Can the Democratic Party Really Risk Losing a Generation?


It has now become clear that the vast majority of younger voters not only support Bernie Sanders for president, but enthusiastically so. Large numbers of young people have been energized by Bernie's message of ending corruption in politics and bringing about real progressive change. At this point, Bernie Sanders has proven himself to be not only competitive in this primary race despite his lack of name recognition, corporate backing, establishment backing, and a lack of a SuperPAC -- he is also polling better against every Republican than Hillary Clinton in pretty much every one-on-one match-up poll.

What do you think would happen if Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee? Sure, some of Sanders' supporters might not be so completely disillusioned by the process that they still might continue to be engaged in the political process. Some might even still come out on Election Day in November and vote for Hillary Clinton out of fear of a Republican Presidency. But many won't!

The fact is young voters are idealistic and hopeful, and they will not take to having those hopes dashed and their ideals completely torn to shreds. Many young voters will not support Hillary Clinton if she were to be the general election nominee. And, if they did, they would certainly not remain engaged in the political process after the election. Can the Democratic Party really risk losing an entire generation of voters by allowing Clinton to become the nominee?

Let me be clear here. At this point, it is very likely that there will be a contested convention in Philadelphia. Superdelegates, despite their alleged commitments, still have not officially voted yet. So to them and to those within the Democratic National Committee, let me ask you again with all seriousness, can the Party really afford to lose an entire generation of engaged, principled, and motivated voters?

The choice in Philadelphia this year is between candidates who get their support from two very different groups of people. One candidate has been able to lock up the support of the Washington establishment, older voters who get their news and information from television and radio, and Wall Street power brokers. The other has gotten support from millions of young people and independent voters who get their news and information through new media and who donate massive amounts of money through small contributions to the candidate that has been able to speak to their concerns.

Now, I don't want to be crass about this, but the reality is that people die. Bill O'Reilly's audience will only be voting Republican for a few more election cycles. Hillary Clinton's supporter base may not be able to vote for her re-election. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders' supporters will probably be around for awhile. They may or may not be Democrats, though. That will largely, I suspect, depend on what happens in Philadelphia this summer.

The old argument of not toeing the party line leading to a Republican presidency isn't going to magically give young people motivation or enthusiasm. At best, it might just get them out of bed on Election Day, but it won't get them knocking on doors, and it won't get them donating a steady stream of $27 to various candidates they feel passionate about supporting. A Clinton nomination might win the DNC the big money from Wall Street, but it risks so much more.

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