Questions for Bernie Supporters (from Boomers)
Answering a political questionnaire I found on Facebook…
Is incremental, slow, change no longer acceptable?
Depends. I would argue a lot of massive social changes in American history were not in fact particularly incremental. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t. The Voting Rights Act wasn’t. More recently, even Obamacare wasn’t — it was passed with a Congressional supermajority during a brief window where the Dems controlled Congress.
I’m sympathetic to the idea that sometimes incremental change is the only kind worth pushing. But let’s be realistic — the GOP is willing to light the nation on fire to take it down with their festering dumpster fire of a political party. What kind of incremental change do you propose we push with them? Do we treat transgender people as half-people? Do we say that women and minorities are basically worth less than white male Americans?
What would incremental change have looked like in the 60s? Laws where Black people can sort of vote but not really? Black voters get 3/5 of a vote? Really. Incremental change can work, but at what point are the problems too dire for that? Will people strike for a 5% raise? A single sick day? Maybe sometimes the radical approach is the most feasible.
Is working from within the rigged system not worth the effort to re-rig it?
Depends. Again, I’m sympathetic to the idea of working from within — the American two-party system basically enshrines it into law.
But fundamentally I’m skeptical of how far we can work from within the Democratic Party for the simple reason that the Party basically represents minorities and poor/working-class people only as far as cultural signalling goes. We’ll be pro-gay marriage and maybe pro-weed too, okay. But when faced with genuinely lefty solutions to economic problems , shit gets shut down pretty fast. When Seattle was trying to push for a $15 min wage I saw an endless number of liberal thinkpieces about how it was too much too fast and how Seattle would soon sink into the Pacific Ocean under the bloated weight of big government. Now that Sanders is effectively out of the race, I’ve started to see liberal think-tanks explain why all of his proposals are wishful thinking, without ever addressing the question of wait how come Europe gets to have this stuff?
Are you feeling disenchanted and is this disenchantment driven by the massive inequality of economic neoliberalism and the pro-war, neocon-driven, foreign policy?
I don’t think most millennials have a clue what neoliberalism is, let’s be honest. Hell I don’t think most political pundits know what neoliberalism is.
What we are aware of is that our economic situation as a group is pretty precarious. Even if unemployment has rebounded, we’re still watching as regular employment transitions permanently to contractors and a “gig economy.” Then we get to read about a “skills gap” when the real problem is that it takes time and money to learn new skills and employers don’t want to pay for it and by the time you finish there might not be enough demand for your new skillset anyway. Millennials are supposed to just adopt all the risk — and college is more expensive than ever, how did that happen? — and then we get to read New York Times columnists go on about how Millennials don’t want wages, we actually want beanbag chairs and ping-pong tables at work. Well.
As for foreign policy… look, I get that Clinton was SoS but really I’m sick of having American troops always bombing a half-dozen countries in the Middle East. It’s expensive as hell and most damningly doesn’t seem to actually advance America’s interests beyond the financial goals of military contracters. Obama ran as an anti-Iraq War candidate, and then the second he got into office the anti-war left just shut the hell up for eight years now. What gives? What party do I vote for to stop bombing people?
Look, I get that the main enemy is the GOP. But the Democratic Party has basically stood by and watched unions get dissolved in battery acid for 30+ years, to the point where the only unions that remain are basically the police and public-sector workers. Meanwhile, in poultry factories workers wear diapers because they can’t get the right to a bathroom break.
So, the real problem with the Democratic Party for younger voters is… you’re with us on social issues, but you’re content to watch us just flail around economically. The Boomers benefited from increases in real wages, housing, and even stock appreciation. My generation… doesn’t have those advantages. But the Democratic Party seems to think as long as they call Donald Trump a clown that they’ve got my vote.
Would this disenchantment drive you to vote for Trump if Bernie is not the Democratic nominee?
Jesus, no. Seriously. Trump will sell you, me and his entire fucking base out in a New York minute. This isn’t about Trump. Really.
Will you continue the #PoliticalRevolution even if Sanders is not nominated?
Look, I think it’s necessary. I’d like to, and I will try to. But Millennials could use some damn help from liberals with houses, retirement accounts and enough cash in the bank to raise kids AND take vacations.
Seriously, even if you don’t buy the reality that neoliberalism is slowly eating the US economy, for God’s sake the entirety of Planet Earth is dying. We’re cooking the Arctic, inadvertently exterminating billions of species before we even discover them, and our political leaders are still debating whether or not to excavate the entirety of Canada and Alaska for the sake of shit-quality oil which seems to cause earthquakes whenever we dig too much of it.
We have the biggest technological revolution of all time unfolding before our eyes, and so far it seems like we’re mostly using it to get rid of taxi companies and have cheaper hotel stays by renting out peoples’ homes.
Boomer liberals are concerned, maybe, but really the reason Millennials are skeptical is because this doesn’t affect you. You’ve got money, Medicare and SS will be funded for your lifetime and beyond, and the decision to have kids didn’t bankrupt you.
It’s kind of like watching people talk about Suffering in Africa. Sure, it’s terrible, but it’s far away and happening to Those People so really what can you do?
Look, we’re trying here. But we sure could use a hand.