When We All Vote, the voter registration outreach program launched by Michelle Obama, has joined with the New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander to raise funds for the organization that is educating and registering new voters for the 2022 midterm elections.
For those who contribute at least $125 to the organization, Alexander is autographing 1,000 copies of a limited-edition vinyl of the group’s performance of its 1998 pop classic “You Get What You Give” from Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration.
In addition to the $125,000 the giveaway will raise, Alexander has also pledged to donate $125,000 to When We All Vote. The exclusive vinyl records will be available for a limited time here.
“That summer I ran away at 16 in 1986 from Grosse Pointe [Mich.] to LA, my dream was that music could change the world—even if it’s just a drop in the ocean. I still hope it can in some way by supporting When We All Vote’s urgent and inspiring nonpartisan work,” Alexander said in a statement. “Voting rights affect everyone when over 500 voter suppression laws have been introduced in 48 states since 2020, and some have already passed. Protecting America’s democracy and voting rights is unquestionably one of the most urgent frontlines at which When We All Vote and all Americans stand.”
The news comes a day after the Supreme Court struck down a unanimous lower court’s order that Alabama needed to create a new congressional map that included two congressional districts with a majority of Black voters, instead of the new map that allows only one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts to be favorable to Black voters.
“I am very excited about this partnership and what it will do to advance When We All Vote’s mission to increase participation in our elections,” Michelle Obama said in a statement. “Music has an incredible power to unite people, and I’m proud to see artists like the New Radicals using their platform to inspire people to participate in our democratic process.”
“It’s one of the most beloved songs & cult albums of the last quarter century praised by Joni Mitchell to [critic] Robert Christgau, with an enduring message of hope and reminder that what we give to anything, including this country, is what we get back,” Stephanie Young, executive director of When We All Vote, said of the song, written by Alexander and Rick Nowels. U2 has called it the “greatest song they didn’t write.”
“This year, there will be elections at almost every level of government- from federal offices to Secretaries of State to school boards,” Young continued. “There is no time waste to get registered, organized and ready to vote. We are grateful for this generous gift that will not only inspire but help fuel our work as we fight for our Democracy.”
Alexander previously allowed the song to be used to drive people to the ballot box in November 2020 via an online ad that featured voters gleefully showing off their “I Voted” stickers as part of the Coda Campaign. The get-out-the-vote campaign, spearheaded by former entertainment attorney Fred Goldring, also included music from Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel and Dawes.
Biden’s connection to the song is a personal one. As Biden wrote in Promise Me, Dad, his 2017 book about his relationship with his son, Beau, who died from a brain tumor in 2015, he would often accompany his son to his chemotherapy treatments every other Friday. “During breakfast, he would often make me listen to what I thought was his theme song, ‘You Get What You Give’ by the New Radicals,” Biden wrote. “Even though Beau never stopped fighting and his will to live was stronger than most — I think he knew that this day might come. The words to the song are: ‘This whole damn world could fall apart/ You’ll be OK, follow your heart.’”
The song lyrics were recited at Beau Biden’s funeral, and before that, Barack Obama had used the song as early as 2008 to warm up his crowds.
The 2021 inauguration performance was the only time the New Radicals have performed the song since disbanding in 1999 before releasing a second single.
Michelle Obama created When We All Vote, a nonpartisan initiative of Civic Nation, in 2018 to increase voter participation and encourage people of all races and ages to vote.
In 2020, When We All Vote says it reached more than 100 million people to educate them about the voting process, resulting in more than 500,000 people starting or completing the voter registration process.