UPDATED 8:05 A.M. MST to remind you to VOTE or caucus today if you live in a Super Tuesday state or U.S. territory!
Froma Harrop makes a great point today in a column that ran in the Denver Post this morning:
The question for progressives is: What happens to [Bernie Sanders’] passionate followers in the event he leaves the race? Or more to the point: Is there a way to keep his ardent fans ardent about participating in the electoral politics? Will they keep voting when the candidates are less charismatic, when the election’s not in a big-deal presidential year, when the solutions are muddied in the reality of two-party politics?
Sanders’ feat in electrifying younger voters has been extraordinary. And that extends to his success with many young Latinos and African-Americans, whose elders went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.
But the fickleness of the youth vote has been the bane of progressive politics. It is why the right wing controls Congress.
She then takes us back to the dark days of ancient history: 2008, when a newcomer to presidential politics thrilled and inspired young Americans to get out and vote to make him the Democratic presidential nominee, and eventually, the president. But, lo–even after saving the global economy from a Great Depression, bailing out Detroit (yes, at the price of bailing out Wall Street as well), putting two liberal women justices (including the first Latin@) on the Supreme Court, and passing the Affordable Care Act, those young, inspired voters ghosted on the Democratic president. “Many of his younger voters, led to believe in Technicolor miracles, were unimpressed. The 2010 midterms came around, and they stayed home. Not so the older Tea Party Republicans, who despised much of what Obama stood for.”
Here’s the thing about these right-leaning activists: Sometimes they have a candidate they adore. Sometimes they don’t. But they vote. They vote in presidential years and in non-presidential years, when the public isn’t paying much attention. They vote for the state legislators who usually end up creating districts that favor their party’s candidates.
So as older conservatives marched to the polls, many young liberals did a vanishing act. Having represented 18 percent of the electorate in 2008, voters under the age of 30 accounted for only 11 percent in 2010, their poorest performance in two decades.
Democrats suffered devastating losses, and progressive priorities went into the deep freeze.
As the old joke goes, “thanks, Obama!” When it reality, Barack Obama and all of us should say, “thanks, flaky Obama voters who skip non-presidential election years!” Old people (in our 40s) like me and my husband not only voted for Obama in 2008, we also voted for Dem candidates up and down the ballot in 2010 and 2014, in addition to voting to re-elect Obama in 2012. Where were all of those young progressives while the Republicans took over Congress and state and local government, friends?
I learned the folly of relying on the enthusiasm of the youth vote in 2004, both in observing the rapid collapse of Howard Dean’s insurgent candidacy in Iowa that year, as well as in November, when the enthusiasm of the youth vote was going to make George W. Bush a one-term, never-elected president. (Remember that fond hope?)
And yet, all of the talk has been about “Hillary, can you excite us?” and even after a whupping in South Carolina last weekend, “Clinton now has a new challenge if Super Tuesday looks like tonight: beating Sanders without alienating his supporters.” Only men can get “momentum” from beating an opponent by a 47% margin of victory, apparently. As Melissa McEwan helpfully suggested, “I hope Clinton’s sensitive enough to make each Sanders supporter a sandwich.”
So explain to me again why it’s so impressive that the cool kidz are showing up for Sanders rallies in huge numbers, and why Clinton supporters should be embarrassed that it’s only deeply, totally uncool grannies and grampas who are voting her her? Those grannies and grampas will show up to vote, and maybe give her control of Congress and defend her achievements in 2018 and 2022 rather than recommending a primary challenge in 2020.
See you tonight at the caucus, grannies!