Wrestling with Politics
Wrestling and the politcal arena. At a first glance they seem as though they are at two very different ends of the spectrum. However, these two areas have seen an overlap in recent times that must be addressed, not only by the wrestling world but by the political world as well.
By now I am sure that most people in the United States have heard of Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota and former professional wrestler. He was elected in 1998 and has had profound impact on the political world with his honest form of politics. He does not use any gimmicks to make people like him he simply says what he believes, a style that struck a chord with Minnesota voters. This is not a new phenomena. Many celebrities become politicians. Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea has even considered entering the political arena. Jerry “The King” Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis. Wrestling and politics go hand in hand. They are all about showmanship and getting your ideas across to the public. So why shouldn’t one benefit from the other and vice versa?
The WWF also this year began a new program, SmackDown your vote. Through this program thousands of new voters were registered across the United States at every WWF event. These new voters were eligible to vote in the 2000 Presidential election. This program was non-partisan and was praised by both political parties. Chyna and the Rock were both invited to speak at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as well as CEO of the WWF Linda McMahon. This campaign was designed to help better involve young voters in the election process, a process that they have been absent from for far to long.
The WWF campaign was to culminate with a live debate on WWF SmackDown between Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush. The debate was to be moderated by none other than Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura. This invitation was declined by both candidates. They felt that it was not an appropriate forum to discuss the issues. They simply ignored the millions of WWF fans and thousands of young voters that watch SmackDown each week.
The fact is that the debate at a live WWF event would have been encouraging to both candidates and to the younger voters. Politicians always complain about the apathy of young. Here was a chance to get young voters more involved in the election process by meeting at a forum and discussing issues important to us. It might have brought voter turnout to a higher level. The fact is that according to a survey of young voters, more people knew who Jesse Ventura was than who the Vice President was. Gore joked about this phenomena, by remarking about how he should become more like Ventura, enter the ring, and wear a feather boa.
I hate to get on a soap box and preach, but here is my suggestion. All those young voters (those between the ages of 18 and 25) get out there and make your voice heard. Demand that our issues be given more attention. Show the WWF that their effort was not in vain. Wrestling is media that politics can use to get their message out there. The voters who watch wrestling are not the stereotypical rednecks that we hear about. They are real people. Help make SmackDown Your Vote a success beyond all belief, and maybe one day our politicians will grace our presence in the ring.