Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Frankly My Dear, I Can't Even

Salon's Tim Donovan argues that Millennials really have no reason to vote for either party, and should just stay home and write posts in Salon about how Millennials aren't voting.

For those of us who follow “millennial issues,” this generation’s low turnout hardly came as a surprise. Last April, the Harvard Institute of Politics found something surprising while talking with young voters: considerably more young Republicans expected to vote than Democrats. Armed with this troubling data, Democratic candidates had months to adapt their messaging and court our votes. What happened? Universally, Democratic candidates didn’t bother to address the (very real, very serious) problems that are on the minds of many millennials: the racist and costly drug war, ballooning student loan debt, long-term unemployment, flat wages at shitty retail and restaurant jobs, and an imperiled climate. Democratic strategists seemed to assume that running as the Not-Republican Party would carry them to victory among young voters. Perhaps they were just too comfortable, believing that, since millennials would never vote for Republicans, those votes were secure. The election firmly behind us, we all know how well that turned out. 
If Democratic strategists thought they could simply ignore the needs of millennial voters because we find Republican politicians to be noxious, hopefully this election taught them a lesson they won’t soon forget. People who need jobs, a pay raise, or just some debt relief are unlikely to put partisan loyalty over more immediate needs. Personally, I’d vote for Rand Paul for president faster than you can say “libertarian wacko” if I thought he would actually end the drug war, slash corporate welfare and plow the savings into student loan debt relief or a robust infrastructure bill. If someone like myself — a pajama-festooned, latte-sipping, liberal hipster who writes for Salon, fer chrissake – is willing to ignore party preference in favor of actual legislative gains, I can only assume that less ideologically committed millennials are even more willing to vote Republican for the right candidate or platform. 
Democrats are far too committed to being a centrist, business-friendly party that eschews economic populism at every turn. Hating your opponent might be a motivating impulse for some voters, but there’s already a party that believes in nothing beyond the destruction of its ideological enemies. Where’s the party for the rest of us, a generation who’ve come of age under the heavy thumb of neoliberal maximalism? Where’s the party that promises to fight back with unapologetically progressive politics? My suspicion is that the growing segment of disengaged millennials are looking for left-leaning candidates willing to shed the yolk of Clinton-era conformity and compromise — and they’re not finding it. (Help us, Elizabeth Warren, you’re our only hope!) Indeed, a simple examination of the exit polling seems to confirm this interpretation. Democrats lost millennials this cycle (as they did in 2012 compared with ’08), but it’s not like the Republican Party made any comparable gains among young voters that would suggest we’re moving rightward. Young people may be abandoning the Democrats, but it’s not because they’re rushing to endorse the public policy platform of Reince Priebus. (Thankfully.)

 You know what this says to me?

This says "I shouldn't have to vote for a party that isn't 100% on the issues I want, so I'll sit at home instead.  And I don't really give a damn if the Republicans win as a result."

And it's painfully clear that is exactly where Millennials and young Gen X voters like myself under 40 are.  Why should our generation have to eat the crap samdwich, when our grandfathers only had to survive the Civil Rights era and our fathers had to make it through Reaganomics?

The people that actually vote want to put out generation in indentured servitude in more ways than one, but why should we care, right?

Jesus wept.  If you consider voting for Rand Paul, you're not a goddamn progressive, you're an asshole.

New Tag:  Millennial Stupidity.


Davis X. Machina said...

Unless you've got high serum cholesterol, there's no need to shed the yolk of Clinton-era conformity.

Enzymer said...

You might be surprised by the Nebraska Supreme Court. They've frequently shot down laws that the right wing pushed. No guaranties, but if they see a conflict with the state constitution, they aren't remotely shy about overturning laws

chuck said...

Well, politicians COULD address those issues. No one deserves blind support, and voting for the lesser of two evils isn't gonna cut it. Let's hope someone learned something from this election cycle.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

How about voting for the good guys, the ones who represent our interests, rather than voting for evil by sitting out the election. Enjoy the two years - if not more - of Republican misgovernment that you lot just enabled.

We Democrats certainly learned something from this election: chuck and his buddies are not reliable, so we had better go look for votes elsewhere. If they don't like where we find them, then tough balloons: they are the ones who pulled themselves out of the coalition.

RepubAnon said...

There's lots of things one can do to influence events. Sitting out elections isn't one of them.

What politicians learned this last cycle:

* Democrats learned that there's no point in advocating for any of the policy changes favored by Millennials, as they won't bother to vote.

*Republicans learned that they can win elections by encouraging Millennials to stay home and not vote.

Anyone who stayed home this last election voted for the Republican candidate.

If you want to influence politicians, you need at least one of two things: lots of money for TV advertising, or a strong block of loyal voters with which to start threatening primary challenges. All staying at home generates in politicians is a suspicion that it is a losing strategy to try and court your vote - because you probably won't show up and vote when you're needed anyway.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

You laid it out more precisely than I am able. What we need, if we are to move the country to the Social Democracy that we all want and deserve, is a solid bloc of left voters who reliably deliver elections and which is big enough and visible enough to be seen as delivering elections. Some people affect to believe that an army of disaffected leftists can be found in the background of American society, waiting to rise up and take over the country once the correct slogans have been chanted. If this army in fact exists, would it not be quicker and easier to take over the party from within? This route would have the inestimable benefit of avoiding the years (or maybe even decades) of Republican dominance that would follow the crushing of the Democratic Party as advocated by the "not a dime's worth of difference" crowd.

So, in conclusion, as always, while the Democrats reliably shift right after losing an election they just as reliably shift left after winning an election. The obvious lesson is to turn out the left voters and shift the Party as far left as we can manage.

Jado said...

So how do progressive millenials make their voices heard?

If they vote for Dems because they HAVE to vote, they are going to get centrist corporate-oriented same-ol same-ol, and EVERYONE will say that the American people have spoken , and what America wants is more centrist corporate oriented same-ol same-ol.

If they stay home, Republicans win and Dems rant and rave that they are acting against their own interest. Well, it's a lose-lose situation.

Maybe if things get WORSE under Republicans (which they will, no doubt about it), the DNC MIGHT just put forth some left-leaning candidates. Because they idea of a slow gentle compromise-laden drift to the left over 20 years isn't going to help a recent grad with her student loans when she is stuck working for Barnes & Noble for $10/hr.

You want millenials to vote? Give them something to vote for. And rant as much as you want that they aren't helping, but you aren't helping them either.

chuck said...

You made my point. If I don't believe that the "good guys" are that, just the less evil alternative, there is no point. Millenials learned from the past 6 years, that the democratic coalition wasn't reliable.

chuck said...


Horace Boothroyd III said...

You simply do not understand how democracy works. If you sit around waiting for someone to hand you something in the hopes that you might like it, you will wait fruitlessly until you die old and embittered.

This idea that "Maybe if things get WORSE..." is very old. It goes by the name of "Heighten the Contractions," you can read about it in Tolstoy, and it never works. Never. In a hundred fifty years of disaffected radicals throwing power to their enemies in order to destroy the hated party of the center and hasten the day of their own victory there has never been a success - unless you consider Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge exploitation of USAF carpet bombing to be a model worth emulating.

The idea that the DNC is going to reward you for sabotaging elections is, in a word, stupid. I am not saying that to be offensive, I am saying that because it really is stupid. If a bully smacks you around and steals your lunch money, will you then hand him the keys to your car? Of course not!

So to answer your real question, what can millenials do, the answer is what it has always been: get everyone you know to turn out and vote. Get together with like minded groups of millenials and make yourselves seen as voting in large numbers for the most leftist candidate on the ballot - especially powerful in the primaries, but you have to follow through and be seen as voting for the party candidate in the generals. Making yourself seen is very important: yell, carry signs, and write letters to the local Democratic committee listing all the people you have delivered to the polls. Join your local Democratic committee - 97% of all counties are desperate for volunteers, and once you are on board then you have a voice in making the decisions. Run one of your own as dog catcher, and in the fullness of time he will work his way up the system to state legislator and may auditor or registrar of deeds or Governor and maybe Congressman or Senator. If we start today, in thirty years we can take over the country.

You can sneer if you like at "a slow gentle compromise-laden drift to the left over 20 years" but a series of banzai charges would do precisely nothing to help a recent graduate while bleeding us of any strength we do have.

And just so we are on the same page, our quarrel is over methods not goals. I want what I have wanted for forty years, nationalization of the financial services sector and a twenty dollar an hour minimum with free university and livable stipends for all students (among lots of other good and sensible stuff). If I have sounded harsh about, it's out frustration and not contempt for millenials as a group. You are, after all, our future.

Jado said...

I don't disagree with you, especially because I am not a millenial and am a passionate voter. But I can understand the millenial mindset. I am of the opinion that the only option that might work is the slow methodical creep to the left. But that calls for a level of dedication and caution that I think makes little sense to the millenials - they can SEE what needs to be done, they are sure that EVERYONE can see what needs to be done, and they are also sure that these things are INTENTIONALLY not being done. By anyone. For profit. At their expense.

I understand that it can't work, but I doubt they understand that. And even though I know the path out is long and slow, I can't blame them for their resentment, even if it is self-defeating.

We older generations should have done a better job prior to now, but we are consistently stupid, fearful, angry, and gullible. It's gonna be a long hard slog out of this, if we CAN get out of this, and convincing the millenials to participate is gonna be a big part of it.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

I understand you better now, and I apologise for making unwarranted assumptions.

So how do we reach the disaffected younger voters? The one thing I am sure about is that it will not involve teevee spots featuring hipsters in funny glasses. If there is one thing I can not stand it is patronization, and our younger voters are no different.

Jado said...

Unfortunately, I think that the only thing that has a chance of reaching them is results. So now we have a catch-22 - in order to affect the changes that will entice them to vote, we have to make the changes we need them to vote in. We have to elect liberal hippies as quickly as possible in order to grind the average government to the left. And if we can point to results, maybe we can get a ground swell happening. And maybe we can go back to the good ol days of general prosperity and higher education.

We award 57,000 PhDs per year, but only a small percentage of those go into research. How are we supposed to colonize the stars when people can barely afford a Bachelors degree? And if that's too lofty for you, how about we feed everyone on the planet to the point where they might be able to think about something else other than where the next meal is coming from? Or maybe stop the constant wars? How much human potential gets wasted every year from neglect and oppression? Some kid in Bahrain probably had the cure for cancer, but starved to death in an alley.

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