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Sanders fires up U students for Clinton — in a way Clinton can’t

Sanders fires up U students for Clinton in a way the candidate can’t
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of 1,600 at Northrop Auditorium on Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton shouldn’t need to do this, the pundits say. The first woman nominee for president shouldn’t need to dispatch her former rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to rally young voters who ought to be all in for a political groundbreaker.

But Clinton is incapable of scorching the earth with the rhetoric that Sanders summoned up at a rally on her behalf at the University of Minnesota, where he reiterated a progressive agenda that can seem inspirational for a young voter wanting to change the world.

At the U of M’s Northrop Auditorium, he brought the crowd of 1,600 to its feet a dozen times with incantations against “the grotesque level of income inequality,” “climate change deniers,” and “a broken criminal justice system.”

The current federal minimum wage “is a starvation wage,” and “it is insane” for young people to graduate with college debt, he said.

The crowd applauded appreciatively when Sanders reminded them that Hillary Clinton was “only one candidate running for president” that had the solutions to these crises. But they clapped harder and hooted louder when Sanders invoked the name of Donald Trump, “the worst candidate for president in the modern history of the United States.”  

It was an assembly that was, for the most part, fiercely anti-Trump, willingly pro-Clinton, and passionately pro-Sanders, including a few Sanders supporters that will not budge.

“I just can’t vote for her,” said student Matt Pappas from Coon Rapids. “My hang up is the Iraq war. She has a pattern of foreign policy that I don’t agree with. I don’t really think she’s taken the steps to move toward Bernie Sander’s foreign policy. I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton.”

Student Zoe Rutherford of Rochester understands the sentiment. “So many people are trying to pull away from the mainstream candidates,” she said, which is why she, as a Clinton supporter, deemed Sanders’ support important. “I’m really happy that he finally decided to support Hillary Clinton. It’s kind of a lot coming from him.”

With polls showing a close race between Clinton and Trump in Minnesota, the Clinton campaign is taking no chances with this and other blocs of voters she has yet to fire up. Another piece of kindling goes on the flames Thursday as Chelsea Clinton campaigns on her mother’s behalf in Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

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Comments (19)

Not to decide

…is to decide. Inaction is a form of action, especially in a political context. If Matt Pappas is going to base his presidential voting on a single issue, he likely won't ever be casting a ballot for president, no matter how long he lives. Having voted in quite a few presidential cycles now, I can't recall a candidate of either party with whom I agreed on every major issue. Candidates and presidents, like the rest of us, are flawed human beings, not always philosophically or politically consistent, and subject to pressures that those of use who are less ambitious aren't likely to ever encounter. Moreover, and even though I, like many others, think Clinton's vote on Iraq was a huge mistake, it's not difficult to compare her foreign policy views with those of her opponent. She's more hawkish than I would like, and by a substantial margin, but she's a dove of peace compared to the casual suggestions for military intervention so far made by Mr. Trump.

Staying home on election day, or voting for one of the minor party candidates, gives Trump half a vote. I hope Mr. Pappas will reconsider.

I doubt it

The "wasted" vote, refuse to vote, not voting is a vote complaint has become a stale unconvincing argument. The fact is if people in democracies don't vote for candidates they actually believe in they eventually find that they can't vote for such candidates because they're simply not on the ballot. The two parties and the nations elite have saddled us with two extremely unpopular and distrusted candidates, there's nothing irrational about refusing to vote for such candidates. What was irrational was the assumption that parties could put such candidates on the ballot and get the votes anyways.

When it's literally become impossible to put the most popular and trusted candidate with the most effective agenda on the ballot, you know that strategic voting has run its course.

Maybe this is some sort of logic puzzle I'm just not getting,

But I don’t agree. I don’t care for the Clinton platform any more than you do, and I agree with you that the Democratic establishment irresponsibly has elevated the risk of Trump by its deflection of Clinton's platform/electability issues. But I have these options: vote for Trump, vote for Clinton, vote for someone else, don’t vote. If I would rather that someone other than Trump be elected President, I vote for Clinton.

