Let’s count the ways that Molly Ball dehumanizes the youth vote.
1. They line up for hours to see Sanders, snow accumulating on their puffy jackets and knit caps and uncombed hair.
2. They gather in little knots as they wait for him to appear, engaging in impromptu rap sessions about pot legalization and campaign-finance reform.
3. [The New Left] is obsessed…with policing its own adherents for their violations of its norms.
4. At a rally against police violence at Dartmouth in November, a protester screamed at a frightened girl, “Fuck your white tears!”
5. “Socialism shouldn’t be a dirty word,” Phillip Moran, a green-eyed aspiring glassblower with a black beard and blue bandana on his head, told me.
6. The kids want legal marijuana.
7. They want rights for gay people and trans people and people in between genders.
8. “I work for our sexual-assault prevention program, educating people about seeking and receiving consent,” said Sami Cola, a women’s studies major at the University of New Hampshire with a blond topknot and ripped black jeans.
9. “I know I enjoy white privilege,” said Russel Evans, a 20-year-old history major at the University of Vermont with shoulder-length dirty-blond hair.
10. The kids are earnest and well-meaning and sweet. They come to see Sanders in couples, leaning on each other’s shoulder, wearing matching pot-themed T-shirts (“KEEP CALM AND BERN ONE”).
11. “I try to get people to recycle, because I care about what happens to the earth,” said Nicole Rode, a junior biology major, who wishes she could stop having political arguments on Facebook but can’t help herself.
12. Emily Ratajkowski, the swimsuit model best known as the girl in the the “Blurred Lines” video, emceed the event and began with a fiery repudiation of Gloria Steinem, who had implied that young women only supported Sanders because they wanted to meet boys.
13. The students around him all sat down, too, and he urged them to put their arms around each other. It had the feel of an old-school love-in. He led them in an a cappella rendition of “Lean on Me.”
In case you miss the point, these are kids who complain about income inequality even though they have ski lift tickets on their puffy jackets. They want free tuition, legal pot, and they can’t be bothered to comb their hair. They’re obsessed with rape culture and white privilege and use incomprehensible words like ‘cis’ and ‘intersectional,’ and they don’t like patriarchy. They have no use for religion or other imaginary things, and they dress in rags and don’t shave. They’re as likely to tsk-tsk you for saying something racist or failing to recycle as they are to worry about people who are “in between genders.’ They major is useless things like English, Women’s Studies, History, and sustainable-agriculture. Or, maybe they don’t even bother with college and merely aspire to be a hippified glassblower.
I like most of Molly Ball’s reporting, and this piece is probably a broadly accurate portrayal of the people she’s encountered in New Hampshire. But it’s needlessly snarky and dismissive. These young adults’ opinions aren’t less valid because they wear ripped jeans, argue obsessively on Facebook or believe in sustainable agriculture.
And, as Nancy pointed out earlier, it may be a bit premature to expect that the youth vote in places like South Carolina and Georgia will be as pro-Sanders as it is in Iowa and New Hampshire. This is an assumption that crept into the Matt Yglesias piece I cited in my last article.
To my way of thinking, Ball’s piece is flawed on both counts. It’s condescending and it’s presenting facts not yet in evidence.
Let the kids’ words speak for themselves, and let’s see how they vote before we tell everyone what they think.