In the latest installment of Hillary Clinton’s efforts to raise the stakes for this presidential election, particularly for the anti-Trump millennials who are not supporting her as strongly as they might, her campaign is reportedly bringing in a blast from the past with a certain perspective on the future: former vice-president and 2000 popular-vote winner Al Gore.
According to Politico, Gore could be an asset with millennials for two reasons:
Clinton and aides have recently been pointing to Gore’s 2000 experience as a warning to young voters who are considering voting for third-party candidates. Gore also is a notable spokesman for the issue of climate change — a topic President Barack Obama has also been using to try to energize young voters.
It will be interesting to see how well this works. For the younger millennials (Clinton’s real Achilles heel), the whole 2000 saga may seem like ancient history; so, too, may much of the Bush administration that followed. So lurid tales from Gore about how self-indulgent lefties casting “protest votes” for Nader wrecked the country may not be instantly understood without the aid of hand puppets. And for that matter, Gore’s pioneer role in climate-change activism may seem as relevant to a first-time voter as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
But to older millennials and Gen-Y voters who were politically galvanized by the W. years, Gore could be both relevant and persuasive. And for Gore himself, it could offer a bit of vindication. His last big intervention in conventional party politics occurred when he endorsed Howard Dean for president in 2004. That did not work out so well.
It’s all a bit ironic, though, if you recall Gore’s and Clinton’s earlier history. When Gore was elected vice-president in 1992, he was, along with Bill Clinton, the avatar of late-baby-boom/early Gen-X political hipness, which back then meant the centrist New Democrat movement that is in such ill repute among progressives today (remember Gore’s high-profile championship of NAFTA and welfare reform?). Indeed, in the Clinton White House, Gore and HRC often represented dueling influences, with the veep usually leaning to the right and FLOTUS to the left.
So it’s an interesting turn of events that Gore is now in a position to protect Hillary Clinton’s left flank as a millennial-whisperer. But there truly is no better witness to the real-life consequences of the not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference view of the major parties that remains so prevalent among the current batch of youngsters.