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Column: Election Coverage Generates Pop Culture Gems

This story was written by Devon McReynolds, Daily Bruin

My friends, the time has finally come.

I hope most of you know today is Election Day. For the four of you who read my column last week, you know that my favorite holiday is Halloween, but coming in a close second is this high holiday of American democracy. It appeals to my type-A sense of duty, my appreciation of American history, soaring bald eagles and hope for the Future of Our Children. But mostly, Ill just be glad that Ill never have to hear the words Bill Ayers, maverick or The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer ever again.

You probably need no motivation to go vote if youre registered and in possession of a brain, but this classic American experience can be heightened with some inspirational pieces of pop culture. This event only comes once every four years, but unlike leap year, theres an actual purpose to it. When I celebrate a holiday, especially one soaked in gravitas like Election Day, I like to revel in every aspect that makes it what it is, so here are some ways that can inspire you to feel like youre actually doing something of importance when you go vote today.

Four years ago, P. Diddy tried to mobilize the MTV demographic with his trendy Vote or Die campaign. The reasons why this initiative failed in numbers far greater than those of Texans who still think Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim. But this time around, rappers with far more clout than Diddy Lil Wayne and Jay-Z have been publicly encouraging their fans to get out and vote, because they are. If Weezys pulling the lever and making it rain votes, youve got to do it too.

But as much as I appreciate both of these politically aware Mr. Carters, they really cant compare to the deep inspiration I receive from watching the television show that got me through my angsty teen years and the Bush administration: The West Wing. If this show doesnt make you want to shout U-S-A from the rooftops, you have a heart of stone and are probably a terrorist. Or French.

I dont like a lot of the things that America does, but I believe that the fundamentals of the U.S. of A. are strong. I love this show because its exactly like how I would want the White House to be run, but its not a totally naive fantasy-land. Sure, the people who work at the White House are insanely smart and funny and distinguished-ly attractive, but they fight for good ... using the wittiest banter imaginable.

I was lucky enough to wake up in a day-after-Halloween lethargic daze this past Saturday to a West Wing marathon on Bravo. And while I unashamedly own every season of the show on DVD, I was pleased to see that the same channel that broadcasts The Real Housewives of Atlanta recognizes the cultural significance of the show and the appropriateness of trying to pump up viewers for America. Because when President Bartlet makes a speech to his staff about the true spirit of freedom and democracy and goodness, or when Josh Lyman schools conservative fundamentalists with his cocky Yankee wit, its enough to make you think that there might be hope in politics. After all, the characters were based on real people, right?

I wont expound on the genius nuances of The West Wing (believe me, I could and probably will write some sort of book about it one day), but I can say that while I know the show (unfortunately) isnt real, its power to inspire certainly is. But if The West Wing doesnt make your heart soar like an eagle oer the amber waves of grain, you can turn to more current YouTube gems to spark your political interests. Its Raining McCain, having received nearly 2 million views, is a cheesy music video by a trio of women called the McCain Girls, a Mervyns-blouse-clad version of Destinys Child, who sing a song praising John McCain to the tune of Its Raining Men. Its probably one of the most hilarious things Ive everseen, especially when little images of John McCain actually start falling like rain droplets and one of the McCain girls splashes them on her face. Aah, refreshing!

Another example of a pop song parody came from a class of seventh-graders at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, who changed the words from T.I.s Whatever You Like to You Can Vote However You Like, with one half of the class rapping in support of McCain, the other in support of Barack Obama, with some really awesome southern rap dance moves. This is inspiring on a West Wing-type of level, because seeing adorable little kids engaged in the political process they have no say in is like seeing Bill OReilly refrain from screaming at one of his guests it just warmsthe heart.

Its easy to be cynical about voting, but now its romantic in an old-school Mr. Smith Goes to Washington kind of way. Plus, voting automatically grants you the right to complain when the new president starts messing things up, and isnt that what democracy is all about?

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