Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Mything the Point of "Vote or Die"
VOTE OR DIE
So street. So angry. So earnest. So what?
I don't know what name he's rolling with today, but it's clear that Puff or P or whatever his nom de jour is, has as much commitment to consistent political activism as he does to consistent brand identity.
The punk pimping the label "Vote or Die" has apparently voted to take the money and run.
The "Vote or Die" campaign to register young voters for the 2004 election seemed to be everywhere two years ago - as Combs promoted its message on high-profile TV shows and several voter registration events around the country via a private plane chartered specifically for the occasion.
(Hold that thought because we're going to come back to that jet.)
Now that the election is over, it seems as if the organization behind "Vote or Die" has ended as well. According to Fox411 columnist Roger Friedman, Diddy's political organization Citizen Change is pretty much a done deal. Friedman says he was told by sources that Citizen Change was only meant to be an occasional thing. One person told him: "The group wasn't intended to be active between elections."
(Hold that thought because we're going to come back to continuity of coverage as well.)
The column also notes the expenses incurred by Citizen Change during its April to November 2004 run, which included approximately $80,000 in travel expenses for the "Vote or Die' plane tour, $100,000 for photography by Mark Seliger, $541,000 on advertising and $252,000 for billboards. Citizen Change's total expenses came to over $2 million.
Ok...now we're talking. Let's look a little closer at the money here folks. I don't like it when Delay, Gingrich, or Halliburton plays that game. I don't like it when some colllege drop out entertainer takes a bunch of kids and leads them on a merry romp so he can launder money and evade taxes.
Why do I say that? Because it's an outrage.
The group's Web site is gone. Fine.
So are their offices. Fine.
But like a snail, they leave a trail of slime behind them. Their federal tax filing is available on Guidestar.org, which records the filings of not-for-profits.
To complicate matters, Combs' other not-for-profit, Daddy's House, states on its 2004 federal tax filing that it gave $245,532 to Citizen Change. Daddy's House, which runs summer camps for impoverished kids and is run by Sister Souljah (aka Lisa Williamson-Rodriguez), still posted a 2004 a paper loss of $344,097.
(I checked....it's true.)
By the way, I also noted that while Combs got no compensation, Souljah took home 75K from Daddy's House. Oh, and they spent 52K in "transportation" costs.
Here's why I bring this to your attention:
I don't like it when Trent Lott tries to steal $700 Million by playing on people's sympathies.
I don't like it when The Pentagon misplaces $2.3 Trillion playing on people's patriotism.
I don't like it when The Hilton Family ® puts profits before people - especially wounded soldiers.
I sure as hell don't like it when a bunch of college drop outs take advantage of people's aspirations and pretend to offer them a political platform when they are really just pulling the wool over their eyes so they can pick people's pockets, launder the money and use it to pay for tax-free bling.
This damages legitimate political activism in communities that desperately need a voice. This compounds the cynicism of people who are already alienated from the political process. This makes it even harder for people who are doing the hard work of pounding pavement to register voters. This trivializes the political process and turns it into another marketing vehicle for the latest fashion in clothing, music, or ring tones.
To be honest, I always figured Combs for an opportunist just grabbing as much money as he could ... he's juvenile. The people I really hold accountable here are men who should know better...who profess to know better ...who claim to be in this struggle for the long run. Men like Russell Simmons and Al Sharpton. All I can say is, if Russell Simmons is more interested in getting invited to Donald Trump's parties than building the Democratic Party... just get off the bus.
Of course, like the other outrages I have lamented, this one comes as no surprise to anyone who followed "Vote or Die." Paris Hilton was one of their celebrity spokesmodels. She didn't even register to vote!
Mything the Point ©:
"Examining unexamined beliefs Americans accept on faith value."
I don't know what good came from Vote or Die. I still see some signs and T shirts so maybe it did help some people start thinking about politics and government. But while a cross country tour with Paris Hilton sounds pretty good, it wasn't the stated purpose of his organization.
I really like the concept of your blog. There are so many myths intertwined with history, somebody needs to point them out. Good luck!