Both parties out of touch with young voters in different ways

It was when Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account asked its followers to describe their student loan debt using three emojis or less that I knew exactly what we were in for in this election cycle.

This brazen pandering to millennial voters isn’t surprising, but it’s annoying all the same. Clinton exemplifies it, whether it’s her official Snapchat account, a major interview with Buzzfeed in October or (embarrassingly) hitting the dab on “Ellen.”

Despite those efforts, however, Bernie Sanders is the preferred Democratic candidate for president among young voters, according to recent polling data from Rock the Vote. Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they support Sanders, compared to Clinton’s 35 percent.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist (though he’s actually more of a 20th century liberal), has gained popularity among young voters by doing what he’s always done: ignoring the riff raff and getting straight to policy.

Sure, using emojis to express your distaste for exorbitant university tuition is fun, but it’s not substantive discourse. Tactics like that only serve to treat 20-something voters like children.

To her credit, it seems like Clinton has finally realized she has a viable opponent and is going in hard on Sanders’ universal health care and free college tuition plans, which are arguably not as realistic as her proposed incremental changes to the status quo. Time will tell if it’s too late for her to swing young voters back in her direction, though.

It’s also to Clinton’s credit that she’s trying at all, considering the active antagonism the right wing of American politics seems to have toward young voters. The aforementioned poll had Donald Trump at 26 percent, Ben Carson at 11 percent and the rest of the crowded GOP field in single digits.

It’s never been a secret that Republican candidates are always more appealing to older voters, but it’s frankly mind-blowing that they don’t do more to remedy that, considering how it’s hurt them in recent years.

If Mitt Romney had so much as achieved a 50-50 split among young voters in 2012, he would have won the election. Instead, Barack Obama got 67 percent of the youth vote.

With more than half of Americans in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage as of 2015 (according to Gallup), each and every viable Republican candidate has, at best, hesitated to support its recent nationwide legalization on some level. That stance makes it harder and harder to win national elections as time goes on, especially with regards to the millennial vote.

It’s also not remotely endearing to act like young left-leaning Americans are just slobbering dolts who are drawn to the promise of “free stuff,” when in reality, some of us just want to go to the hospital or get an education without going bankrupt.

Of course, not every young voter is going to make rational decisions (I wasted my first vote in 2012 on a regrettable third-party candidate), but to see both parties continue to treat that demographic like this is incredibly frustrating.