That bottom line needs to look more like 2008, not 2000.
I wrote a diary last week about Bernie's big lead in Millenial support
(9,000 Facebook shares? Wow!), but the comments quickly devolved into flame wars, with someone telling me I was making threats (as if the youth vote's fluctuation is somehow malicious) and another even trotting out the classic Bill O'Reilly "You were given too many trophies!" (by who??) line.
Ultimately though, the diary didn't address the reasons for WHY Bernie is so popular among Millenials, so I thought I'd take some time to offer my unique perspective.
ON STUDENT DEBT AND THE BANKS
First is perhaps the most obvious reason: Bernie offers free college. The average college student today graduates with more than $35,000 of debt. In 1993, that figure was less than $10,000. Until the 1970s, many colleges (such as those in the University of California system) offered free tuition. Countries such as Germany offer free college now, even for foreign students. So when we hear Bill O'Reilly telling stories about how he paid for college mowing lawns because bootstraps, we roll our eyes. When Boomers who majored in philosophy and climbed the corporate ladder at a time when America enjoyed full employment and free college tell us we just didn't pick the right major, we tune them out. When we are charged 7% interest rates on these loans -- which are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy and guaranteed by the federal government -- while Wall Street banks borrow at 0%, we get angry. This debt is very real; it not only eats into Millenials' income, but it causes many to delay buying a house and starting a family.
And where is Bernie getting the money for free college? By imposing a 0.1% (Stocks) and 0.01% (Derivatives) Wall Street financial transactions tax. This is the same Wall Street whose greed and recklessness crashed the economy in 2008, when many Millenials were entering the workforce. I myself graduated from law school in 2009 into a dumpster fire of an economy, with thousands of lawyers getting laid off in Chicago. I was one of the lucky ones to get a job offer, but many of my classmates had to take jobs waiting tables, and some didn't find a job at all. I don't even want to think about what their debt looks like. Many I'm sure are well into the six figures.
So when Bernie invited eight of these college graduates with a collective debt of $1 million to sit at his table at the 2015 Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame Dinner, that was a big gesture to me, albeit symbolic. And when Hillary sent out a tweet asking Millenials to tell her how their debt makes them feel in three Emojis or less, it was insulting.
Such tone deafness also brings Hillary's long list of Wall Street friends and donors under added scrutiny and feeds into the narrative that she doesn't understand Millenials. Bill Clinton repealed Glass Steagall and failed to regulate other aspects of the financial market while raking in Wall Street cash, all which made the crash possible and worsened its effects, mistakes she refuses to renounce. She earned millions -- $3.15 million in 2013 alone -- giving speeches on Wall Street. Wall Street and the law firms that represent them (eg DLA Piper) have been major donors to Hillary throughout her career. Even if she were to propose excellent policies and agree to reinstate Glass Steagall, why should we trust her to prioritize and follow through with those initiatives against her friends if we send her to the White House?
ON FOREIGN POLICY
Many of us older Millenials have friends who were sent to Iraq, not all of whom came back in one piece, and for what? We all know Hillary voted for it, and Bernie against it. But Hillary has also called for more intervention in Syria, criticized Obama's cautious foreign policy of "don't do stupid stuff" as "not an organizing principle" and even joined Republican candidates in calling for a no fly zone in Syria, air space already occupied by Russian planes. Hillary said at the debate that one of her proudest enemies is Iran. She pushed Obama into the disastrous Libyan intervention and in 2008 joined Republicans in calling Obama "irresponsible and frankly naive" for wanting to negotiate with Iranians without preconditions. When she sabre rattles, and pushes for intervention, risking and potentially resulting in escalation and war, which generation is she going to turn to to do the actual fighting and dying?
ON CLIMATE CHANGE
By the same token, which generation is going to live with the long term consequences of climate change? While Hillary came out against the dirty tar sands Keystone XL Pipeline, it did take her until this September 22nd to do so, and it was Bernie who correctly said at the debate that America's biggest national security threat is climate change.
ON THE MINIMUM WAGE
The average age of a minimum wage worker is 35, meaning half of the minimum wage workers are Millenials. Bernie supports a $15 minimum wage; Hillary doesn't. Bernie proposes an overnight raise for millions of Millenials.
Bernie proposes a $1 trillion program rebuilding our infrastructure, creating millions of construction jobs for unemployed Millenials. Where's Hillary's jobs program? And while she finally came out against TPP (which she once called the "gold standard" of trade deals), she refuses to admit NAFTA -- which she and Bill championed -- was a mistake (instead saying "”I believe in the general principles [NAFTA] represented, but what we have learned is that we have to drive a tougher bargain.“ Where is the clarity? The DLC-Clinton trade policies have cost this nation millions of jobs, further squeezing Millenials whose parents and grandparents could once upon a time get a factory job with a high school degree.
Do you stand with the creditors or the debtors? In 2004, Senator Clinton voted to reform the bankruptcy code to make it harder for consumers to discharge credit card debt in the face of protest by Elizabeth Warren while Bernie, of course, voted against it. The average age of bankruptcy filers is 38, so it skews fairly young and matters more to the debt saddled Millenials than older generations.
ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
We are the first generation to see police abuse of power in our living rooms thanks to the ubiquitousness of cell phone cameras, and it's horrifying. Bernie was the first candidate to speak out on Sandra Bland and kept his promise to her mom to say her name at the debate. To be fair to Hillary, she wasn't given the same question. And Bernie proposes a robust criminal justice reform package.
ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY
I think I speak for most Millenials when I say, what a fucking stupid issue. Equal rights should be a no brainer; Bernie has supported it for 40 years while Hillary has since 2013.
All of this adds up to a far higher favorability rating among Millenials for Bernie, and him more than doubling up Hillary in the horserace, while she more than doubled him up among seniors.
The Millenial vote is a big deal. It was key in Obama's election and re-election to the presidency, and no, it is not flat. In recent cycles it can vary from 35% to 50%, so it's up to the candidates to draw them out to the polls.
Democrats have a decision to make. Will they give the seniors who turn out at the polls anyway their choice? If so, what if anything is Hillary going to do to excite the Millenials and turn them out next November? Saturday Night Live appearances aren't going to cut it.