I’m interning for a Democratic presidential candidate this summer, and I’ve been asking staffers why they joined the team. One woman, a former high-ranking Obama era administration official who had never worked on a campaign before this one, summed up the collective response.
“Because I think this is the most consequential election of my lifetime,” she said. “And frankly, unless we have the right nominee, I don’t think we’re going to beat Donald Trump.”
When I’m on campus, I hear that he has no chance, but when I talk to people from outside of the BC bubble, whether factory workers in my home state of Michigan (which narrowly went red in 2016) or voters rights activists in Miami at the debate, they repeatedly insist that it will be an uphill battle to defeat Donald Trump. That, despite his Tweets and inflammatory rhetoric over the past two years, there is a good chance he will win re-election.
Everyone from 70% of money managers (who make a living on correct predictions) to Trump-hating rocker Bruce Springsteen say that Trump has got it in the bag. Unemployment and gas prices, often said to be predictors of whether an incumbent will win, are historically low.
We may understand there’s more to leadership than gas prices (like making healthcare affordable or combating climate change), but not all of America agrees.
That’s why it’s more important than ever that young people, the lynchpin of the Democratic Party, don’t become complacent. I’m not going to tell you who to support, although I do have a couple of suggestions, but I will say this—you need to start organizing for whoever you think has the best chance to win the White House in 2020. While 63% of Democrats aged 65 and older say electability is the most important thing to look for in the 2020 primary, only 41% of voters under 29 said the same. That needs to change. The question of electability has long been used as an excuse to nominate old, white, establishment figures, but I believe young people see right through that. Most of us understand that what makes someone electable isn’t their race, gender, or sexuality, but rather their ability to energize the American people.
It’s important to ensure that we nominate the most formidable candidate. Once we do, we need to actually vote for them. The incorrect assumption that Trump will definitely lose in 2020 is likely to dampen youth turnout, a dangerous possibility for those who don’t support the incumbent.
If the 67% of young voters who say they want a new President mean it, then it’s about time they start taking the election seriously. Encourage your friends to volunteer, vote, and start engaging in the political process. And remind them that if they don’t, they have no right to complain about the outcome next November.