Hillary Clinton
Credit: Nathania Johnson/Flickr

Over at The New Republic, Rebecca Martin has a piece suggesting that Hillary Clinton isn’t doing enough to appeal to Millennials who don’t go to college. And that may be true. It’s not going to be easy to drag young Millennials to the polls, and the more economically pressed they are, the less time they have to think or care about politics.

On the other hand, Martin’s advice that Clinton not try to by hip or cool in the Obama style seems somewhat nonsensical and a little uncharitable. I mean, it wasn’t my cup of tea but I do remember the whole Texts from Hillary meme.

She didn’t seem to reflect a “distinctly uncool…stodgy political persona” to me. Maybe it was a little strained but it was funny and it kind of fit. I don’t see why she should attempt to make a virtue out of being boring nor why she should avoid the kind of slick marketing that could humanize her for young people. Of course, it has to work. It can’t be ridiculous.

Anyway, Martin really only suggests one policy prescription that Clinton could use to talk to non-college student Millennials, and it’s not very impressive:

So far, though, Clinton has failed to put together that message. To pry young, working-class voters away from Trump, she’ll need to champion a host of unglamorous, brass-tacks economic issues. Take one example that antiregulatory conservatives have embraced: streamlining the process of securing licenses for professions like hairdresser, electrician, or building contractor. “It shouldn’t take me longer to become a florist than to become an EMT,” says Patrice Lee of Generation Opportunity, the conservative youth outreach network underwritten by the Koch brothers. “It locks a lot of young people out of opportunity.”

Is there a federal hairdressing license? Does the Department of Energy have to approve every new electrician in the country?

There might be a way to make it easier and quicker to apply for Small Business loans or something, but I think Martin needs to go back to the drawing board.

And, as she noted elsewhere in her article, it’s not as if these voters need to be pried away from Trump.

By rights, working-class youth should be Clinton’s for the taking: Fifty-two percent lean Democratic; 34 percent tilt Republican. And because so many are politically disengaged, their leanings are considered “soft,” in campaign parlance: They could be swayed by any candidate with a message that resonates.

They don’t so much need to be stolen from Trump as they need to be motivated to bother voting at all. However hip Obama supposedly is, only 29 percent of working class young voters turned out in 2012. They’re not going to do any better this time around unless something changes, that is true.

But, honestly, getting a Text from Hillary would probably go further than pandering to them about streamlining state-issued trade licenses.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com