If 18-to 29-year-olds vote for third-party candidates in sufficient numbers to tip the election to Trump, it will be the consequence of a liberal failure to build an oral tradition around the Bush administration, from Ralph Nader’s vote haul in Florida through the injustice of the recount and the ensuing plutocratic fiscal policy; the 9/11 intelligence failure; the war of choice in Iraq sold with false intelligence and launched without an occupation plan; the malpractice that killed hundreds in New Orleans; the scandalousness that makes the fainting couch routine over Clinton’s emails seem Oscar-worthy; and finally to the laissez-faire regulatory regime and ensuing financial crisis that continues to shape the economic lives of young voters to this day....Maybe that's a significant part of the problem: Unlike Republicans, who've demonized Jimmy Carter relentlessly since his time in office, we don't have a well-oiled noise machine cranking out nonstop denunciations of Bush.
Here it’s useful to contrast the way Republicans scapegoated Jimmy Carter (who was not a great president, but more unlucky than genuinely incompetent or malevolent) to the way Democrats have treated Bush (among the worst presidents of all time)....
As Steve Kornacki wrote several years ago in Salon, the 1984 Republican convention “featured a parade of speakers attesting to the general awfulness of [Ronald] Reagan’s predecessor.” Democrats adopted a similar model for Obama’s reelection convention in 2012, but at least relative to the abject horror of the eight Bush years, they undersold it, and have continued to undersell it.
But would it matter to millennials? The Clinton years had financial deregulation, as well as welfare "reform" and talk about "superpredators." Later, as a senator, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the Iraq War. As a private citizen, Clinton delivered speeches to big banks, and now she's doing campaign outreach to Republicans, while touting GOP endorsements. And she's associated with the Obama administration's continuance of Middle East wars and drone strikes.
None of this puts her in Bush's league -- and as awful as he was, Trump would be far worse, as would any of the Republicans who ran against him in the primaries, because the GOP has become more appalling in the post-Bush era (more pro-plutocrat, more anti-immigrant, more anti-Muslim). But I suspect that if you asked many millennials what they imagine a Clinton presidency would be like, they'd describe a clone of the Bush presidency -- just as militarist, just as racist, just as pro-fat-cat.
Maybe it's time to stop lecturing millennials on this subject and start listening to them. I'd like to see some focus groups conducted, with relatively open-ended lines of inquiry. Describe what you think Hillary Clinton would do in office. Describe a Trump presidency.
Clinton's policy positions are very progressive. However much she might compromise on them, she starts out very, very far from the Republican Party. She's not going to sign into law a Paul Ryan budget that gives 99% of its tax breaks to the 1%. She's not going to reinstate torture, as Donald Trump eagerly promises to do (and sorry, but I don't believe for a minute that either a GOP Congress or rank-and-file servicemembers will prevent him from doing that). She's not going to appoint Scalias to the Supreme Court. She's not going to slam the door on Muslims and Mexicans. She's not going to engage in an orgy of deregulation. She's not going to pursue an energy policy that pretends climate change doesn't exist.
Millennials may vaguely grasp this, but what do they think she will do? Cn we hear more from them? And shouldn't Clinton take what they say and address it directly?