"Hillary has undoubtedly made a lot of mistakes," a typical argument goes, "and neither the Clinton administration nor Hillary's senatorial career were the ideal bastions of leftward thought. But it's time to put down the red flag and work together for a common cause, kids. Hillary's come around on several mistakes, and besides all that, the Clintons have had a hard road, with Republican intransigence at every turn and the need to balance diverse coalitions. If she can compromise, why can't you?"
And there's some truth to this narrative. She's not a monster, she's not heartless, and, in the final tally, Hillary Clinton seems like a decent human being with a decent grasp of the issues who would work for the causes she advocates in her campaign. And, yes, Clinton has "come around," to the point where her platform honestly and accurately represents a left-of-center agenda in the American political establishment.
But the part about millennial idealism just isn't true: I'm nothing if not a realist. Her campaign, by sheer dint of its own cynical power, is living proof that the United States as currently constructed will never, ever, ever achieve universal health care, much less the broader goal of social democracy. Hillary won't fight for it, and with Democrats like Hillary in power, Bernie can't hope to achieve it. Her brand of Democrats simply doesn't care about poor Americans enough to fight for them, I've decided.
So let's get real. After all, most of us millennials are practical in the final tally--we simply don't have enough in our pockets to be idealistic! So here's a gritty, realistic, simple 3-step mini-agenda that should helpfully illustrate what Hillary Clinton might do right now to earn my vote now and in November:
- The Clinton Foundation, their friendly super-PACs, etc. must be irrevocably transferred to a progressive organization separate from either Sanders or Clinton's campaign whose resources must be primarily dedicated to humanitarian and progressive goals. Right now, Bill and Hillary Clinton are worth 9 figures--and a realistic millennial knows never to trust a plutocrat with their political institutions. At least bring that net worth down to a high 7 figures, where a mere 99.99% of us live. Otherwise I have no reason to think you'll represent my interests.
- The Clinton campaign must distance itself forever from Henry Kissinger and every other war-criminal still hanging around her door. It should be enough for now to explicitly denounce Kissinger for his war crimes, call for an investigation into Kissinger, and pledge to do better on that front. I believe that Hillary has come along in her thinking on foreign policy--but as a canny millennial I've come to believe you're only as good as the people around you who can support you and give advice. The Benghazi stuff doesn't seem fair at all, but how is someone who listens to Kissinger going to make good, humane decisions on foreign policy that redound to the credit of the United States?
- The Clinton campaign must acknowledge that social democracy--or at least a few toddling steps towards it--is a real, important goal of the younger generation, that it's both an ethically and practically good goal, and that we will find anything less unacceptable as our cohort ages into power. Therefore, to this end, Hillary will fight for universal health care, education, food, and housing when in office, and prove her commitment to this cause by announcing several social democrats she would elect to her cabinet. As a millennial who has continually discovered the generosity of the American people only by sharing my troubles, I know that you can't hope to get something until you ask for it.
- BONUS: This almost goes without saying, but this agenda would be incomplete without a massive commitment to gender and racial equality, income and wealth inequality, investment into infrastructure, massive campaign finance reform, environmental regulation. And, because it would be awesome and historic to elect the first woman president but incomplete without this, I want to see something by the DNC to guarantee women are represented in both houses of Congress and all future judiciary nominations.
It's only practical, you see.
Establishment writers always puzzle and puzzle about why young people--"even young women!!"--don't seem to want Hillary Clinton to become president. These writers--beloved and sophisticated, if generally obtuse--invent so many tortuous explanations for Bernie Sanders' support. They lecture at length about entitlement and idealism, they pathologize our passion, they talk in serious tones about "messaging". And on and on and on.
On and on to defeat in July. Look, Hillary could do what she always does: Listen to a grave team of august Ivy-educated advisors (class of '06!) about why Hillary Clinton is not a "brand" the "younger demographics" seem to "engage". Her "net favorables" are "underwhelming". Clinton could wait for a generation that Beltway insiders have condemned as "entitled" to pick as the lesser of two evils someone who has shown them mostly contempt for the last 8 months or so.
Or, Clinton could fix the gap between the political reality she is offering and the political reality young people want.
I hope this is helpful.