Young Local Voters in Bedford Join Political Campaigns to Better the Economic and Fiscal State of the Nation for Youths
With current national debt and unemployment rate concerns plaguing the country, local Bedford resident, Michael Knowles (Fox Lane ’08 Alum) uses his skill sets in acting to bring about change for the future of current youths in America.
With the current unemployment rate of recent grads near 25% and the burden of the national debt crisis placed in the laps of U.S. youths, it’s a tough time to be a young voter.
Knowles is a current undergraduate at Yale University studying history and Italian literature. While he has no intentions of being an Italian poet, he has taken an interest in heading youth initiatives for national and local political campaigns. Michael Knowles plans to pursue a career in acting once he graduates from Yale and uses his skill set to contribute to campaigns.
He started by creating YouTube commercials for the Nan Hayworth Campaign in 2010. “I just want to be an actor, that’s my thing. So, I started making these YouTube commercials under the banner of her [Nan Hayworth’s] campaign. They were fun commercials I wanted to make about the younger generation and the national debt problem,” he said.
At first the commercials were not as successful as Knowles had hoped. He created a commercial mocking a 1968 LBJ commercial, "Daisy," and called it: "Daisy Grows Up." Instead of having a little girl counting pedals and having an atomic bomb going off in the background, a current youth voter is counting dollar bills and a “debt bomb” goes off.
The true evolution of Knowles’ commercial efforts came through the creation of his “Young Voters for Nan Hayworth” group. One of the members, Frankie Fuhrman (Fox Lane ’08 alum) noted how great John Hall (Hayworth’s competitor) was as a singer in the band “Orleans.” Knowles realized that this would be a great campaign strategy: Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour; get John Hall out of Washington and back on stage.
Knowles created a campaign commercial, “Vote with Me,” using the Orleans tune “Dance with Me.” The commercial highlighted the youth’s concerns about the national debt crisis and the unemployment rate. The commercial notes that when John Hall was part of “Orleans” the national debt was at a reasonable level along with unemployment rates.
The commercial got a tremendous amount of hits and John Hall’s team became concerned with the attention the video was gaining. “When I got back to school, I got a letter from Orleans threatening to sue me unless I took the video down. They accused me of a slew of things including cyber-squatting and copy-right infringement. I actually ended up publishing the Cease and Desist letter once I found a lawyer,” Knowles said. “The campaign manager for John Hall released a statement to News 12 stating that the video was 'downright radical and extreme' and he urged the Hudson-Valley residents to privatize social security, which was funny because there was no mention of policy in the commercial I made,” Knowles further commented.
As concern over the controversial commercial rose, the Associated Press, News 12, and the New York Times picked up the story and Knowles gained further national attention for his efforts. People started looking closely at the Nan Hayworth campaign. John Hall even made his own counter-attack video on Knowles using the tune "Still the One" called "Patriots for John Hall." Although Knowles faced hateful comments from local residents and Hall supporters, the law suit eventually fell through and Hayworth won the election.
Knowles is still taking an active role in political campaigns and has his sights aimed at the white house. He worked on a student-run initiative (Students for Solvency) to draft Mitch Daniels for the 2012 presidential race. Knowles even appeared in another humorous online video. This time, he drafted Jimmy McMillan (of "The Rent is Too Damn High") to make an appearance. The slogan for the initiative was, "the debt is too damn high." Unfortunately, Daniels declined the opportunity to run, but Knowles is still working to support candidates he believes will better the future condition of U.S. Youth.
"We often see in news articles that 'the economy is unexpectedly is un-recovered' or 'the unemployment rate took a turn for the worst.' The question we must ask is 'how many times do you need to report this before it is no longer unexpected?'" Knowles said.
He further stated, "At the end for the day, there is no way to speak truthfully about spending reductions or dealing responsibly with our debt if you don't address entitlement reform [ . . . ] If the Dems are not showing concern for our generation, they are going to lose us. They need to deal with the debt problem and job rate seriously."
No one knows what the outcome for the 2012 elections will be, but it is certain that there are concerns for the youth in our area as to what their futures will entail. Young people are getting involved in campaigns in the ways they feel fit to make sure that the people who they want in office will represent their needs. With the national debt and unemployment rate rising, how will youths be able to even pay off the debt if they don't have the opportunity to make money?
"I think with the upcoming elections, young voters are not going to be taken in by the glitz and glamour [ . . . ] They don't have jobs so it's going to be harder to donate to Obama's campaign because they won't have the money to do so, " Knowles commented.
Michael Knowles is still working on political campaigns and is currently the co-chairman of the Huntsman Youth Campaign. And in accordance with his previous efforts, he is still making political commercials to support his candidate. Knowles is also pursuing his acting career and even did an online web series called "Connections" with his classmates at Yale.
As the November 2012 campaigns gain momentum, we as a community can look to see what our local youth are doing to support the candidates they believe will improve their future conditions. Stay tuned.