Justin Timberlake — He’s Got His Vote In A Box

from my contributions on The Huffington Post:

Oct.14, 2008

Las Vegas, Nevada: Clark County Amphitheater.

I took a trip this weekend with http://www.lacyd.org to encourage voters, both young and old, and of all ethnicities to vote this election for the Democratic ticket. While much of my personal voter engagement is to encourage Latino voter turn out, I was both surprised and amused to have been invited to attend a rally where Justin Timberlake would be speaking.
Our group of more than 40 young professionals, most of which work in some capacity of government and are almost all college educated, arrived to the spot around 9:00am.
Some of us where disbursed to attract people at the local outlets, and others set up tables with signs to register people to vote or to collect pledge cards for early voting.
We waited, and waited and then we waited some more. We talked to the few people that were there. Close to 11am, Timberlake’s caravan pulls up and the show begins. By this point, there were about 240+ people in the audience, a location that could easily hold at least three times that amount.
Timberlake and his girlfriend, actress Jessica Biel came onto the open stage and began doing their thing. They joked and talked about wanting to get involved, the importance of the youth vote and how it was necessary for the country to see a change, a change we could believe in. YAWN.
For the most part, most of the audience in attendance were young people who had driven from other states to help Nevada with voter turn out, groups from UCLA, USC, general student groups, or young professional groups, like the one I was with.
Some students in attendance were local, and some older voters thought Obama was going to be there.
I learned a couple of things — Timberlake and Biel are very cool for wanting to address young people and use their celebrity to get out the vote but their efforts might have been under served. Most of the people in attendance were already registered to vote and no one was hearing the message for the first time. This was a pep rally, minus the pep. The guy who attempted to rally up the crowd was not very good and kept asking people if they knew any Obama chants and cheers. Very weird. By the time the event was done, it was noon, and the entire morning was lost. I also learned that some ground organizers have forgotten why they are there.
When we arrived, one of the leaders had started speaking and when she was done, someone asked a question about Nevada deadlines, and was answered with “If you would have gotten here on time, you would know the answer to that.” Not the best answer to give a volunteer who had just driven there for six hours and wanted to help. Especially not the answer to give a volunteer who would be doing nothing for the next few hours while we all waiting for the special celebrity guests to arrive.
Needless to say, Jessica Biel brought up Roe vs. Wade, and discussed how the election of our next president would also determine the appointment of new Supreme Court Justices, who would serve for life. A point made clear to point out the differences between Democrats and Republicans.
In closing, Timberlake spoke about high taxes in which he joked, “I already get taxed for things I DON’T believe in, I don’t mind being taxed for things that I do believe in.” He also joked about not going to college, which made some students laugh and others look at each other uncomfortably. Both were very gracious and extremely down to earth, taking time after the rally to talk to people and sign autographs.
Outside Nevada volunteers for the most part, who made up a huge part of the audience were happy for the photo op, but sadden by the ground organizers who used them as props. They, myself included, went to Nevada to knock on doors, make voter contact and increase Obama’s chances of winning the swing state, not to spend five hours of a Saturday morning standing around in the cold doing nothing. It was clear, by the numbers present, that the crowd would have been embarrassingly small had we not attended.

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