I have heard it a million times now. Everywhere on social media and real life, Sanders supporters troll Clinton supporters with this idiotic argument for Bernie Sanders' electability: a third of millennials who are backing Sanders will not vote for Hillary Clinton should she be the Democratic party's nominee, they say, and without them, Clinton cannot win the White House. But Clinton supporters will all back Sanders should he be the nominee, and therefore if we know what's good for us and don't want a President Trump, we should shut up and surrender to these blackmail voters.
This is a smear.
This is a smear of an entire generation. This is a smear that suggests that Democratic millennials - my generation - are the suicide generation. This is a smear that suggests that when my generation loses a fair fight, they will demand victory by blackmail. This is a smear that my generation, who voted big for President Obama and have been raised to reject bigotry will throw away all the progress we have made under President Obama and allow the open bigotry of Trump and Cruz to triumph.
We will not.
We will not, because we cannot. I know that most of my fellow millennials voting in the Democratic primary aren't choosing my candidate. But I know that they will not throw away the future of our country just to stomp their feet.
I know, because I have been on the other side of this table. I got my start in retail politics in the groundbreaking presidential campaign of Gov. Howard Dean. I was 20, green, passionate, ready to make change. I was angry at the Democratic establishment for allowing George W. Bush to take us to war in Iraq, and I wanted health care reform - of the kind Gov. Dean had made happen in Vermont, expanding existing public and private insurance systems. I had found a candidate who gave voice to my frustrations, my impatience, my hunger for change. I viewed the ultimately successful efforts to bring his candidacy down by the Democrats in DC with disdain.
I wasn't alone. Howard Dean's campaign is known as the first campaign to truly plug into the power of the Internet, and he brought in massive amounts of money and support from young people. There were the orange hats in Iowa, and many of us, like myself I suspect, were none too concerned about certain gaps in Dean's progressive record, his positive NRA rating and support for NAFTA among them. We liked that he was addressing the outrage of the time, the invasion of Iraq, we liked what he had to say, and we liked the fact that he was a successful governor.
But his campaign ended. And we voted for John Kerry. We went to phone banks and called voters in battleground states. We walked precincts, lit-dropped and voted. We didn't go home because our preferred candidate did not become the nominee of our party.
In 2008, my emotions were stirred when Barack Obama allowed a pastor who advocated for ex-gay therapy his campaign platform, and that pushed me at one point to believe that I could never vote for Obama. Yet, I was able to step back, reconsider, and finally cast my support and my ballot for him. I could not be prouder that I did.
Passions flare during primaries. We want our candidates to reflect our most deeply held idealism, and at times we get so wrapped up in our own candidates that we lash out at the mere suggestion we may have to vote for a different candidate. But as the primaries wind down, those flares change. It will this time as well.
Already, even by the estimates of the most partisan Sanders-backing flamethrowers, two-thirds of millennials voting for Bernie Sanders are already ready to vote for Clinton in November. Already, we know that the voting universe is different for primaries and general elections in both depth and number. Primary voters, especially young primary voters, tend to be few in number, ideological and polarized while the general election voters tend to be more pragmatic and greater in number. We know that Hillary Clinton would crush her Republican opponent among millennials, and that' as of March 2016.
The one third of Sanders millennial voters who say they will not back Hillary Clinton? Assuming they aren't the third that say they vote but in actuality don't cast a ballot at all, the vast majority of even those will cast their ballots in November for Hillary Clinton because despite the heat of the primaries, they know what is at stake. They know what a Republican president would mean for the country: the dismantling of health care reform, the reversing of Wall Street reform and student loan reform, the advancement of bigotry and the recession of women's access to health care, not to mention risk a repeat of the economic turmoil of 2008.
They will vote for Hillary Clinton because Hillary Clinton, who has earned more votes than any candidate Democrat or Republican so far, will work hard to earn their vote and answer their questions. They will vote for Hillary Clinton because the greatest champion of change in the Oval Office in more than a half a century, President Obama will make the case for Hillary Clinton to carry that torch of transformation. They will vote for Hillary Clinton because even Bernie Sanders will back the party's nominee in the general election. They will vote for Hillary Clinton because they do not have to buy into the smears the Right wing has spread against her for almost three decades.
But most importantly, they will vote for Hillary Clinton because we are not prepared to hand the keys of our economy, of our country's course, and of our future to one of the remaining regressive Republicans in the race. They will vote for Hillary Clinton because we are proud of a country that has made history by electing its first African American president, and we will be proud to see a woman shatter that final glass ceiling.
Yes, there will still be a few who will cling to their empty ideological purity and refuse to cast a ballot for Clinton. But they will be few and by no means limited to the millennial generation. An entire generation will not be defined by the petulance of a few.
We are the millennial generation, and we will not be known as the suicide generation. Bernie Sanders partisans should stop using that smear for the convenience of their political case.