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The Idealistic Millennials and The Hating of Hillary

In this curious electoral season one of the more perplexing elements is the white-hot hostility among many left-leaning Democrats toward Hillary Clinton. This sentiment has been dubbed “Hillary derangement syndrome” as a parallel to the well-documented “Obama derangement syndrome” and has been analyzed to death. Heck, I even took a shot at trying to explain it. But explaining it doesn’t feel very satisfying because, frankly, I just don’t get it. I simply do not understand the astonishing anger, even fury, that so many have toward HRC.

I like to understand things — a half-century and counting as a scientist does that to you — and am bothered when I don’t so I decided to collect some data. I listened to a bunch of programs put on-air by anti-Hillary sites, watched several videos and read a number of blogs and columns with particular attention to the ones coming from Millennials, the idealistic, mostly well-educated, mostly white and young voters who make up the core of Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

After the Nth iteration of the same arguments against Clinton accompanied by the standard proclamation that they could never vote for her because she is a ____ and a ____ (you can fill in the blanks with the words or phrases of choice) I was left with one imponderable: they are undeterred by the fact that, by not voting for her they are, in effect, voting for Trump (who now appears to be a fait accompli).

How can this be? How can people with such passion for progressive change be willing to sacrifice their ideals on the altar of Fascism?

Then, while watching a video made by a young woman supporter of Sanders it hit me. She’s maybe 20 give or take a year or so. She was four years old when Bush - Cheney and their putrescent gang of neocons took office, give or take a year. She was maybe 12 or 13 when Obama was elected. She has no idea of the horrors Bush et al. visited upon us. She has little grasp of the remarkable successes of the Obama years — years where a pragmatic president balanced his moderate economic policies with his progressive social ones. She seems not the grasp that the Hillary she’s learned to hate is an extension of Obama’s perspective with a slight shift to the left.

She almost certainly doesn’t see what I see. She’s probably not played the counterfactual game in her head. When I look back at the SCOTUS decision to suspend the vote recount in Florida, when I retrospectively review the impact that Nader’s third party candidacy caused I shudder anew.

Bush gave us two wars, neither of which was paid for because he pushed through an awful, regressive tax break that favored the wealthiest among us. Gore would likely not have invaded either Afghanistan or Iraq — in fact, there are good reasons to think that 9/11 would not have happened. Bush was warned about the terrorists’ plans and dismissed them. Gore, enjoying a significant IQ edge, likely would have taken them seriously and acted accordingly.

Bush supported the fossil fuel industry and denied the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Gore was and still is, one of the most prominent of environmentalists. Bush’s economic policies led to the Recession of ‘07 and ‘08. It’s difficult to imagine Gore supporting the financial positions that Bush’s people took. Bush passed the truly dreadful No Child Left Behind act which Obama, in his wisdom, neutralized.

My Millennial friends were babies, mere children when all this went down. They don’t grasp just how awful a right-wing nut in the White House can be. These terrible years are not even a memory. They are simply things they learned from school textbooks. The Bush - Cheney years are, to them, like the World Wars or the Civil Rights movement, history read about, not experienced. 

They’ve also been inundated with negative messages about Hillary. A recent study showed that she receives far more negative (and less positive) reporting in the press than any other candidate — including Trump. They’re angry that their standard-bearer is losing and, being young and idealistic, are staking out what they feel is the high moral-ground. They will not vote for Hillary — and, sotto voce, “maybe Trump won’t be that bad.”

He will.

I remember Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Pearle and Gonzalez. I remember the lies, the torture, the horrors of Abu Graib and the Black Sites, Gitmo, Katrina and the drowning of New Orleans, the sub-prime disaster, Blackwater, hundreds of thousands, maybe millions dead and displaced in the Middle East, thousands of Americans dead or wounded. I remember the huge deficit, an expanding government with an entire new Department of Homeland Security, the spying on US citizens … and so much more. I fear a return to these days.

I want our young idealists to sense just a glimmer of what I recall and, if they need to hold their noses, hold ‘em and vote for Hillary. She’ll continue Obama’s evolutionary pragmatism with a dash of feminism added to spice things up.

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