The ‘Bernie Effect’
“JUNE 25, 2015 — Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white). “ from census.gov: “A More Diverse Nation.”
The “Bernie Effect” has been blowing up voter registration rolls nationwide, especially in big states whose primaries are yet to come like California and New York. Whether those millennials are getting a chance to vote or not apparently depends on how corrupt or biased your state’s voting process is. It also seems to depend on the color of your skin and your regional location. But in those states like WA where the voting process is less corrupt and more open than say Arizona, we are literally witnessing massive caucus turnout, voter registration and public involvement. You know what? It turns out if you abuse an entire generation of youth by sending them off to repeated unending war, tank their economic hopes, burden them with asinine amount of student debt, and mass incarcerate their friends and family… it turns out those youth will end up really, really pissed off! Who knew?
Are You a Berniecrat?
Berniecrats.net is the semi-official list of public officials supporting Bernie for President and it is and important list because here and across the nation Claire McCaskill type aging Democrats are flailing in the fog of the last political war, battling on with imperatives rapidly becoming obsolete among their party’s membership. The Clinton based DNC thought their middle-aged, mandarin class was going to slide right into presidential power. Because after all, aren’t they the ones that know how to get things done? How to survive? How to win? Who knew that an abused millennial class, pissed off GenXrs (Is there any other mode for us?), disgusted and long disillusioned boomers would hold their candidate responsible for the war machine, the advance of the military-industrial surveillance state, mass incarceration, asinine tuition rates, abysmal poverty and social neglect? Who knew?
Party and Statehouse Implications
We Berners, we may be pissed off, impatient and just a bit jumpy. But any day now we are going to figure out that most of local Democratic party infrastructure across the nation (especially in small counties) are manned by a withering bunch of older boomers complete with weakly populated and supported memberships. Any day now, Berners are going to figure out that they have the numbers right now to take over the entire lot of local DNC shells: lock, stock and barrel. All we have to do is:
- register with state and local parties
- attend all the damn meetings
- run for ‘PCO’ (Precinct Committee Officer) positions (coming up soon : third week of May in WA)
- appoint our fellow Berners to positions of power in local Democratic party
- start our campaigns for Statehouse and Congress! (also coming up soon : third week of May in WA)
The real irony? If Berners did this now…they would win! Now, we have the numbers to make previous Democrat losses turn blue! Not DINO blue, not McCaskill blue, not Clinton blue, but BERNIE BLUE. Much of the problems in electing Bernie have to do with the now exceptional statehouse control by Republicans. The statehouses are the legislative body which determine redistricting, voting process, use of voting technology, voter ID procedures in your state. Many of you nationwide are finding out this election just how important the technical aspect of the voting process is. Control the statehouses in your state and you can help control those processes.
Reputedly, this year you must register with your local WA state party before May 1st to be able to vote in WA Democratic party candidate endorsement process in June. In Whatcom County, you can register with the Whatcom Democrats for a small donation to “Act Blue” here: https://secure.actblue.com/page/whatcomdemsmembership. Your own county Democrats may have another link.
Fellow Berners: We can always keep that third party card in our pockets, just to flash every now and then when we need it! But why reinvent the wheel? Ask any revolutionary! It’s always more efficient to takeover and subsume an existing power structure. Existing infrastructure comes complete with funding sources, databases, and (in this case) an entire alienated, often more liberal membership just waiting for us to assume power. As far as I can tell, we have a chance to replay 1968 all over again. Only this time, McCarthy doesn’t get squeezed out and RFK doesn’t get shot! This time maybe the Democratic party elders don’t get to wrench into place some easily defeated party hack (Humphrey) that a corrupt Richard Nixon could crush in the general election.
What is American politics anyway?
Political parties have never really been static organizations. They are more like seasonally inhabited tents permanently stationed in arid deserts. When and where the organizers do meet, the tribal leaders inside them rarely consider the needs of the next generation. They are too busy consoling themselves on their current losses, attempting to consolidate power with internal battles, compromising their beliefs to keep their party infrastructure alive, etc. Meanwhile the real world of wage earners, families, and youth are busy growing up and trying to figure out how much time and money they can spare to change a world that currently seems completely corrupt, irrational, and unfair! This leadership ignorance of their own membership explains why Hillary’s image and ideology are bankrupt to the near entirety of successive American generations under fifty! It also explains why a 74 year old grey haired Democratic Socialist is taking the country by storm in almost every state.
If Bernie wins the nomination, Bernie will win the Presidency! You know that moment in your life when you realized later if you just took the right path, all would have been different? Some of us are old enough to remember such moments! Elect Clinton, Trump, or Cruz and only God knows what havoc the military/financial/intelligence/industrial complex will reek with your young lives for the next 20 years. More poverty? More mass incarceration? More family debt and foreclosure? More international intervention and crisis? Is that what you want for your future? Then go ahead and vote for the status quo, because those are the ones that have brought you all of that today!
At nearly age 54, I can’t remember much of 1968. I do remember my father crying the day RFK was shot. Seeing my father cry for the first time left an impression to last a lifetime. I remember all the good men and women (McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Ferraro, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry) who lost to some version of dirty tricks (slander, October Surprise, ‘Willie Horton’, Election 2000, Swift Boated) in all the elections thereafter. But I am still voting with my heart even today. I am still voting for Bernie Sanders.
By Millennials + GenX thou shalt know the truth.
This year of 2016 , now fifty years from 1966, GenX + Millennials eclipse all previous generations (Depression era, pre-war, war baby, early boomers, late boomers) for voter registrants in both Whatcom County and WA state voter database. Literally, we now have ~2 M registrants each in the WA voter database born either before or after 1966. Indeed, data analysis appears to indicate that 2012 was the last hurrah for large scale registrations for those born before 1966. Although the Census definition for Millennials encompasses birth dates 1982–2000, that 18 year period is seven years short of the historically prototypical generation span (25 years). There is a good chance that those (not voting age yet) born between 1998–2004 will still be identifying themselves with typical Millennial concerns: high tuition rates, high concentration of wealth, global warming, global war, systemic unemployment, mass incarceration,the rise of the surveillance state, the rise of artificial intelligence, etc. Indeed, the next six years of new voter registrants might well be more angry and engaged than the last six. Like their near term predecessors on the voting rolls, ‘post Millennials’ (MillennialX ?) will be increasingly media and information technology savvy, defining their identities through media and technology even their tech bred parents will ultimately not understand.
A Moral Obligation
The Democratic Party has a moral obligation to court and integrate the progressive politics of the next generation into the vanguard of the big tent. Resistance to Berners is not just futile, it would ultimately split the Democrats into two parties: one centrist, one progressive. Neither side would stand to benefit much from this, as such a split could create bitter generational conflict. Those of you who remember 1968 may remember some of that. Let the conservative Democrats left in America march into the arms of the Asylum that now calls itself the Republican Party. The rest of us should prepare to make the most of a Sanders Presidency. This year, the political aspiration of the most relevant generations are as important as the Presidency itself. Please read more about the “Bernie Effect” at “Bellingham Politics and Economics”
Ryan Matthew Ferris is a Stay at Home Dad, political blogger and resident of the Columbia neighborhood of Bellingham, WA.