Dear Democrats: Don’t Take the Youth Vote for Granted

by lizard

What probably appears to most as a run-of-the-mill mockery piece on “young” Republicans meeting in Helena from “Intelligent” Discontent is anything but. I suspect that behind the mockery lurks an unspoken fear that the once taken-for-granted youth vote is no longer a sure thing for Democrats. Here is the author claiming (once again) to know what the “problem” is:

While it’s great to include people of all ages in politics, clearly Montana Republicans have a different definition of young than I do.

More significantly, this quote illustrated the problems Republicans will face in the future:

Jessica Sena, chair of the MT Young Republicans, noted, “We need a new skin for an old message…and that’s social media. I mean, really maximizing every single one of the various media sources that are out there.”

That’s precisely what Republicans need to do if they want to become a permanent minority party in the United States and eventually Montana. I would argue the problems Republicans face in districts they haven’t gerrymandered to the point of absurdity has little to do with engaging voters on Twitter or Facebook.

The problem isn’t the media; it’s the message. Opposing health care, immigration reform, marriage equality, livable wages, and a clean environment certainly fires up the base that determines the outcomes of Republican primaries (a base that is decidedly not young), but it’s hardly a message that resonates with young voters.

One of the benefits of focusing on messaging is that actions are left unscrutinized, like Max Baucus muzzling advocates of single payer, Jon Tester killing the Dream Act, and Obama getting embarrassed into adjusting his stance on marriage equality after Biden’s comments.

And don’t get me started on a “clean” enviornment, because there is almost always disappointment from the actions of Democrats in that arena, as highlighted this week by Ochenski calling out Steve Bullock for a terrible decision:

In his first major environmental decision since the legislature ended, Gov. Steve Bullock completely blew it by allowing the transport of highly controversial tar-sands megaloads over Lolo Pass into Montana. Moreover, Bullock did so in spite of a recent federal court ruling that the loads could not impact the Wild and Scenic River Corridor of the Lochsa and Clearwater, a tribal resolution in opposition and a pending lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction to stop the loads. If this is how Bullock begins the environmental legacy of his administration, Montanans are in trouble.

Democrats are a failed political entity, and part of that failure has been the collapse of western leftist opposition to US imperialism. In a great article posted yesterday at Counterpunch, titled The Wishful Thinking Left, Jean Bricmont takes a hard look at the delusionary left and its petition on behalf of the jihadists trying to overthrow Assad in Syria:

The petition sees the events in Syria as an “extension of the Zapatista revolt in Mexico, the landless movement in Brazil, the European and North American revolts against neoliberal exploitation, and an echo of Iranian, Russian and Chinese movements for freedom.”, but they are careful not to link them to the anti-imperialist governments in Latin America, since the latter stand squarely against foreign interventions and for the respect of national sovereignty.

Finally, what should make anybody think that the “immediate” departure of Bashar al-Assad would lead to a “free, unified and independent Syria”? Aren’t the examples of Iraq and Libya enough to cast some doubts on such optimistic pronouncements?

I suggest reading Bricmont’s whole piece, because it does a great job of exposing the shallow intellectual waters the so-called western left swims in these days. Here is another excerpt that I find interesting:

If such petitions are worse than doing nothing, what should the Left do? First of all, mind its own business, which means struggling at home. This is a lot harder than expressing a meaningless solidarity with people in faraway lands. And struggling for what? Peace through demilitarization of the West, a non-interventionist policy, and putting diplomacy, not military threats, at the center of international relations. Incidentally, a non-interventionist policy is advocated by the libertarians and by the paleoconservative Right. This fact, plus invocation of pre-World War II history (the Spanish civil war, the Munich agreements), is constantly used by the Left to give anti-interventionism a bad name.

How will Democrats message to young people the need to overthrow Syria, or bomb the shit out of Pakistan and Yemen? How will Democrats explain the post-intervention Libya is a fucking disaster, and Iraq is slipping, every day, closer to a full-blown civil war?

