Professor David Schultz speaks at DL | Photo by the author
by Steve Timmer
Apr 2, 2016, 4:00 PM

David Schultz wows ’em at Drinking Liberally

Hamline’s professor David Schultz spoke to a full house at Drinking Liberally on Thursday evening, March 31st. Professor Schultz is a keen observer of the political scene — evidenced by his frequent appearances on the Almanac couch on Friday evenings — and his remarks on the occasion were lively and interesting.

Professor Schultz visits with the crowd before his remarks

Professor Schultz visits with the crowd before his remarks

The professor is a sometimes contributor at LeftMN, and I was talking with him a while ago about the Millennials and how hard they were to attract to Drinking Liberally. He smiled — enigmatically — and said, “Well, I’ll come to DL sometime, and we’ll talk about them.”

As I said, it was interesting, and illuminating, too. Professor Schultz started out by talking about how the presidential election was already over in about forty states. And that no president, since and including Abraham Lincoln, had won the presidency without winning Ohio.

This was sobering to me. And probably to you, too. He went on to say that only perhaps a score of House seats were truly flippable in the upcoming election.

This was also sobering to me. (I think one of them, by the the way, is the Second Congressional District in Minnesota. Operators are standing by for your calls to contribute to Angie Craig.)

Professor Schultz described how states, regions, cities, and even neighborhoods had become so ossified in their voting patterns that most of the election is entirely predictable (and why it is so easy to gerrymander districts). It is why there is so little incentive to negotiate in Congress, because almost nobody is in trouble. People just like to live near other people who think they way they do, I guess. Or perhaps have to, due to financial circumstances.

The distribution of political attitudes has become, instead of a Bell curve, a dromedary camel, with fewer centrists. When Professor Schultz made this remark, LeftMN and DL sidekick Tony Petrangelo leaned over and whispered, “To the parties, this is a feature, not a bug.”

I have to admit that hanging around people like Professor Schultz and Tony Petrangelo has made me a much more cynical person. I used to be such an ingenue. But Tony is certainly right. The same campaign operatives and consultants pitch to the same candidates and deliver the same voters cycle after cycle, in both major parties.

Enter Bernie Sanders and the Millennials; that is, persons born roughly between 1980 and 2000. The old, Jewish guy from Brooklyn destroys Hillary Clinton by three and four to one margins in the demographic, even with women. This annoys, of course, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright. The attitudes of the Millennials are progressive, and they obviously see Bernie as the game changer and Hillary Clinton as the status quo.

But why don’t we see hordes of Millennials at Drinking Liberally or at most precinct caucuses and conventions, certainly in the off-presidential cycles? Or taking more active roles in the parties?

According to Professor Schultz, Millennials are not big Party People. The don’t see either major party as agents for the change they want: to make the economic system give them a much-needed break on a range of issues, including, but certainly not limited to, higher education expenses and debt. (As an aside, I think that Hillary Clinton’s scoffing at free public college tuition was an act of ritual suicide in front of an audience of Millennials.)

Hillary Clinton wrote some time ago that children are our future, and indeed they are. The Millennials are our biggest cohort, and they’re starting to throw their weight around. Good for them.

At the end of his remarks, Professor Schultz saved a little time to talk about the legislative proposal to reopen the CCA private prison at Appleton. He didn’t mince words; he thought it was a bad idea. He’d penned an op-ed in MinnPost about the subject earlier in the week.

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