With each election season comes a mad dash by candidates to appeal to as many groups as possible, especially the youth.
So far, we have seen different approaches to this strategy. Hillary Clinton infamously went on The Ellen Show to do the whip and nae nae. Jeb Bush has had a series of tech-focused attempts at millennial outreach, such as the awkward video short where he dons a hoodie in 105-degree Las Vegas or his constant mentions of the Apple Watch.
These strategies have not been successful. Jeb is down to 4 percent in the polls, and while Hillary is still in the lead for the Democratic nomination, many young voters have flocked to Bernie Sanders, who was considered unelectable when he announced.
This shows that a lot of the current attempts at millennial “outreach” are missing the mark completely. Take Hillary Clinton’s Twitter faux pas: On Aug. 12, the Clinton campaign tweeted asking how student loans made students feel in “3 emojis or less.” This tweet was met with major backlash.
This reaction shows the most important thing about communicating with young people: In order to command their full attention, you must treat them as equals. Hillary’s plan to eliminate student debt could positively affect the lives of many young people, but using emojis to get that point across reeks of belittlement and condescension.
Madison Yandell, government junior and College Republicans of Texas President, said candidates pandering to the youth is disrespectful.
“Personally, I find it insulting when candidates think this type of outreach is going to win my vote, and I think many of my peers would agree,” Yandell said.
When a politician panders to a demographic as blatantly as Clinton did, the effort is obvious and doesn’t reflect integrity in character. When a politician will do anything to get votes, their reliability as a leader is questionable.
Alternatively, Bernie Sanders has produced a lot of excitement among millennials. While Sanders is active on Twitter and has a large Reddit following, many of his supporters do much of his promotional work for him.
The main reason for this support is that Sanders’ policies are very relevant to young people. His plans to make public college free and end the War on Drugs resonate strongly. Bernie’s priority is promoting these policies, not tweeting memes or emojis.
A major factor in the success of millennial outreach is whether it is organic or manufactured. If a candidate believes in his or her policies passionately, voters will take notice and take it upon themselves to promote these policies. Candidates need to speak to millennials as their equals and need to stop playing the part of the cool uncle.
Chastain-Howley is an undeclared sophomore from Dallas.