Fabiola Santiago

Bursting the Millennials’ Bernie bubble is an uphill battle

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a gathering of supporters during a campaign rally at the Lexington Convention Center on Wednesday in Lexington, Kentucky.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a gathering of supporters during a campaign rally at the Lexington Convention Center on Wednesday in Lexington, Kentucky. AP

I’m with her, but I don’t care if Bernie Sanders keeps campaigning for the Democratic nomination if it keeps his followers happy.

Six months from the election, it’s time for the Vermont senator who has won the hearts of Millennials — no easy feat — to use his persuasive oratory skills and help usher a real revolution by ending the patriarchal order of American politics and electing the first woman to the White House. Sanders could, if he wanted to, play a significant part in making that history by inspiring the generation whose political imagination he has awakened to rally around Clinton. She has 93 percent of the delegates she needs to win the Democratic nomination.

But despite the math against him, Sanders has dreamed up an alternative political reality in which he’s a hero on horseback — and the Millennials (plus Susan Sarandon) are his army of warriors. They don’t like Clinton. They repeat untruths, half-truths and imagined truths like minions for the GOP.

In their name, Sanders is ready to charge on, draw blood if necessary.

Near the end of the battle, he’s not only changing strategy — no longer the issues-only gentleman pre-Iowa, praised for his lack of anger and negativity. He also wants to change the battleground. He’s that quixotic. It’s his revolution right now. Instant gratification. The Democratic primary party rules should work in his favor.

Sanders wants all primaries to be open, so he can ostensibly bury Clinton, in Trump-like swiftness, with the vote of independent Millennials and disenchanted moderate Republicans (like they’re going from conservative to Social Democrat in one swing; #NeverTrump means #I’mWithHer now).

He’s staying in the race even if he damages Clinton in the process, fresh from his surprise victory in Indiana and campaigning hard in Kentucky. He has debated her on trade, campaign finance and the Iraq war. But now he’s slipping into the issues he had declared over-the-top and closed, like the emails. The California primary looms.

Can you feel the Bern now? He’s throwing a temper tantrum.

He’s right about one thing: his army shouldn’t be discounted.

"What we are doing in this campaign, and I am extremely proud of it, we are literally bringing millions of people into the political process," he said in Kentucky.

Not that he has brought them to the political stage alone. His followers also were part of the coalition that won Barack Obama two presidential elections. But Sanders has attracted young people with his promise of free education and healthcare. Their dominance in social media is a powerful factor. Comedian Sarah Silverman’s post on Facebook endorsing Sanders, for example, has been viewed more than 32 million times in one month. The commentary is a sociological study on how the nation’s largest living generation can quickly embrace one candidate and develop tunnel vision.

Their passion, in turn, has made Sanders believe he can win.

He doesn’t have to present a serious and achievable plan to convince them. In the world of soundbite-sized internet platforms, reading is not deep but emotional.

Bursting the Millennials’ Bernie bubble is an uphill battle. If Sanders’ presence keeps the Millennials engaged, learning, and gaining political sophistication, we can all afford to be patient.

Clinton will need their support against the menace of a Trump who can rally angry, fearful Americans afraid of losing world dominance. I get why Millennials don’t like standard boomer Clinton. It’s hard to come down from the high of the coolest president ever. Clinton isn’t charismatic. She’s smart, educated, diplomatic, and guards her privacy too closely for a generation that grew up on reality TV.

She may be the best political performer on Saturday Night Live, but that’s so my generation, not theirs.

Nothing Sanders says can change the fact that Clinton is the most qualified, most vetted and investigated candidate.

But Sanders’s disaffected followers could hurt her in the general election. It’s scary to hear Millennials say they’ll stay away from the polls if their beloved Bernie doesn’t win, thus helping fuel a Trump victory.

That’s a temper tantrum Democrats cannot afford.

“If Hillary is the nominee, I will proudly vote for her,” Silverman told The Daily Beast — and I exhaled a little.

Note to Democrats: Handle with care. 

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