As a former member of the Music Row Democrats, I found this story about Twang That Vote very odd. If ever there was a group that said one thing while doing another, this is it.
First of all, I have no problem with anyone trying to engage music fans, getting more people registered to vote, etc. Great idea, we all need to be involved. And this is admirable:
First on the agenda? Ridding people of the idea that country fans are all white, male Republicans.
Yes, that’s what we in Nashville have been saying since forever. But, dudes?
Hamel says “doing it through music is obviously great,” and he’s already gotten support from such artists as the Oak Ridge Boys’ Richard Sterban, Charlie Daniels and Eric Paslay, plus someone who perfectly straddles the world of country and Congress: Ayla Brown, the daughter of Sen. Scott Brown.
Oh, those guys. Right, they’ll certainly dispel those stereotypes. /sarcasm. This thing reads like a freaking press release. And please: Ayla Brown has zip to do with country music. She tried out for American Idol in 2006, getting the ax before making it to the top 12 singing Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion songs. I mean, seriously? “Perfectly straddles”? Give me a break.
And then there’s this:
In order to earn the support of such artists, Hamel said he had to assure them of one thing: There would be no Dixie Chicks moment.
“We’re not going to walk them into a punch. … They’re so risk-averse after the whole Dixie Chicks thing,” Hamel said, referring to the 2003 controversy when the group’s lead singer, Natalie Maines, said she was “ashamed” of President George W. Bush.
“We made a commitment to them and our corporate partners that we’re not going to get involved in compromising their brands as artists or their brands as corporations. We’re just going to talk straight about the importance of voting and civic duty and leave the rest to other people.”
Charlie Daniels, risk-averse? He can’t keep his fat yap shut attacking President Obama! He’s called him a socialist, an elitist, possibly a Muslim, and a failure. Post SCOTUS-healthcare ruling he Tweeted:
“No American right is safe now. Obama has just become a king.”
Not quite the same as saying you’re “ashamed President Bush is from Texas,” which is actually what Natalie Maines said, and as we all know is the worst thing you could possibly say about a president! Right? Of course, there won’t be any Dixie Chicks moments because It’s Always Okay When You’re A Republican.
So, no. I don’t expect any “Dixie Chicks” moments from a crowd of far-right Republicans pretending to Twang That Vote. I also don’t expect this to be anything other than what it obviously is: another piece of GOP astroturf. Here’s a bio on Max Hamel, he works for a Republican PR firm out of Virginia called Allied Public Affairs. His partner, Chris Ashby, has to be this guy, an election lawyer with a background in Republican campaigns. He’s supposedly one of the country’s top recount lawyers, and his firm does lots of work for lobbyists.
In other words, just another phony grassroots campaign designed to put some shine on the fading Republican brand. Good luck with that. Kids are pretty savvy today. Don’t think the Charlie Daniels vote is your target demographic, anyway.
It’s just all very puzzling. I’m okay with a conservative group reaching out to yet another demographic the Republican Party is driving away in droves: young people. But that’s so obviously not what this is. The whole “non-partisan” pretense is very weird, for one thing. And you aren’t going to reach young people with Charlie Daniels and Richard Sterban, who were last on the radio when I was in high school.
This has to be some kind of glossy PR campaign designed to attract corporate dollars (and provide cover to tour sponsors, promoters and venues scared of looking “too partisan”), because anyone with any connection to Nashville can smell the bullshit wafting a mile away.