Bernie’s young supporters are the future of Democratic politics – ignore them at your peril

A Postdoctoral Fellow at Pitt writes after the anti-Trump march

It was an invigorating, inspiring experience to see so many people coming together to protest against Donald Trump. They were a diverse bunch – dyed in the wool anarchists, feminists, and centrist pluralists; black, white; topless, clothed, you name it. But they did have something in common – the vast majority (95 percent plus, I’d say) of the several thousand protesters were under thirty.

Whatever apathy is routinely ascribed to millennials and (to a lesser extent) Gen Y, it’s not entirely merited. They were on the front lines debating with those who subscribe to a layered citizenship in which whiteness conveys greater benefits than other heritages, and showing a largely shellshocked Trump crowd that their beliefs were fiercely contested within society. Others were not. Credit where credit is due.

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Nor are young people simply opposing things with easy slogans; they have overwhelmingly gathered behind Bernie’s standard this year. They preferred him to Hillary 84-14 in Iowa; that’s not a typo. Here’s a video from a *side street* next to Sanders’ rally in Washington Square Park, NYC this week.

And yet the older generation continue to shut younger voters out, denigrating their causes as pie in the sky. It’s amazing that they continue to make their voices heard, with all the institutional and media forces acting against them. Again, credit where credit is due.

Since Obama became President, Democrats have lost 13 net Senate seats, 69 House seats, 11 governorships, a whopping 913 state legislature seats and 30 state legislature chambers. No typos there either. In most of those categories, these are the biggest losses by a two-term President in history.

12974354_979572718451_2331421359749212337_nThe Party needs young voters to win down-ticket races now, and to win all manner of races in the future. It’s true that Sanders won’t be able to get his ideas in an unfettered form through Congress. But it’s also true that Clinton won’t be able to implement her much less ambitious agenda on the national level if the Democrats are totally uncompetitive at the state and local levels, where a lot of the real governing in America is actually happening.

Mortgaging the party’s future to elect a candidate that the voters of tomorrow don’t want is dumb politics.

Jamie Miller is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh

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