There are arguments for one of the other three choices. For example, I may be convinced that a Clinton Presidency, with its predictable corporatist orientation in realms of economics and foreign policy, combined with the Republican and media behaviors that we know will accompany a Clinton Presidency, will set the stage for an authoritarian in 2020 who is worse than Trump and campaigns more effectively, whereas a Trump Presidency can be controlled and can turn the nation in a more decisively progressive direction for 2020. Or I can conclude (dubiously) that the anti-establishment statement I will make by voting for a third candidate outweighs the harm of a Trump Presidency. But if I'm not motivated by a specific rationale such as these, no matter how harmful I think a Clinton Presidency will be, if I think a Trump Presidency will be more harmful, then I vote for Clinton and work for the next, improved version of Mr. Sanders to stand in the next election.

If a deer runs in front of my car but a group of school children is standing on the shoulder, I hit the deer. Conversely, closing my eyes and taking my hands off the wheel indeed is an "irrational" choice.

What am I missing?

What you're missing...

Yes, it's called strategic voting and I think we're all familiar with the concept, but what your missing Is the fact that everyone else doesn't vote the way you do or share your rationale. When you select poor and deeply flawed candidates assuming everyone will vote the you do... you lose elections. You lose elections and then you blame the voters who didn't vote the way you vote and it just circles back. YOU'RE playing the short term game AFTER the fact in a narrowing field of increasingly bad options. While strategic voting is not irrational it's also not the only exclusively rational way to vote.

In some ways the problem with strategic voting is that it's not really "strategic", it's tactical. If a voter wants to really think strategically and look at the long game they realize that no party wins every election and power changes hands over time. Since this isn't the last election cycle we'll ever have winning THIS election isn't as important as the over-all trend of progress or lack of progress. From that perspective it makes perfect sense to focus on long term policy trends and vote outside the duopoly or not vote at all in a particular election cycle.

From the long term perspective Trump is not nearly as spooky as the fact that our political system is almost completely incapable of recognizing and solving huge but perfectly manageable national crises. We've been sitting on the same manufactured crises for decades while perfectly workable and efficient solutions sit on the shelf no matter who gets elected. Bush and Cheney lied, but the Iraq War was a bipartisan effort. Trump would be a bad president but more importantly the Nation needs competent and responsive governance, when you look at the forest instead of the trees Trump's not actually the problem. When you look at the long game you see that "strategic" voters voting for people they don't want to vote for created and maintained the duopoly that's failed us.

Over Time

The problem with over-reliance on long-term thinking, as Harry Hopkins once put it, is that "People don't eat in the long run, they eat every day." Elections have immediate, and real, consequences that can't be erased with the passage of time.

"Since this isn't the last election cycle we'll ever have winning THIS election isn't as important as the over-all trend of progress or lack of progress." That's the long game. What it ignores is that short-term consequences can do damage that goes far beyond this election cycle, or the next one. As I know you have heard many times, the next President will appoint at least one, more likely two or three, Supreme Court justices. While we are waiting around for competent and responsible governance, those justices are going to be deciding real cases that have real and lasting consequences (historically, the median length of service for a Supreme Court justice is around 16 years. Half of the current members of the Court have surpassed that mark.).

And it's not just the Supreme Court--it's the Department of Defense, the EPA, the NLRB, the EEOC--I can give you a whole bowl of alphabet soup. Who gets his/her finger on the nuclear button? On a less apocalyptic level, do you suppose a President Trump is going to be too concerned about getting adequate funding for the CFPB's enforcement efforts? Sure, that can be undone in 2020, or 2024--maybe, if things go right. What do we say in the meantime? "Sure, you lost everything due to questionable practices in the financial sector, but focus on the long term!"

"[When you look at the forest instead of the trees Trump's not actually the problem." There is no forest without trees. Trump may not be the only problem, but he's A problem, and a big enough problem that stopping him is important.

Voting for Clinton isn't strategic voting,

Or even tactical voting. It's just a choice, as among four choices that I have, pertaining to a very specific present matter: who will be President for the next four years.

I agree completely with you about the long game and the dismal failure of liberals and progressives alike to attend to it. But voting for Clinton now doesn't in any way obstruct any long game strategy (again, UNLESS one has concluded that Trump as President advances the long game, and that this advantage outweighs the short-term damage, an argument that I have thought thru and rejected, but by which another could be persuaded).

In particular, Sanders' candidacy resulted in the strongest push in my lifetime toward escaping the establishment duopoly in favor of a major-party candidate with an actually democratic platform. There is nothing about voting for Clinton now (or supporting her administration as against retrograde forces) that hinders any individual or collective strategy toward bringing forward a candidate in 2020 who can achieve the tipping point that the Sanders candidacy approached.

