The Hillary/Bernie Imaginaries

There is more to elections than the candidate's policies and positions. Nodding off during the last Democratic debate, I had this imaginary: Hillary reminds people of their mothers; if they love/like their mothers, she'll do okay. Bernie reminds people of their grandfathers; and he'll do well with those who admire their grandfathers. 

Another piece of imaginary: why do polls show younger people going for Bernie and older people going for Hillary (this may be giving polls more credence than they deserve).

Peggy Noonan in the WSJ ((1/30/16) speculates that young people have gone through a terrifying economic upheaval (2008 and all that), and they want change; they are not fans of Wall Street, free markets, etc., low taxes and a good business environment. On the other hand, older voters have seen good times come and go and aren't so keen on change that goes by the name of socialism (even democratic socialism). She may be onto something there. Another element in this calculus could be that older voters really did have to cope with change in the 1960s and '70s (Vietnam, Civil Rights, Women's Movement, demonstrations, riots, etc.), and may not be big fans of the kind of change they see Bernie Sanders proposing, even if they sound like good ideas.

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.

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