Please explain why it’s a bad thing that (old, uncool) voters who actually vote support Hillary Clinton?

elvgrenvoteUPDATED 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.”

Harrop continues,

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!

31 thoughts on “Please explain why it’s a bad thing that (old, uncool) voters who actually vote support Hillary Clinton?

  1. I think the tough thing here is that when people ask Bernie Sanders HOW he thinks he’ll make his agenda happen, he says “we need a political revolution!” Which is deeply true in a way, but also speaks to the limitations of his candidacy – he can’t get what he wants done from the presidential seat, we actually need a new Congress. And that is a much more difficult problem. We need as much of a focus on legislative races on the left as the Tea Party has had on the right, instead of putting all our hope in presidential candidates.

    As a voter in a consistently uncontested blue state, I’m not really sure what to do about that, though….


    • Right on. Thanks for your comment. Yes, a new Congress would be a revolution! The 2008 election gave Barack Obama a Dem U.S. Senate as well as the House, which went to Dems in 2006. A President Clinton, who has campaigned and raised money for so many congressional dems is a much better bet for the care & feeding of a congressional majority, IMHO.

      Yes, it’s politics as usual. But you know why they call it that? BECAUSE IT WORKS. And at this point, with the Republican party shattering around the Donald Drumpf insurgency, what better face to present than a unified Democratic party?


  2. I’m starting to get a little bit excited (like cautious early 2008 Obama-level) excited about Hillary Clinton. I think it’s that picture of her in the sunglasses with her smartphone. And memories of her at the Benghazi hearings. That article reminding us that we thought she was cool, not just competent, when she wasn’t running for office. Hopefully that spirit will be recaptured once the primaries sort themselves out.

    I wish her logo wasn’t so lame and that her child apparel merch was as cool as Obama’s (both our kids LOVE the Obama for Kids shirt we got DC1 back in the day– super colorful with a fun design). She has some better adult stuff, but nothing that I feel like buying just yet.


    • Maybe you can find some “vintage” swag from the ’08 campaign on e-bay?

      Or maybe Kerry Washington, Katie Perry, and Lena Dunham can work with the Clinton campaign to improve her merch? She’s got a lot of celebrities with some cool cred out there.


  3. Absolutely right! Flaky voters, the kind who don’t bother showing up for midterms, prefer Sanders; reliable voters prefer Clinton. Each person has only one vote to cast. Isn’t the trustworthy one better than the one that gets distracted easily?
    And no, it’s not that young voters have prestige. If they did, American policymakers would treat them better. The nation would in jobs, wages, education, combating climate change, affordable housing.
    Mobbing against HRC alone sure stands out. Other politicians including Obama, Trump, and Sanders have their critics and detractors, but these adversaries don’t say “And all the cool people agree with me! They also hate [Obama/Trump/Sanders]! Neener neener!” Presidential primary as sub-middle school.


    • THIS: And no, it’s not that young voters have prestige. If they did, American policymakers would treat them better. And if they showed up more consistently, they’d have the leverage to get better treatment.

      That’s in part why the government has permitted the privatization of student loans and the systematic de-funding of higher education in the states and nationally. That’s why no one is jumping up and down to make work to reduce young people’s unemployment. By comparison, let’s take a loot at what Granny and Grampa have: Social Security, Medicare, and part D-prescription drug plans.


  4. I am an old, white guy who barely managed to survive the Sixties — I was a Ranger in Viet-Nam — and once upon a time thought that there were actually sane, sensible, pragmatic Republicans whose conservatism wobbled around just slightly to the right of center. In other words, many of them were actually quite moderate. Here in the South, it was the knuckleheads in the right wing of the Democratic Party who were truly scary. Of course, over time, those conservative, right-wing Democrats all transitioned to being right-wing, reactionary Republican knuckleheads, scarcely missing a beat in their ideology.

    The “youth vote” is notoriously fickle and to suggest that it is unreliable would be to engage in an understatement of significant proportions.

