent people,” he says. After all, he adds between swigs from his flask, “the Web site is very hip.” He hardly needs to add, “And the blonde was hot.”
Suddenly, everybody’s head swings. A girl has entered the party.
And, unlike the others, she isn’t toting a notebook. Or a camera. Or a boyfriend.
Hope hits like a missile. A real female Votergasmer! She is the heroine of the hour! The savior of the Political Orgy! The nymph who will pull levers and fill ballot boxes and turn votes into Votergasms! The fearless leader who will roll the revolution from its fallow hole in Hades and push it toward the bright horizon of youth involvement and sexual liberation and liberal government!
And then she takes off her jacket. Everyone can see her boy briefs and, then, everyone can see her nipples. The guests in the room gulp.
I want to get there first. I approach her.
But Emily, I discover, is not a pledge. She is, instead, a psychology major at the University of Southern Maine. So when she found out about Votergasm and felt shocked, her next reaction, naturally, was shock at her shock. What sort of societal limitation had trained her to respond so irrationally to a desire as innate to humanity as the sexual act? Since when did she allow restrictive cultural norms to dictate her emotive responses to events?
She realized she needed to “investigate,” she says. I see a nearby male guest perk up.
“I’m actually celibate,” she adds, cheerfully. The guest’s face drops.
But she wants other people to have sex, Emily says.
As we talk, we are facing the room with the two mattresses. They remain unsullied. Emily sighs.
“I tried to catalyze the party with this,” she says, pulling her dress straight out before her, the hemline suddenly yanked so high it would be scandalous if the dress weren’t already see-through. She drops her hem, lets it float from her hands and fall back to her ankles. The guests’ dreams of Emily as Votergasm’s savior float away with it.
Step Six: Head Home With Your Pledge. Have Crazy
By 1:05 a.m., most people have left. Two more couples came and went, but single women who have pledged as Patriots are nowhere to be seen. And Bush has won the election.
Emily pulls out a sketch pad and a box of crayons. The sketch pad is full of scribbles, and she shows them to the small knot of people in the room shyly, explaining she’s not much of an artist. But she wants us to let our emotions out on the pad. We’ll work on a picture together, she says, and each add something as we pass it around.
By the time it gets to me, the lime-green outline of a naked woman is surrounded with a purple “BUSH SUCKS, this is the saddest I’ve been in 4 years.”
Nobody’s mind is on sex any longer.
On my way home, alone, pepper spray nesting unused in my purse, I think about the people at the party. Nobody there seemed to be motivated to vote by Votergasm alone. And nobody even experienced any Votergasms. If the Web site didn’t catalyze political involvement or sexuality, what, really, did it accomplish?
Step Seven: Wake Up The Next Morning, Refreshed and Happy. You’ve Done Your Part for America!
When I get home, I immediately contact Votergasm party hosts. I wonder if the Cambridge Orgy was an anomaly, if the other 229 celebrations were swinging sexfests. The first e-mail I receive is from Jim Rogers, who helped throw a Votergasm party for American expats in Beijing, China.
There was “no sex,” he wrote. “Not that I know of, anyway!”
And many of the other hosts I talked to — including Kevin, the student from Rochester — say they had to cancel their parties at the last minute. In most cases, they simply couldn’t generate enough interest. Or the interest they did receive was only from men.
I search online to see what sort of experiences other guests had at their Votergasm parties. There is little media coverage to be found. But I do find one column written by Lisa Drostova of California’s East Bay Express. The title? “Coitus Interruptus.” According to the article, Lisa, who pledged as an American Hero, went to find an event listed at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. She followed twisting halls and curving stairs, only to arrive at the right address: a dark and unoccupied swimming pool. She’d been had, and not in a Votergasm kind of way. Refusing to give up, Lisa then tracked down the one other Votergasm event listed in Berkeley, only to find 40 students, most of them male, an atmosphere “more dismal than festive.” The closest Lisa got to having sex that night was finding a crumpled Votergasm badge stuck to her shoe.
For a moment, my old dream flashed before my eyes: the red, white and blue disco balls, the techno versions of the national anthem, the Votergasmers cavorting in lingerie. Faced with the facts, I now admit to myself that the scene played out only in imagination and cyberspace.
Votergasm was a bust.
But is that bad?
After all, although only the desperate and the detached attended Votergasm parties, we would have voted anyway. And the rest were too sophisticated, too politically passionate, to need sex to pull them to the polls. They didn’t need Votergasm.
And then I come across the number: 17 percent. We made up 17 percent of all voters.
The same as 2000.
Seventeen percent cannot be right. I scroll down an article and catch a quote from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “The youth leave you at the altar every time.”
I shudder at the smugness of the words. And I shudder at the implications. Whether or not we shunned Votergasm, we didn’t vote. We proved, once again, that we are an apathetic, selfish group, unable even to spend half an hour to do our civic duty. The promise of sex for votes couldn’t help us. Nothing can.
A few days later, however, sick and tired of hearing of how little the youth helped the vote, I decide to recheck the numbers. On rockthevote.com, the Web site of a more-mainstream effort to get young people to vote, an interesting page greets me. The bright red-and-white words catapult off my computer screen. “YOU DID IT! 2004 Youth Turnout: 51.6%. 2000 Youth Turnout: 42.3%.”
According to exit polls, 21 million voters were between the ages of 18 and 30. It was the highest number of young voters in more than a decade. And 8 million of 2004’s 13 million first-time voters were under age 30. Yet because all age groups turned out to the polls in record numbers, the percentage of voters who were youths remained at 17 percent.
Still, I remind myself, the increase in young voters wasn’t even 10 percent. Does that merit the bold “YOU DID IT!” emblazoned across my screen? After all, youths didn’t prove we are more passionate about politics than our elders. We didn’t shatter stereotypes.
We may not have beaten older America to the polls. But we did solidify our position as just one part of a more-involved America: old and young, red and blue.
Meanwhile, the Votergasm blonde solidified herself as just one more failed attempt to get out the youth vote. She still sashays across the screen, unaware and silent, swathed in her black bikini, one hand covering her heart. She still pledges to vote. To have sex. To experience — a Votergasm. She is condemned to try to sell sex for votes for as long as cyberspace allows, months after her method proved unsuccessful.
Because, as it turns out, 51.6 percent of young Americans don’t need the blonde.
The rest need much, much more. n
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”348″ ]