Opinion

Hudson: Colorado Young Dems clamor and converse at Capitol Cigars debate watch party

Author: Miller Hudson - February 17, 2016 - Updated: February 17, 2016

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Xavier Breaniak, Emma Donahue and David Sabados chat during the Wisconsin debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hosted by PBS from Wisconsin Feb. 11. Brezniak is talking about his online store for Democrats. One hundred percent of the proceeds go back to the candidates and women pay 23% less because of the gender pay gap, he said. (Photo by Patricia Duncan/The Colorado Statesman)
Xavier Breaniak, Emma Donahue and David Sabados chat during the Wisconsin debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders hosted by PBS from Wisconsin Feb. 11. Brezniak is talking about his online store for Democrats. One hundred percent of the proceeds go back to the candidates and women pay 23% less because of the gender pay gap, he said. (Photo by Patricia Duncan/The Colorado Statesman)
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Miller Hudson

About 50 predominantly millennial Democrats gathered last week to catch the Sanders/Clinton clash from Wisconsin at Capitol Cigars on East Colfax. Together with the regular smokers the clamoring locale was loud enough that it was necessary for the bartenders to switch on the Closed Captioning TV feature for those who actually wanted to follow the debate — that included only a few of the Democrats in attendance evidently. This crowd likely planned to troll for YouTube highlights on their smartphones the next morning. There was still some buzz about the Broncos dominant performance at the Super Bowl; one Democrat even suggesting John Elway should be drafted by Republicans as their candidate for President. “He proved he can adjust to reality following the Seattle defeat, and he’s obviously not afraid of a diverse workforce,” the “Don’t use my name,” young Dem giggled.

It was evident the overwhelming majority of these Dems were “feeling the Bern.” But, upon closer inspection, their support was, at least in part, conditional on the continuing success of the Donald. Whoopi Goldberg may be ready to move to Canada if Trump is elected in November, but these Colorado Democrats figure that even a septuagenarian Socialist can whip the kind of narcissist who gives New York arrogance a bad name. It’s not just that Hillary’s “eat your spinach and clean your plate” homilies play poorly against Sanders’ “free dessert for everyone.” (My great Aunt Verna used to serve ice cream with fresh fruit for breakfast. Guess who was my favorite Aunt?) Hillary isn’t just failing to connect with voters; she doesn’t appear to know what they care about. Democratic campaign consultant David Sabados, who will spearhead the single payer, Colorado Care proposal this fall, concurred with one proffered explanation for Clinton’s failure to excite younger voters.

“Hillary is running on the proposition that she best understands how Washington really works — that she knows when to change the spark plugs on the decrepit, diesel engine that is our federal government. Young voters aren’t interested in a ride on that smoking, belching antique. They want a Tesla, or might settle for a hybrid, but they want things fixed!” Sabados said. Hillary can claim a single payer health care system is politically dead on arrival in Congress, but when Bernie Sanders points out, as he did Thursday, that 14 of the 15 largest democracies have figured out how to offer health care as a right, and not a privilege, “So can the United States of America,” Sabados exclaimed.

Bernie’s promise of free college tuition may prove equally fanciful, but it has pushed Hillary into suggesting “debt free” degrees. The current regimen of indentured servitude in exchange for student loans cannot continue. So, as long as Republicans are willing to entertain Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as serious candidates, Democratic voters appear delighted to have Bernie in the race — and plan to use their votes to push Clinton as far left as they can if this particular crowd of Denver Young Democrats was any indicator.

It’s not that they actively dislike Clinton, or that they will remain home and sit on their hands if she emerges as the eventual nominee. My son, who is currently a rabid Sanders supporter, asked me after the debate whether I thought Republicans would use Bernie’s youthful musings against him. These include bizarre essays he wrote speculating that cervical cancer was frequently a result of too few orgasms, and that marriage often proves a form of slavery for women. (It makes you wonder how he accounts for prostate cancers?) Of course Republicans will use these scribblings against him! They are better than emails or Benghazi. Meanwhile, Clinton needs to continue to retool her campaign message, and focus on how things could be better for Millennials — how do we assure better salaries, affordable housing, access to quality health care, world class infrastructure and assured retirements, for starters? It would be nice if Republican candidates did the same.

— miller@coloradostatesman.com

Miller Hudson

Miller Hudson

Miller Hudson is a public affairs consultant and a former state legislator. He can be reached at mnhwriter@msn.com.