    Although I spent over four decades in government service (33 in uniform and then more after retirement), I never quite bought into the constant denigration of women in uniform or as political leaders. Some of the best pilots I dealt with just happened to be women, just as many of my best soldiers, both enlisted and officers, just happened to be women. Unlike many of those I know, I was happy to see women complete Ranger School — it made me smile when one was not only in her 30’s, but a mother. That she had to endure being recycled did not make it easier, to the contrary, it made it extraordinarily more difficult — you have to do it all over again and with new people to boot.

    Although a piece of my heart might be with Bernie, being an old 60’s lefty (hey, I was drafted and then hang around for a lot longer than ever imagined), but my head is with Hillary. I have little doubt that the GOP will continue to make her life as president any less pleasant than they have that of Obama, but there is not a single GOP candidate either now or from the original group that I could ever think of voting for; if Rubio supposedly is the closest to what the GOP Establishment stands for, Lord help us!


    • Thanks for your comment here, Corktree Research! But I have to ask: what does it mean to be “recycled,” as you say the Rangers are/were? Is that like a rotation through duty stations/locations?


      • If you fail or do not complete for some reason a phase during Ranger School, there is an option to try again or recycle that phase. So, yes, Ranger School is a series of Phases held at several training locations that focus on different skills/tasks. Most candidates do not choose to recycle or they simply do not look as if they will be able to do so to the cadre, the Ranger Instructors. To recycle a phase is not a pleasant experience, you literally have to do it all over again, and Ranger School is probably the epitome of No Fun. That even Navy SEALS have had to recycle phases might give you an idea as to how challenging Ranger School is and the qualification course for the SEALS is the definition of brutal. In the US military, only the Qualification Course (Q-Course) for Special Forces is in the same bracket as the SEALS course and Ranger School. They are all as mentally exhausting as they are physically exhausting, perhaps more so, if that is possible. Long before they opened Ranger School to women, I had several female soldiers that I absolutely knew could hack it. In Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked in the field with female soldiers were were top-notch troops, fully-capable combat soldiers. There were several female medics that were among the bravest troops I have encountered.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I voted for Hillary for the first time today (I supported Obama in ’08, though of course I would happily have voted for Hillary in the general election if she’d been the nominee). I have to say it felt pretty good. I like the idea of a woman president, and, as I get older, I also like the idea of a visibly older woman visibly wielding power. Older women tend to be invisible in our culture; whatever else (s)he may be, a POTUS is not invisible.

    Like many other “older voters” who voted for Hillary today, I’m ideologically closer to Sanders (among other things, I’m a practicing Christian, and take all that protecting the widow/orphan/stranger/least of these stuff seriously; socialism seems like a pretty good way to accomplish those goals), but doubtful that he’d be able to accomplish much of what he’s promising. I’m glad he’s in the race, because I think he’s raising some important questions (in general, and about Hillary in particular; of course, I think she’s also smart enough to learn from his criticisms, and the support they’re gaining him from various sectors of the electorate). I wish she could somehow be as competent at getting things done as she is, but with fewer establishment/corporate ties, but I’m also enough of a realist to realize that her effectiveness and her willingness to play the game to some extent are probably connected. And I think Hillary has a pretty solid moral compass, though perhaps one that allows for a bit more ambiguity/complexity than Sanders’ (or his supporters’). To my mind, tolerance for ambiguity/complexity is another sign of maturity (which is probably another word for “old and uncool”).


    • HAHAhaha! Yes, “tolerance for ambiguity/complexity” is in fact very old, terribly uncool. But working with it is the only way we can get stuff done.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My head tells me that my heart ought to be with Sanders — a communist friend once told me that she thought I was more radical than she was — but I get a real sense that he’s been more talk than action since the 1960s. Talk about resting on withered laurels. Clinton may not promise the moon and stars, but you can bet your money she has a strategy to implement any idea she presents and will fight fiercely to bring it about.

    Rather like the parable Jesus told of the two sons asked by their father to work a day in the fields. One readily agreed, then blew off the day partying. The other said no, but thought better of it and put in a hard day’s work.