Hillary will have to win without a big millennial vote

Bernie can try, but I don't think he can help. When he tells these young people this is no time for a protest vote I think he's talking past them, that's 60's and 70's activism that millennials don't seem to be interested in. I don't think they see a vote for someone other than Clinton or Trump as protest vote, they just see it as vote. Calls for strategic voting fall on deaf ears when decades of voting for candidates we don't believe in have given us the two most disliked and distrusted candidates in US history.

When Bernie shows up to campaign for Clinton it's a double edged sword that cuts both ways. On one hand he's advocating for Clinton, but on the other hand he's reminding us why we wanted him on the ballot instead of her in the first place. I think it's pretty clear that millennials want to vote FOR something, not just against something, and Clinton has yet to give them something they want to vote for compared to Sanders. I'm not saying he shouldn't be campaigning for Clinton, but I'm not sure how much good it can do.

Both candidates

In fact, all candidates will have to "win without a big millennial vote." Millennials have a terrible tendency to not vote, regardless of the race. Obama managed to stir them up a little, and I do mean a little. Boomers and Millennials roughly make up the same percentage of the eligible voting population, yet Boomers vote at a rate of about 70%, and Millennials at their peak (2008) just barely touched 50%. To be fair, Xers (like myself) only figured out that they should vote in about 2004. One might expect Millennials to start taking the whole voting thing seriously over time, though. After all, Boomers were at 60% in 1996, when the youngest Boomers were in their early 30's. Based on the levels of Xer participation over time, it seems that that's about the age they figure out that whining doesn't work as well as voting.

For what it's worth, I highly doubt that the Millennial Generation, in their relative youth, are looking to vote FOR something as opposed to AGAINST something. They just don't have enough experience to really get that voting is something more than voicing your opinion on Facebook. The oldest Millennials are only a little younger than myself, while the youngest were able to vote for the first time in 2012. From the perspective of a "young" Generation Xer, while I've been participating in voting since the moment I could, I have only recently felt like an "adult". That is, the future is very far away until you start looking at your 401k as a fancy gambling fund that may or may not pay for your retirement. That's something you don't get until the first few gray hairs start appearing (not that I have any...).

The difference between the Millennials and the Xers is their sheer size--Xers got pretty squashed between the Boomers and the Millennials, so our relative slackerism in our youth wasn't as huge a problem. The difference between the Boomers and the Millennials is about 30 years and the technology in between. Otherwise, they're both groups of people who have a lot of peers that have, by simply being part of a big flock, a lot of influence in the market. But, political influence still requires a vote--the Boomers learned that, and so will the Millennials. I hope. In any case, they likely won't figure that out until they're old enough to grumble at how bad/lazy/ignorant Generation Z is.

Stereotypes and doubts

"For what it's worth, I highly doubt that the Millennial Generation, in their relative youth, are looking to vote FOR something as opposed to AGAINST something."

The problem is your doubts appear to be based on stereotypical thinking about young voters. Look, if you think the young vote is always inconsequential then why send Bernie to places like the U.?

If you actually talk to millennials who don't want to vote for Clinton or at all they tell you they want to vote for something not against something, especially those that voted for Obama.

This is the problem with so many democrats and their party: people try to tell them who and what they want to vote for and democrats think they can ignore those voices and still get the votes. If democrats won every election they may have a point but the fact is they've had some spectacular losses to republican duds. Of course when they win their geniuses but when they lose it's always someone else's fault.

I haven't heard anyone claim that Clinton is losing millennials to Trump, so yes Trump would have to win without those votes as well. The point is those are Clinton's votes to lose.

Stereotypes

No. I'm just assuming that the Millennials will behave as the Xers did and the Boomers before them. If there's any stereotype, it's in assuming that the handful of individuals you talked to represent a large portion of an entire generation that spanned from about 1980 (some say 1977) to the early 2000's. That's a big span. Many Millennials are approaching middle age within a decade, while some of them are just barely getting out of high school right now. They're not a strong political influence at this time, and I highly doubt that they behave much differently than their generational predecessors did at their age. That is, we all want to vote FOR something and not AGAINST something, so even if that's true with Millennials, it doesn't set them apart from any of the rest of us. The only difference is (and I'm going to assume it's temporary), they don't put their votes where their mouth is. They vote in low numbers, so you might gain if you get the Millennial vote right now, but you won't lose if you don't. In 15 years, that's a different story. But then, I think the political landscape will look different--because the Boomers and Xers are shifting the political landscape. It's not a dismissal of whether or not their vote counts, it's an analysis based on the fact that they frequently DON'T vote.

