By Sam Foster
Smart and catchy messaging can have a huge impact on the campaign in the politics of today. For example, California unions are paying to have two actors follow around Republican candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina dressed as alter egos Queen Meg and Princess Carly. Google Queen Meg, you’ll find thousands of hits. The crass, but catchy titles have leaked their way into every major California publication.
So it’s a real pleasure when a local conservative campaign synthesizes a uniquely impressive, satirical messaging campaign. I stumbled upon the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour late last week and was quickly impressed with their content and slick political marketing.
The group’s shtick is that Republican challenger, Nan Hayworth, needs your help to defeat incumbent Democrat John Hall in November’s election so that in losing his congressional job, John Hall will be compelled to rejoin his band Orleans. For those of you not hip to 70’s pop rock, congressman John Hall was the lead singer and writer for the song “Still the One.”
Michael Knowles, a local Yale student, is the leader and founding member of the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour campaign. I caught up with him for the following interview:
How did you get involved with politics and what do you hope to be doing after you graduate from college?
I’ve been interested in politics for as long as I can remember. The earliest memory I have concerning politics is sitting at my grandparents’ dinner table, repeating the new phrase they had taught me: “Read my lips, no new taxes.” That was in 1992, and I don’t think my views have changed too much since. After college, I actually plan on becoming an actor. But then, I guess politics and acting aren’t all that different.
How did you get involved with the Hayworth campaign?
I became involved with the Hayworth campaign in early April. I’ve known Nan Hayworth since I was about nine years old. I can honestly say that she is one of the most intelligent, talented, and energetic people I’ve met in my life–truly the perfect candidate. This election is certainly the most important of my lifetime. Many people my age see the United States heading down a dangerous path and believe that we need to change direction before it is too late. When I heard that Nan was running for Congress, I knew I had to put any other summer plans on hold and help out in any way that I could.
What’s your specific goal with the site?
As we say in our mission statement, the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour seek to reunite the ’70s rock band Orleans in order to get John Hall on the road and out of Congress. When John Hall was the lead singer of Orleans, unemployment, the national debt, and the national debt as a percentage of GDP were all at reasonable levels. After his four disastrous years in Congress, unemployment has hit 9.5%, the national debt is over $13 trillion, and the national debt is almost equal to GDP. John Hall’s misguided votes have directly contributed to all of these increases. Great musician, terrible legislator.
How do you plan on getting voters to notice your site and remember your message?
Our first week online has been very encouraging in terms of visitors and subscribers to the website. I think the message and the messaging resonate well with people. As early as June, the John Hall campaign was hawking negative YouTube ads, which distorted Nan’s positions and sought to instill fear in the voters. I think this is really the wrong approach. That’s why the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour hope to win support for our cause with something that’s become all too rare in politics: a little humor.
John Hall’s band is hypersensitive about your group, what are your thoughts? Is it a sign that you have a catchy message? That you are an insufferable annoyance to the Hall campaign? Both? Neither?
We received the first angry emails from Orleans the day after we took the site online. My first thoughts were, “Wow! The guys who sang ‘Still The One’ hate my website enough to email me!” I think they just don’t know how to react to clever advertising. They really should be flattered–the entire message of our organization is that we love Orleans’ music and hope they reunite as soon as possible!
Any new projects in the works and how do you see your site evolving in the next few months?
We’re always working out new project ideas. We have a great group of young voters working to get Nan elected, so we’re fortunately never without new ideas. Over the next few months, the Young Voters plan on bringing you more videos and commentary on the election, Nan’s campaign, and how we plan to win in November.
How can other young voters show their support for Nan?
I’m glad you asked! There are a few ways other young voters can show their support for Nan. They can purchase Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour merchandise at our new online store, http://www.printfection.com/orleansreuniontour. They can sign our petition to reunite Orleans at http://www.orleansreuniontour.com/?page_id=36. And, of course, if they would like to help out in a more hands-on way, they are encouraged to email me at [email protected]
Are you a clandestine member of Yale’s secret society, Skull and Crossbones? If yes, were you inducted by George “the most unholy President of all time” W Bush? If not a member, would you tell me if you were?
As far as I understand, Skull and Bones comprises only seniors, and I am headed into my junior year. IvyGate Blog publishes a list of members every year, so I imagine it wouldn’t be too big a deal if word got out. Of course, at a school like Yale, people are much more secretive about their affiliations with, say, the College Republicans than they are about any senior societies.
What is one thing that I didn’t ask you, but should have?
Q: Where did the idea for an Orleans Reunion Tour come from?
A: One of our Young Voters thought of it while we were sitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts one morning. We had just finished greeting commuters at a train station and were talking about how we liked Hall’s music, even though we thought his politics were driving our country off a cliff. The Young Voter responded, “Let’s kill two birds with one stone and kick off the Orleans reunion tour.” We’ll let you know when it comes to pass.
Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour are off to a great start. Below is their first YouTube video, which was picked up by news site, NY Daily News:
The media may not be willing to corner John Hall and ask about his $1,000 donation to ethically deprived Charlie Rangel, but the Young Voters for an Orleans Reunion Tour were.
I can’t wait to see what Michael and the group come up with next!