The answer is easy. They will avoid talking about those things as much as possible, and use the Republican boogeyman every chance they get to scare young people into voting for their team.

That has been somewhat successful, but with Obama’s second term, and the pathetic attempt of establishment Democrats to message themselves out of their obvious support for an unconstitutional surveillance state, it’s going to take more than mocking Republicans to convince young people that voting Democrat will do a goddamn thing to right the wrongs America’s political establishment has pushed on the rest of the world.


  1. As always, you find the most important meme to write about. The Jean Bricmont piece is a must read. What calls itself the left is very delusional and very inconsequential. Yes, they need to work on matters at home with our own human rights abuses including the looting of our cities by the banksters. Form a coalition with the 2nd amendment people. I formed a pact the other night at the local watering hole with a conservative. I said I’d support his 2nd amendment rights if he’d support my 4th amendment concerns. “2nd and 4th” is our battle cry. Now I’ve got to try to make the argument that selling arms to foreign governments is not a good thing for the same reasons they are fearful of the g.d. gubmint here. Governments use weapons on their own people. Solidarity 101.

    • JC

      Don’t forget us Firsters.

      • You are so right. The first is first for a reason. But with the NSA revelations, the 4th has taken on new importance as it is also a safeguard for our 1st amendment rights of protected speech in our email and phone conversations. Another thing I’m exploring to bridge divides is the idea of commoning. Instead of talking about the “public” sphere or “public” lands because the word has been tainted, a re-look at the commons might be in order. Recently a conservative got bit by a rattler here. Cost $92,000. He said it probably wouldn’t cost that in Belgium not to mention it cost $100 a the vets. I asked him why he thought it was cheaper in Belgium. “Doctors charge less.” “Why?” I asked. He wasn’t sure but did know that the head of an insurance company made 21 million. That gave me my opening to do my spiel on a government being able to negotiate on behalf of 11 million people (Belgium) and dictate prices instead of the AMA and private insurance companies. Like Japan that told their engineers to come up with a cheaper MRI. “Some things should be non-profit, ” I said, and part of the commons. Like electricity for small business too. (He’s a small business man).

    • lizard19

      very kind words, thank you. and I appreciate hearing about any efforts to form relationships that defy the partisan herding. it’s possible, and I think you’ve shown some serious savvy in looking at the commons, as you described in your subsequent comment to JC. it’s encouraging.

  2. JC

    From Bricmont:

    “These two different world views divide both the Left and the Right: liberal interventionists and neoconservatives on one side, libertarians, paleoconservatives and traditional leftists on the other, and it may call for new and heterodox alliances.”

    This explains so much of the rancor lately in the montana blogosphere. And injects fear into the heart of neoliberals and mainstream dems.

    If politics is to become meaningful again, future successful politicians will not arise out of the democratic or republican parties. And Paul libertarianism is too weighted in laissez faire ideology to appeal to civil rights and economic justice supporters.

    But how many times have I been accused of doing the right’s work by attacking dem politicians? And seeing the (subtle) support from our resident paleoconservative (Big Swede) in my diatribes against the surveillance state and dem corruption adds to the strength of Bricmont’s argument.

    Who will be our main opposition to a new politics that subverts the fascist place of Wall Street money’s alliance with traditional politicians and the military/surveillance state? Those who still believe in, and fight for traditional politics and politicians.

    • Big Johansson

      Paleoconservative or “PC” for short.

  3. Adam

    As “college graduates live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can get going with their lives,” there’s a whole new generation plastering up their Ron Paul and Rand Paul posters embracing freedom, liberty and the American Dream. The Republican Party has been through dark days but the Republican youth is promising, and I have great hope for the future of the party and the future of America under their leadership.

    • lizard19

      I don’t think libertarian and Republican are interchangeable terms.