Exactly

"No. I'm just assuming that the Millennials will behave as the Xers did and the Boomers before them."

Exactly... that's a stereotype, you have no basis for that assumption because every generation does not behave the same as the preceding generation. The boomers didn't behave like their parent for instance. Every so often you get a generation that breaks ranks and it looks the millennials may be such a generation. You can doubt it, but don't pretend you know it.

Breaking the mold

There's not a great amount of evidence that Millennials are breaking the mold. And, it turns out, Boomers might be a little less conservative than their parents, but they're not really so different as they age from the Greatest Generation. The differences that do exist, though, can be pretty directly related to their privilege of numbers. There are quite a few parallels between Millennials (which also have the privilege of numbers) and Boomers in that respect. Don't forget that the Boomers were the hippies and war protesters. They have traded in their protests for votes, a trend that was also seen with the Greatest Generation (who protested for suffrage, and whose participation in voting also increased as they aged). The causes for which they stand may have changed, but Millennials are not so different. The mold might have broken with the Boomers, but someone keeps gluing that mold back together. We'll see. Your predictions are no more knowledge than mine.

Soooo....

Each generation is different... but they're really the same?

Yup

Pretty much the same in the most basic ways, with slightly different bells and whistles. Each generation is slightly more tolerant than the last, on average, but grow more conservative as they age, on average. They participate more at the ballot box as they age, too. That holds true for at least the last 3 major generations. Millennials will vote when they're good and ready. Now's not the time, regardless of who might have the ability to motivate them. If they were sufficiently motivated by Sanders, he probably would have been the nominee. But they weren't motivated enough to show up to the polls. Here's an interesting article on generational participation. http://www.npr.org/2016/05/16/478237882/millennials-now-rival-boomers-as...

Pundits

It's an odd thing for pundits to complain that Hillary is sending Bernie out on her behalf. That's something that all candidates do for every major office. A candidate can't be everywhere at once, so they fire people off to be on this talk show or to that town for a rally.

I suppose it's one of those situations where the reporter called to get a comment from the opposition on the subject, they hadn't really thought it through, so they blurted out the first thing that comes to mind.

I wonder what The Donald is doing to fire up the youth vote. Or women. Or Hispanics, the military, African-Americans, and any number of other groups he's managed to alienate this year. I have a feeling he'll need a heck of a lot of surrogates just to fill that hole in, let alone climb out of it.

We Can Suppport Bernie By Defeating Trump

Sen. Sanders clearly understands that defeating Donald Trump is now the paramount issue! I too supported Sen. Sanders at caucus and was disappointed that he did not get the Democratic nomination. Hillary Clinton on her worst days is much more empathetic with everything that Sen. Sanders advocated during his campaign. Mr. Trump on the other, is the anti-Sanders candidate; those of us who supported Bernie need to support him now by voting Clinton.

Most of the Millennials

will still be around 50 years from whereas a good share of article's commenters will not be here. The Supreme Court will be making decisions which will affect the millennials. This is why they need to vote for Hillary....whether they like or hate her......Hillary is not the essence of this election.

Vote for the less objectionable candidate

I'm 76-years-old and I was in college in 1962 during the Kennedy-Nixon contest. In fact, I was at the University of Michigan where I heard JFK propose the Peace Corp. I couldn't vote, because at that time you had to be 21, and I was 20. I have voted in every election since, and only once have I voted for a candidate I truly wanted to win. I voted for Gerald Ford when he ran against Jimmy Carter. I still believe that was a good vote. (However, Carter has been a terrific former president.)

While Ford was the only candidate I really supported, I have still managed to vote in every election since. I vote for the candidate I find least objectionable. That may be sad, but it's true, and this year I'm voting for HIllary Clinton. I'm not crazy about her, but I'm scared of a Trump presidency. Think of what a Trump presidency will mean to this country. I implore millenials who are sitting on their hands to vote for her, too. A Trump presidency could scar this nation for years to come.

It all depends...

Whether or not Clinton gets the millennial vote, no matter how large or small, won't matter unless she needs it to win the election. Until more recently the polls have been uncomfortably close but Clinton finally looks like she's pulling ahead somewhat more decisively. If the race tightens again, she may need all the votes she can get and if she doesn't get them democrats will typically blame the voters rather than the candidate and party who didn't get the votes. If I were Clinton I would plan on winning the election without those votes.