    I have a feeling Clinton has a liberal agenda she’s keeping low-key now to catch the opposition as much by surprise as possible later. Why do I think that? Because of the successful programs she pushed in Arkansas and New York to help lower income women establish businesses to work their way out of poverty. And the gay-friendly policies she quickly enacted in the State Dept. And her many connections with women leaders in particular who are doing the quiet work of actually confronting and trying to overcome national and world problems.

    Like Corktree Research, I too lament the demise of sane Republicans — my first gubernatorial vote was for Bill Milliken, one of the best governors Michigan ever had. But whether Trump or one of the other members of the insane clown posse wins the nomination, I can imagine Clinton doing a far more effective job of kicking his ass from one side of the country to the other — and doing it with a smile.


    • Hey, K–I agree with you. Thanks for your comment.

      Sanders has been a very consistent advocate for his policy positions, but as you note, that doesn’t mean he’s been the most effective advocate. I’ve been wondering if a socialist/former independent member of congress who was a woman would ever be able to run a presidential campaign like Sanders’s campaign this year. I don’t think it could happen, because women who are pioneers in their field have to get there by being the best, the most competent, the most conformist, and the most perfect possible version of whatever field they represent.

      Women outsiders are further marginalized, not rewarded, for being outsiders. That’s a particularly masculine path to success, I think.

      But, whatever: it doesn’t sound like in the end even most Democrats are willing to reward Sanders with an invitation to run for the most insider position of all. It looks like Super Tuesday is Super Donesday for Sanders, even by #mathforgirls standards!


    • I, too, have hopes that Hillary has some pretty serious rearranging of the hierarchies and priorities of the national household in mind, whether or not she’s emphasizing that right now. At the very least, I’m sure she’ll appoint people devoted to those priorities, and support their efforts. She does have a lifelong record of taking care of women and children (and, though older liberal leftie males like Sanders tend not to emphasize this, there’s pretty good data from a variety of cultures/societies that improving the lot of women, especially mothers/grandmothers, improves the lot of everyone in their families. For whatever combination of reasons, that tends to be less true of programs that focus on males — which doesn’t mean that a number of groups of males don’t have real problems, just that focusing on their female relatives may do them as much good, and their female relatives more good, than focusing on them).


  7. I am super excited to vote for Clinton! When you look at her level of national political experience, it’s mind-boggling: 8 years in WH, Senator, Secretary of State. And this whole idea of “get rid of the professional politicians” is fucken lunacy! Does anyone say, “Get rid of the professional dentists”? When you elect a bunch of people with no demonstrated political competence, you get what we have now in Congress. Chaos and dysfunction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, the American people seem to understand the importance of professional training and expertise when it comes to dentistry and medicine (except for OB/GYN svcs & abortion care, natch!). But every 16-20 years, we seem to decide that the presidency is just about entertainment or the world’s greatest reality TV show.

      Remember the 2000 election, when we were told that it was all a game, and that George W. Bush and Al Gore were basically the same corporate, corrupt, politics-as-usual candidate? Remember 1976 and 1980, when a former actor ran for the nomination & then the presidency in 1980, “the great communicator?” At least Ronald Reagan had served as a two-term governor of a major state!


  8. I am old, I vote in all elections and have done since I was allowed, and am voting for Sanders, despite the problems. Sure I will vote for any Democratic candidate against the Republicans but I cannot guess who will play the best against whoever they finally nominate. But I really think it is disingenuous to think of HRC as a liberal, or as a feminist, or as an anti-racist.


    • Srsly? So Clinton is in fact a conservative, an antifeminist, and a racist?

      That’s crazy, Z. I don’t begrudge anyone voting or caucusing for Sanders, but why the need to make Clinton out as History’s Greatest Monster, especially when you say in the end you may have to vote for her anyway?

      You’re going to willingly vote for an antifeminist, racist conservative? I would never do that, and I never have.


  9. Berta Cáceres was murdered last night by the government HRC’s state department actively worked to put in (the Honduran coup). It is just one example of the hawkishness & general support for imperialism … which does not mean HRC is not the most practical candidate to vote for in general election, or will not put in better judges, or hold line against worse insanity, but she is only “progressive” in a very very right wing context.