      I also don’t think Rand Paul is a true libertarian.

    • I hope they don’t look to any “great men” and look more to the leaderless Occupy types of movements that get some inspiration from the libertarian movements of the 19th century. The Pauls are good on civil liberties, The Fed, and non intervention but are seriously misunderstanding the free market flim flam. Read David Graeber on revolutions and the false god of free markets. Important piece from a real thinker. http://www.thebaffler.com/past/practical_utopians_guide

    • JC

      The Paul’s good on civil liberties??? I don’t think so:

      Paul libertarianism isn’t any sort of libertarianism that would be good for this country. It’s too caught up in the remnants of NIxon’s “southern strategy” type of politics.

      I don’t think the American Dream, as espoused by Paul libertarianism, is any kind of dream. It’s just another smoke screen for the powers that be.

  4. What a winning alternative coalition might look like. http://samsmitharchives.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/leading-the-majority-how-minorities-change-america/

  5. Turner

    I used to be a revolutionary romantic – there’s still a Che Guevara shirt in one of my dresser drawers – but I’ve been over that for quite a while. Still, my sympathies remain for the oppressed of the world and against the oppressors. What person who has watched a few Robin Hood movies wouldn’t have these sympathies?

    The problem is that often the oppressed whom I’d like to help somehow are, as the article points out, often not without oppressive instincts of their own. Even so, I suppose there are humanitarian interventions that I could be talked into supporting. Various genocides (e.g., Darfur) might’ve been prevented or mitigated through limited, very targeted military interventions.

    The author’s distinction between Western powers opposing governments (illegal intervention) and countries like China and Russia opposing rebels (legal intervention) is pretty much lost on me, though. Whether a government is legitimate or not isn’t always easy to determine. Whether or not insurgents have good motives is just as hard to determine.

    Staying out of foreign conflicts is almost always a good idea. But under extreme circumstances and for the right reasons – which shouldn’t include defending corporate interests – I could support military interventions.

    And withdrawing from conflicts that we had a hand in causing or worsening (Iraq and too many other countries to name) is the best idea of all. This should include not just withdrawal but compensation for victims of American government-corporate skullduggery.

    • Big Johansson

      Yeah but Che, unlike Robin Hood, never knelt his victims down and put a bullet in the back of their heads.

    • lizard19

      US foreign policy is always about self interest. I think the mistake we make—we as in regular citizens—is assuming our interests are aligned with with those who craft and implement foreign policy.

      take Egypt, for example. Obama won’t even acknowledge the military coup was a military coup, because that would affect the flow of money, which might disrupt the military’s ability to control the Sinai, and that would upset Israel. in Egypt, the US interest is aligned more with Israel than with what Americans might hope to see, which is movement toward a more inclusive democratic process. as evidence, Israel killed some terrorists with a drone strike in Egyptian territory, which is apparently just fine
      with the new (old) boss in Egypt.

  6. Here’s a good essay on the misuse of our political language:
    http://cabowers.net/pdf/Misuse.pdf

  7. Entrenched Stalwart

    Thank God Bullock allowed the megaloads through. Not allowing the loads through is the type of chicken little actions that make it hard to get dems elected in Montana. If the democrat party is a failed entity then progressive purists are to blame. They are as destructive to the Dem party as the teabaggers are to the right. Never satisfied, bitching at every turn, an absolute unwillingness to compromise, and an unwavering belief that they hold the truth and people who do recognize that truth are either evil or have not been enlightened. The uncompromising progressive purists would shut down any economic development at the slightest hint of environmental concerns . For example they are willing to stop all coal production to save the world for future generations while at the same time making energy costs go through the roof so anybody struggling with their power bill now, will be sent into a tail spin. Democrats are the party of the people, and should not be the party of extreme environmentalist. “exposing the shallow intellectual waters the so-called western left swims in these days” the shallowest of waters are found on the fringe, whether that is a teabagger or progressive purist.




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