WASHINGTON – America’s Got Talent host, actor and rapper Nick Cannon said he is standing firm on being “too broke to vote” in the 2016 presidential election but he still wants other people to exercise their “God-given right” in November.
Cannon, who endorsed President Obama in 2008 and 2012, was asked if he will be active in campaigning for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“I mean, I’m too broke to vote. I’m going to stand firm on that but I’m definitely, I’m going to pay close attention, you know what I mean, and I’m going to understand everything that’s going on, but I probably will not stand out and support any candidates just because I love the process. I’m more interested in the policy than I am the person,” Cannon, chief creative officer at RadioShack, said at the National Maker Faire in Washington last month, where he represented the company.
Cannon also attended the “Champions of Change for Making” event at the White House while he was in Washington.
He released a spoken word video in late March called “Too Broke to Vote,” which touched upon several political issues. Some news reports and blog posts said Cannon’s message to young people in the video was not to vote.
Canon explained his reasoning for making the video and the point he was trying to get across. He urged young voters to “educate” themselves on the issues and “not get caught up in the fanfare or the popularity contest” of the election.
“Everybody gets excited about the mindset, oh, you’ve got to vote, you’ve got to vote, but do you really understand what you are voting for, especially when it’s on the executive level? I mean, I’m a strong believer in making sure you embrace your community and you start that process there and educating yourself on what the policy is in your own community that affects you directly, but I think a lot of times we all get caught up in election year when it comes to the pageantry of who the president is going to be. And the purpose was to voice an opinion of a lot of – I would say, I don’t want to – a lot of idolatry,” Cannon said at the RadioShack booth during the event, which was held at the University of the District of Columbia.
“A lot of people in the community have certain feelings and then there’s the voices I hear when I talk to someone and they say, ‘man, I’m not worried about voting, I’m worried about getting a job.’ And that’s what we were really trying to express in that spoken word piece. A lot of people agreed and a lot of people didn’t agree with it, but it created a conversation and I think that’s what it is. I just want people to educate themselves on the process and not get caught up in the fanfare or the popularity contest,” he added.
In the video, Cannon raps, “Nobody for president. That’s my campaign slogan. We got money for wars but can’t feed our homeless. The government is hopeless. It’s like a reality show. The Real Lives of the House Liars.”
Despite the lyrics in the piece, Cannon said he still wants young people to vote in the election.
“Yeah, I mean, I want people to exercise their right, your God-given right, but know what you are doing and understand no matter who the president becomes there are issues that really need to be addressed that have nothing to do with that,” he said. “They are going to say what they need to say to get the job, but once they get the job then what’s going to actually happen to you and your community and how are those things going to move forward?”
During the Maker Faire, Cannon delivered a keynote speech to a crowd of young people and their parents about the importance of arts and science in public education.
“I would honestly say when we’re trying to rebuild communities and recondition mindsets it starts with education, and you know I always say the two things that are the most important to the community are education and jobs because once you learn the skill set you’ve got to be able to put forth and generate,” he said. “So for me that’s where it starts, especially when everybody chants the mantra of children are the future, that’s where we need to invest and it starts with giving them all the proper skills.”
Cannon told crowd he has been a “creator” his whole life.
“I wanted to figure out a way to make cool things affordable,” he said. “I had the opportunity to create my NCredible headphones and I think it was by 2010 or 2011 that we had sold over $80 million worth of headphones, second to Beats by Dre.”
His “NCredible” line of headphones was originally developed with Monster Cable but Cannon moved the brand to RadioShack when he became the company’s chief creative officer.
“I couldn’t afford $400 headphones — growing up I wasn’t the kid who had designer clothes, everybody would have ‘Air Jordans’ and I had ‘Scare Jordans.’ I believe it made me creative. I got excited because I couldn’t have the coolest of the cool,” he said.