mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Sanders Must Level With His Young Voters”: The Fickleness Of The Youth Vote Has Been The Bane Of Progressive Politics

What happened in the South Carolina primary? Bernie Sanders was asked. “We got decimated, that’s what happened,” he responded.

Here was Sanders at his best. Brutally honest. Averse to spin. Though the independent from Vermont vows to fight on, his lopsided loss in pivotal South Carolina makes his prospects for winning the Democratic nomination increasingly slim.

The question for progressives is: What happens to his passionate followers in the event he leaves the race? Or more to the point: Is there a way to keep his ardent fans ardent about participating in the electoral politics? Will they keep voting when the candidates are less charismatic, when the election’s not in a big-deal presidential year, when the solutions are muddied in the reality of two-party politics?

Sanders’ feat in electrifying younger voters has been extraordinary. And that extends to his success with many young Latinos and African-Americans, whose elders went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

But the fickleness of the youth vote has been the bane of progressive politics. It is why the right wing controls Congress.

In 2008, a political rock star named Barack Obama energized the young electorate with talk of radical transformation. The voters’ idealistic fervor helped sweep him into office and expanded the Democratic majority in Congress.

The economy was in free fall. But in the first two years of his presidency, Obama helped steer America from the precipice of another Great Depression — plus he pushed the passage of the Affordable Care Act, bringing health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. It was hard work, not magic, that accomplished these remarkable things.

Many of his younger voters, led to believe in Technicolor miracles, were unimpressed. The 2010 midterms came around, and they stayed home. Not so the older tea party Republicans, who despised much of what Obama stood for.

Here’s the thing about these right-leaning activists: Sometimes they have a candidate they adore. Sometimes they don’t. But they vote. They vote in presidential years and in non-presidential years, when the public isn’t paying much attention. They vote for the state legislators who usually end up creating districts that favor their party’s candidates.

So as older conservatives marched to the polls, many young liberals did a vanishing act. Having represented 18 percent of the electorate in 2008, voters under the age of 30 accounted for only 11 percent in 2010, their poorest performance in two decades.

Democrats suffered devastating losses, and progressive priorities went into the deep freeze.

It’s true that younger Americans tend to move more often, and that complicates the process of registering to vote and finding the polling place. But still. The youth turnout in the 2014 midterm was even more dismal than in 2010 — actually, the lowest in 40 years.

It is the nature of liberal politics to be cerebral, and with that comes the “critique.” Rather than marvel that near-universal coverage happened at all, prominent voices on the left attacked the reforms as a surrender to business interests. They bashed Obama for not slapping more cuffs on the Wall Street operators.

These complaints were not without merit, but politics is always a work in progress. One keeps plugging away.

Sanders is a no-excuses type of guy. He’s in an especially strong position to do some truth-telling to the young electorate that has rallied to his cause. If they think that the economy is rigged against them, they have to vote out the politicians who have done the rigging. They must play the long game.

One politician’s magnetism isn’t going to do it. Just ask President Obama.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, March 1, 2016

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Midterm Elections, Millennnials | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shake The Complacency”: Twelve Percent Turnout Is An Insult To Your Children

The Rev. Al Sharpton, host of msnbc’s “Politics Nation,” spoke at the Greater Grace Church’s services yesterday, and addressed the crisis surrounding Michael Brown’s death from a variety of angles. Of particular interest, though, was one of Sharpton’s challenges to the community itself.

“Michael Brown is gonna change this town,” he said, before criticizing the paltry voting record on the area. “You all have got to start voting and showing up. 12% turnout is an insult to your children.”

That was not an exaggeration. The historical and institutional trends that created the current dynamic in Ferguson – a largely African-American population led by a largely white local government – are complex, but the fact that black voters haven’t been politically engaged has contributed to the challenges facing the community. In the most recent elections, turnout really was just 12%.

Patricia Bynes, a black woman who is the Democratic committeewoman for the Ferguson area, told the New York Times that last week’s developments may shake the complacency that too often shapes local politics. “I’m hoping that this is what it takes to get the pendulum to swing the other way,” Bynes said.

To that end, Ferguson residents have had an enormous amount of work to do over the last several days – mourn, grieve, protest, and recover, all while struggling through moments of violence – but haven’t forgotten about the importance of civic engagement in general, and voter registration in specific.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a piece over the weekend that included a striking detail (thanks to my colleague Laura Conaway for the heads-up).

Rev. Rodney Francis of the St. Louis Clergy Coalition pointed to voter registration tent at the scene. “That’s where change is gonna happen,” Francis said.

Debra Reed of University City and her daughter, Shiron Hagens, were working at the registration tent. They said they set it up on their own.

“We’re trying to make young people understand that this is how to change things,” Reed said.

Note, some Republican-led states have made voter-registration drives far more difficult in recent years – Florida, for example, has imposed harsh restrictions without cause – but no such hindrances exist in Missouri.

State GOP policymakers have taken steps to restrict voting rights and curtail early voting, but none of this should be seen as an excuse to discourage Ferguson residents from registering and participating. The kind of systemic changes many in the community crave can be achieved through the ballot box.

To repeat Sharpton’s message: “You all have got to start voting and showing up. 12% turnout is an insult to your children.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 18, 2014

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Ferguson Missouri, Voter Registration, Voting Rights | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: