Colussi: National election breathes hope for democrats and young people
Only four in ten Americans currently believe the Democratic Party stands for something; over a quarter of all Democrats say their party primarily stands in opposition to Trump rather than for its own agenda. Last week’s elections appear to show a movement growing behind the Democrats, but in reality, it is solely opposition to President Trump.
Voters still must choose between the lesser of two evils, but Trump’s attacks on people of color, members of the LGTBQ community, Muslims and others make him appear worse than the Democrats to voters. Voters want to send a message to the Trump administration: they are not pleased with his party, his policies or his actions. The best way to do this is to vote for the opposite party.
Millennials are now the largest voting bloc in America; they tend to be more liberal and diverse than baby boomers, the former largest voting bloc. Baby boomers and older voters lean conservative both economically and socially, while millennials and younger voters lean left. In order to win an election, a candidate or party must cater more towards the largest voting bloc to increase turnout of that bloc.
When baby boomers were the largest bloc, the Democrats catered to their views with policies like neoliberalism and capitalism. Now that millennials are the largest voting bloc, the Democratic Party must shift its policies to encompass millennials’ views in order to continue winning elections.
This was clearly shown in Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She couldn’t get the same turnout from millennials as President Obama did, and it cost her. Millennials want to know what their representatives are doing to combat income inequality, climate change and the rising cost of college tuition. She should have looked at the writing on the wall, seen that 51 percent of millennials do not support capitalism, and chosen policy positions that more closely aligned with millennial views. The famous moment between Trevor Hill and Nancy Pelosi at a CNN town hall where she stated, “I have to say, we’re capitalist. That’s just the way it is,” shows that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the beliefs of its largest bloc of potential voters.
In order to win over millennials, the Democratic Party must stop accepting corporate funding. When Democratic representatives are funded with money from the fossil fuel industry, how can we expect them to create legislation to fiercely combat climate change? If the military-industrial complex influences budgets, how can we expect them to allocate money to universal healthcare or college tuition? President Obama, in his 2016 federal budget, laid the foundation for a trillion-dollar overhaul of the nuclear weapons program. The current low estimate is closer to $1.2 trillion. It would only cost $47 billion a year to abolish tuition and fees at public four-year colleges for students coming from households making less that $125,000 a year and make community college tuition-free for students at all income levels.
The reason that 15 Democratic Socialists of America members and DSA-backed candidates won elections last Tuesday is that neither party is discussing the issues that matter to voters the most. In order to win elections — especially at the national level — you must appeal to millennials, and the issues that are the most important to them are issues that neither party is focusing on.
If the Democrats want to win elections post-Trump, they must begin shifting their policies to reflect the views of millennials. Given the political climate we’re in now, however, moving our country even a slight amount to the left is nothing to sneeze at.