Hillary loyalty pledge backfires at Millennial-focused event

In an apparent effort to showcase her support among Millennials, Hillary Clinton’s campaign asked attendees at a recent event to sign a pledge committing their vote to Hillary.

The event at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio was geared toward college-age voters, but most of the attendees were more enthusiastic about Hillary’s rivals or the chance to see her husband than they were to see the candidate, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The flop was doubly embarrassing, reporter Salena Zito asserted, given that the event featured a loyalty pledge that supporters were asked to fill out before entering. In addition to committing their vote to Clinton, the pledge also asked participants to fill out their contact information and volunteer for the campaign.

Zito tweeted a photograph of the full pledge after the event, with the caption, “Hillary has Millennials sign commitment pledge in order to attend #cleveland event.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson then tweeted back: “not true. like other candidates, we offer people a chance to commit to vote but it is not a restriction to attend.”

It is unclear how many individuals signed the unenforceable pledge, but Zito claims that “scores of students” expressed their ambivalence toward Clinton in conversations with her during the event, including one Bernie Sanders supporter who attended because he “had nothing else to do.”

Loyalty pledges notwithstanding, she points out, “[i]f voters are angry, uninspired, tired of the status quo, and not buying their party's nominee, they usually throw up their hands and stay home.”

Loyalty pledges are not entirely unheard of in American politics, though they seem to have a mixed record of effectiveness. MSNBC’s Maddow Blog claims that President George W. Bush required them at re-election rallies in 2004, and that in 2012, RNC members were forced to pledge their loyalty to Mitt Romney in order to attend a private meeting with the candidate.

“Whether intended this way or not, the practice reeks of McCarthyism,” the blog opined in 2013, “and seems intended to create mindless loyalists who accept commands, rather than thoughtful voters engaged in a healthy democracy.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete