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article imageOp-Ed: Can Hillary Clinton win over millennial voters?

By Jack Derricourt     Sep 20, 2016 in Politics
This November is the first election in which the millennial generation makes up an equal portion of the vote as the baby boomers. Such a shift in demographics has already radically reshaped the face of politics.
The Bernie Sanders primary bid came out of nowhere, and the upsets in places like Michigan showed how much a mobilized young population can change the odds for their preferred politician. Higher taxes and increasing social programs for students and seniors are commonplaces in political discussion now. Young Americans can be proud they helped bring these ideas to the table this year, and many of the issues they spoke up about have found their way into the Democratic Platform — a document that gives all democrats their marching orders for the next generation of voters to endorse.
But Hillary Clinton faces an uphill battle with these newly-empowered young voters. As the Atlantic discusses at length, younger voters deserted her for Obama in 2008; they resoundingly chose Sanders over Clinton in the primaries this year; and now, they could be the ones to either grant or deny her the presidency. And you only need to look at social media to see that Clinton has her work cut out for her:
Make no mistake, millennials are not falling in love with the Republican party either. Republicans have been admitting to the media throughout 2016 that they’ve lost the younger generation: from healthcare, to gay marriage, to immigration, 18-29 year olds are butting heads with the policies House Speaker Paul Ryan and his fellows hold dear.
The prospect of millennial votes going to third parties or not going to anyone at all, especially in swing states where a vote for anyone but Clinton is certainly a vote for Trump, is a scary thing to envision. Anyone who remembers the crestfallen feeling of 2000 when George W. Bush walked away with a sliver of a victory should be terrified.
Clinton pivoted towards millennial outreach this week. Her speech in Philadelphia on Monday argued for her dedication to public service, and how she intends to get to work for young people in the U.S. "There’s no doubt in my mind that young people have more at stake in this election than any other age group,” she said, listing health care, immigration, climate change and education as the key issues she knew were concerning young minds.
She spoke of the apathy around the election, stating it’s "tempting to think that no one will tell you the truth and nothing is ever going to change.” With all the money behind Clinton, and all the hatred coming out of the woodwork behind Trump, it’s easy to see why younger people might feel dead in the water. However, a propensity to work with people of differing opinions is a skill Clinton has developed over the years (she did get hired for one of America’s most important jobs by her former opponent, after all). There’s a reason people like Obama, Biden and Sanders are campaigning for her — on the other side, there sure are a lot of people refusing to campaign for Trump, which says a lot. An emphasis on cooperation and strengthened diversity are core pieces of Clinton’s campaign. As she said on Monday, “The only way we can meet those challenges is if we meet them together.”
Will this declaration work? Clinton has a good idea of why young Americans are angry and disenchanted. As she said on Monday to her younger audience members, “You want something to vote for, not against.” She’s a good listener, as has been expertly pointed out by Ezra Klein for Vox. But listening and doing are two very different things.
There are signs that a Hillary presidency would at least feature progressive elements. She’s working with progressive senators like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as congressmen like civil rights veteran John Lewis, on the Democrats’ side of the aisle; and while she will remain, for the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party (the sort of folks that shut down the government twice rather than work with her husband and Obama over the years), a figure of vile deceit, she has a record of working with Republicans on the projects that matter to her, and to many in the country. Former Republican primary nominee John Kasich said of Clinton, “I know her. I like her. I’ve worked with her.” Kasich has proven himself to be a diplomatic, principled Republican over the course of the last few weeks, lashing out at Trump’s idiotic racism and carnival barker lunacy. And there are more sensible, right-leaning politicians, people that actually listen to their constituents and want to go along to get along, in the Republican party.
John Kasich  the third runner in the Republican White House race  weighed in on Donald Trump's ...
John Kasich, the third runner in the Republican White House race, weighed in on Donald Trump's comment women who have illegal abortions should be punished, saying "of course women shouldn't be punished"
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
If Clinton can work with people like Kasich on the other side of the aisle on the issues that matter, there is the possibility that some of the bold strategies in the Democratic Platform could make their way through the trenches of Washington.
And if she can’t get Congress to see things her way? She’s already stated that she’ll use executive orders to promote immigration reform. With enough public support, I could see her doing the same thing for other issues that are important to Democrats, Independents and others, who mobilize and advocate for important legislation. Such efforts are the kind of thing that the Sanders campaign constantly reminded citizens would be necessary, no matter who won the election. Clinton doesn’t seem like the kind of person to let Republican blustering get in her way — she’s had a bit of practice with that over the years.
However, if she is serious about gaining those young voters, Clinton should double down on her commitment to health care reform or environmental justice. She pays these issues lip service while campaigning, but the Democratic Platform gives her the direction she needs to fight towards. As Digital Journal has reported, the Affordable Care Act is breaking apart as state co-ops drop out of the exchanges. Now more than ever, an evolution towards a public option makes sense to young Americans.
A pin is seen attached to an attendee's tote bag before the start of a campaign event for Democ...
A pin is seen attached to an attendee's tote bag before the start of a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Reno, Nevada on August 25, 2016
Josh Edelson, AFP
In her Philadelphia speech, Clinton name-dropped Sanders in relation to her recently-tweaked education plan — that now includes the free public colleges that Sanders promised. The invocation of the progressive senator is obviously meant to conjure up the vision that so many millennials contributed to over the course of the primary. Sanders has also been visibly stumping for Clinton in recent weeks, without getting too much into the nitty gritty of her policies. He doesn’t need much of an argument: imagine eight years of a Trump presidency; imagine the justices he will appoint; and imagine the country left over after those slanted legal mutations take hold.
It’s been a rough election for people under 30. But politics is not an all-or-nothing game. People like Trump distort the process, and pretend that the hardest fought battles in democracy are won with quick decisions, biting words, and ignorant bluster. But more often than not, democracy favours determination and those who walk the long, hard road of progress. If young Americans think the world is worth fixing, they should vote for the platform they think most resembles their ideals, and then lobby that new government to listen up or risk their disdain. Millennials have proven themselves a force to be reckoned with this year, and they should not forget that new responsibility come November.
To quote Senator Sanders: “Democracy is not a spectator sport.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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