    • I heard about that–I was very sorry to hear about Caceres’s death.

      But, as for blaming Hillary Clinton for this: it’s the Honduran government who killed her responsible for her murder. You raise an interesting question: are the people elected or appointed to U.S. government positions personally, morally responsible for absolutely everything that happens during their tenure, including not only the policies they implement, but any policy ever implemented by anyone they ever supported for any reason?

      Anyone with experience is going to have stuff like that on their records. Obama authorized drone strikes & supervised two wars. Anyone who has served on the National Security team has blood on their hands, too, so every Sec Def, every National Security advisor, every SoS.

      Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State insisted on advancing women’s interests globally–she tried to get the TALIBAN to accept the new Afghan constitution, with equal rights for women and girls! That was her.


      • Clinton was very closely involved with this coup, though, and that fits with her foreign policy program generally. I am not saying that is unusual for a US Secretary of State but look, she likes Kissinger. All of this is very far from a politics I’d like to vote for. I get your point from earlier post on the longue duree that 1st women presidents are typically conservative. But I really think the choice in this election is going to be between conservative (her) and loony right … there’s not going to be a moderate, really (for despite Sanders’ talk of “political revolution”) he is actually quite mainstream, would have been preety much standard issue liberal democrat back in the day, no?


      • Let me see, Z — Clinton is solely responsible for every policy during her tenure as secretary of state. Not the president she was working for. Well, if you need to absolve the cool, hip guy elected in 2008, that’s a nice position, but it doesn’t say much for Obama’s competence, does it?

        Reminds me of how leftists still blame Hillary Clinton for every policy they disliked in Bill Clinton’s administration. Not that they particularly admire him, but there’s always the undertone that it was really HER fault. Despite the fact that those of us who paid attention in the 1990s are aware that the big pushers of those policies among Bill’s advisors, idiots like Larry Summers, despised Hillary Clinton and her influence. Many, like Rahm Emanuel, turned on her in 2008 to back the less experienced guy.

        Maybe there’s our cool Clinton merchandise — a pic of Hillary saying “Bwah ha ha ha ha! I have the Power!!” Hey, I’d wear it. I’d even send her one. Wonder if she’d wear it?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Here is some of Clinton’s work as secretary of state.
    Very bad in ME as secretary of state as well.
    This is her foreign policy experience.
    And re political similarities with Bill Clinton — where are the serious differences?

    Also, why is disagreement with her politics, and Bill’s, and the whole set of conservative Democrats as well as Repubicans, “blaming” (which is apparently some sort of sin) … why can one not disagree, and what kind of feminism is this guilt tripping?


  11. I mean: the argument seems to be that HRC has had a hard life, and one should be understanding / feel sorry for her / vote for her for this reason. But an HRC vote is a vote for war, and I have the distinct impression the people who want to guilt everyone into voting for Hillary Clinton would not vote for a more pacifist woman, and would be mean to her too.

    About the 20 year olds you are yelling about: they have been told to vote their conscience, remember they just got out of the patriotic education that is given in schools and are also not yet as cynical as you. I am frustrated also with the not voting, though. In more magnanimous moods I understand the factors that lead them to not vote, but I also want to say, why don’t you get it?


    • Z, who is this “you” you accuse of yelling?

      I’ve never said a bad word against Bernie Sanders or his voters, whereas I can’t say they have returned the favor for me or anyone else who refuses to see the light of the candidate they imagine is morally pure. The fact of the matter is that anyone who is elected president will have blood on his or her hands. There is no moral purity in leading the world’s hegemonic power. Those who support Clinton generally believe that experience matters; those who support Sanders think his supposed moral purity is a better bet.

      The Nation has been against Clinton going back to 2007, so I don’t credit anything they have to say about her. I hope they like their President Trump, because that’s going to be our choice this fall.


  12. Pingback: Trust, gender queerness, and Hillary Clinton | Historiann

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