Presidential Campaign

It’s Bernie Sanders vs. Gary Johnson for millennial votes

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While GOP nominee Donald Trump debates with his campaign staff about whether to keep insulting a former Miss Universe, a profound and serious contest has begun between former Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson to win the votes of millennials.

{mosads}On Sept. 1, I wrote here that there should be a debate between Sanders and Johnson if Johnson were not included in the main presidential debate (which I suggested he should have been). While Sanders and Johnson are not on stage together, that debate has now begun as the campaign approaches a climax.

Earlier this week, Sanders joined Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire urging voters in the Granite State to support Clinton’s candidacy.

Sanders will be campaigning in states across the country in the coming week, reminding voters — as he did in New Hampshire — that he and Clinton would fight for free public college education for millions of young people and a debt-free education for others. On education, Johnson is so strongly opposed to any government role that he opposes major new programs that involve government efforts to help students.

Johnson, who is a man of integrity, has some arguments to make to millennial voters. He is a strong defender of civil liberties and a strong advocate of abortion rights and legalization of drugs and was a solid and respected Republican governor of New Mexico.

Sanders would argue that Clinton is also a strong supporter of abortion rights and defender of civil liberties and many other issues that Sanders has long championed and Clinton strongly supports. And Sanders is discouraging votes for third-party candidates because no third-party candidate has any chance of winning and a vote for them helps Trump, whom a large majority of millennials deplore.

Johnson has one very big problem with most voters, and that is the series of recent gaffes and mistakes that make it clear he is not remotely ready to be president. He did not even know what or where Aleppo is, while people throughout the nation and around the world have been inundated with news about the tragedy that continues in that city and throughout Syria.

Most recently, Johnson, when asked by Chris Matthews on MSNBC, could not name one foreign leader he admires. It was strange and embarrassing when Johnson said he was having another “Aleppo moment” while his vice presidential candidate, former Republican Gov. William Weld (Mass.), who was sitting next to Johnson, tried to answer the easy question for him.

From the point of millennials, Sanders, by his presence and support for Clinton, makes a powerful case for Clinton that many younger voters will carefully consider.

Sanders and Clinton support action to create tens of millions of high-wage American jobs to rebuild America, while Johnson is hostile to government spending as a matter of principle.

Sanders and Clinton have united behind proposals to help college students burdened by tuition and former students burdened by debt, while Johnson’s hostility to government action would leave them hostile to the magic of the marketplace that has not been kind to them.

Sanders and Clinton are rock-solid united behind efforts to cleanse our democracy from the abuses of dirty money and reverse the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, while Johnson believes the opposite and suggests that massive campaign spending by special interests is a First Amendment right.

Sanders and Clinton are aggressively battling to save the Earth from climate change, while Johnson opposes government action as a matter of principle. Johnson recently said that he believes that when the existence of Earth is threatened at some future date, he believes a solution would be to send earthlings to live on another planet that survives after the Earth is gone.

Sanders and Clinton battle to improve healthcare by creating a public option that would offer a low-cost option for consumers, while Johnson’s support for the pure magic of the marketplace will leave consumers at the mercy of insurance companies and Big Pharma.

It will be fascinating to watch Bernie Sanders and Gary Johnson compete for the political allegiance of millennials and others as they discuss these and other issues. Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton and Democrats owe a huge debt to Sanders, who is the great champion of millennials and all Americans who want a government of the people and not for the special interests.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Gary Johnson Hillary Clinton

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