Thursday, September 29, 2016

Millennial "Statement" Votes & Ghosts of 3rd Party Candidates Past

How important is the Millennial vote in 2016?
Earlier this morning Edward Issac Dovere, senior White House reporter for, stopped by The Brian Lehrer Show to lend some insight into why a surprising number of American Millennials seem to be turning a cold political shoulder to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Anyone who paid even casual attention to the 2016 Democratic primary race knows Clinton struggled to energize and draw what's frequently described as the "youth" demographic in the same way that her opponent Bernie Sanders was able to ignite genuine passion amongst younger voters.

As the chart above illustrates, Millennials made up about 17% of the voting population in 2008 when President Obama was elected; next month they will make up about 30% of the voting population.

But their impact will depend on how many decide to show up and vote.

A few Millennials phoned in to the show this morning, and I was genuinely flabbergasted by the degree to which they were willing, even passionate, about placing what seemed (to me) to be somewhat abstract political ideals above the practical reality of what electing Donald Trump will mean for many Americans in the event he's actually wins the election in November.

Jill Stein & Gary "AleppoMoment" Johnson
In short, a remarkable number of Millennials are prepared to cast votes for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein; neither of whom have a snowball's chance in Hell of winning but who clearly echo the more left-leaning progressive platform that Sanders campaigned so successfully on.

Like other frustrated voters in other age groups, some Millennials plan to sit this election out to, in part, "make a statement" about the current state of American politics.

Now I'm not really sure what kind of actual statement that would make, but it's a decision which can only help Trump and hurt Clinton.

Even Ralph Nader, whose own third party presidential run in 2000 helped George W. Bush eek out a narrow victory over Al Gore, has said neither Stein or Johnson has a chance.

Perhaps the disenchanted Millennials I heard this morning are too young to really recall what the "statement" of voting for Nader meant in comparison to the thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed during the 2nd Iraq War - by the time U.S. Marines spearheaded the Second Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004 alongside Iraqi and British troops in what would be the bloodiest battle of the war, Ralph Nader's name was all but forgotten in the press.

From my perspective, it almost seemed as if a couple off the Millennials I heard today were still locked into the Democratic primary mindset of a few months ago when voters were still engaged in a intra-party war of ideals and direction for the party - a war that Bernie Sanders ultimately lost.

Clinton & Sanders in New Hampshire Wednesday
But Clinton's victory for the Democratic nomination was clouded by the troubling revelations that then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was among many influential party insiders who were actively campaigning for super-delegates to commit to Clinton well before the primary elections had even taken place.

With Trump polling strongly in critical swing states like North Carolina and Ohio,  this week Clinton is actively attempting to bridge that lingering youth-gap; folks who are skeptical of her.

After campaigning in North Carolina on Tuesday, on Wednesday she appeared in New Hampshire with Bernie Sanders in an effort to rally those elusive younger voters by touting the idea of debt-free college and free tuition for in-state public colleges for families making up to $125,000 a year - part of her broader education platform.

And sadly, college debt is a language Millennials understand all too well so it may help Clinton communicate with them.

Today she sought to promote her own foreign policy experience by going after independent candidate Gary Johnson while speaking with reporters aboard her plane in Chicago, mocking the former New Mexico governor after he committed yet another embarrassing campaign trail gaffe last night on MSNBC when he was unable to name a single world leader that he admired.

Millennials considering casting a Third Party vote to express their disenchantment with the political process would do well to remember that earlier this month on MSNBC Gary Johnson asked the question "What is Aleppo?" and spawned the internet meme #AleppoMoment when he couldn't name a single foreign leader last night and admitted that he was having "an Aleppo Moment."

We're just over a month before the nation elects the next president, and we all have the right to vote for whoever we want to, but I guess there are a few Millennials out there who are going to have to figure out if a relatively pointless Third Party "statement vote" is worth the risk of a man like Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office for the next four years.

A genuinely horrific proposition that would truly redefine the concept of political disenchantment.

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