Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton struggles to catch on with regular Americans. While her poll numbers have generally kept her slightly ahead of her Republican opponent, her unfavorability ratings remain high while general trust in her honest ability remains low. This shows her poll numbers have less to do with her strength and more to do with concerns about Donald Trump. Even on that point, though, Trump is gaining ground on his Democratic opponent.
One key demographic that Clinton is struggling with is millennials. Young people this election cycle are leaning more towards third party candidates, whether it be Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. This has led to prominent establishment Democrats trying to shame third party voters for enabling Trump.
But why do millennials, who in the Democratic Party are largely a part of the “Bernie or Bust” crowd, dislike Clinton so much? Ironically, Clinton put this on display in an attempt to reach out to millennials.
Actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis hosts a web interview series called “Between Two Ferns”, named for the two ferns that stand on each side of the host and guest. The show normally hosts celebrities, but in the past has even welcomed President Barack Obama. President Obama’s performance was strong, though he has always performed well with millennials.
The logical conclusion the Clinton camp must have reached is that sending her on Between Two Ferns would be a great way to boost her numbers among millennials. This backfired hard.
While Galifianakis was on his game with jokes and witty comments, Clinton came unprepared and seemed bothered by the interview content. Either her prep team didn’t inform her that it was a comedy show and comedy shows are supposed to be funny, or her sense of humor got lost on her now scrubbed private e-mail server.
All through the interview, she barely cracks a smile and holds back laughs. Instead of showing millennials she is a human being, she continued reinforcing her image as a political robot incapable of showing any resemblance of a personality.
The attempt to humanize Clinton was a joke. Instead of embracing the comedic format, the former Secretary of State fell flat. Instead of appearing genuine and human, the Democratic presidential nominee appeared robotic and awkward. If the point was to humanize Hillary Clinton, everyone involved failed miserably.
But how everything turned out is subject to interpretation. The show’s producer seems to imply it was all a setup, saying Clinton was in on the entire awkwardness of the interview. This seems hardly believable and even if it was, it isn’t scoring brownie points with young people. Young people need a bit more than Zach Galifianakis jokes to become inspired.
The youth movements surrounding Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination, as well as the third party candidacies of Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, indicate millennials are looking for something new. A new wave of young people boosted former Congressman Ron Paul in 2012 and have helped push forward the libertarian movement. While libertarianism and progressivism philosophically are miles apart, they do share one thing: the need to try something new.
It’s an insult to the intelligence of young people to think that going on an Internet comedy interview with an actor will inspire people (many of which already don’t like Hillary Clinton) to change their mind.