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Why Sanders’ endorsement probably won’t help Hillary Clinton with millennials

Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
Carlos Allegri | Reuters
Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

As the nation lies glued to their televisions and iPhones to watch the horror of two more African Americans shot and killed by police—followed by what seemed like a professional hit job that killed five Dallas police officers—the tremors of Hillary Clinton's political earthquake have dwindled by default.

But the aftershock won't go quietly into the night.

Republicans, who up until now became famous for dog and pony show investigations like Benghazi, actually had a strong leg to stand on in their hearing with FBI Director James Comey Thursday, grilling him on blatant inconsistencies and contradictions layered into his decision not to indict the former Secretary of State for sharing classified information on a private email server.

She was "extremely careless; I think she was negligent," he said to Republican and Democratic lawmakers—but apparently not grossly negligent enough to be prosecuted.

Would anyone not named Hillary Clinton get the same benefit of every doubt?

As Attorney and Assistant Professor at University of New Hampshire Seth Abramson wrote, "The issue for Comey wasn't that Clinton hadn't committed any federal crimes, but that in his personal opinion the chief federal felony statute Clinton violated has been too rarely applied for him to feel comfortable applying it to Clinton."

All of this paints a clear picture: that people in Clinton's power bracket are above the law compared with average citizens without bankers, lobbyists, and other corporate lawmakers in their corner.

And that helps Donald Trump—the candidate representing the exploding anti-establishment, anti-corruption voting bloc filled with a mix of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and millennials.

"The choice between an unorthodox candidate who makes them believe their situation can be better, and an above the law symbol of everything that's keeping them down, is powerful."

Sure, Trump might be falsely playing the part of an outsider against corruption. In reality he's as much an insider and benefactor of corruption as any other elected official. But he's sold millions of Americans by playing a fire-breathing populist who'll untangle the rigged political web Clinton helped create.

For low-information voters who've not been glued to politics for a year like myself and many of you, who's just tuning in a few months before Election Day—who's going to sound more appealing?

A woman you've been exposed to for 30 years, with many negative connotations to boot; most recently having potentially lied about sending classified material from a cockamamie basement home server, who is called "crooked" from opponents and untrustworthy from members of her own party?

Or, by the optics, a successful businessman tapping into your frustration with your frozen or declining wages, increased work hours, crummy or non-existent healthcare, and general cynicism toward the politicians who are supposedly representing you.

With all his unforced errors, many of which have been blatantly racist and xenophobic, Trump is down just 4.7 percent in the RealClearPolitics general election average.

He'll likely score record lows among Latinos and do poorly among African Americans. But he's also likely to do very well among working class whites in all-important Rust-Belt states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, which are also crucial swing states.

Ultimately, like most elections, independent voters and millennials may play a deciding role. What will be crucial will be the rate at which the latter turns out for Clinton.

Yes, Bernie Sanders is likely to endorse Clinton; reportedly as soon as Tuesday. Despite the power and influence he wields among millions of supporters—even a towering progressive figure like Sanders playing the broader political game of stopping Trump will struggle to endear Hillary Clinton to millions of young people who simply don't trust her, and in many cases, don't like what she stands for.

I've met and spoken to thousands of them along the campaign trail; they certainly don't like Trump, but their disdain for Clinton is visible from the moment her name is mentioned in a question.

That kind of opposition doesn't magically disappear in response to a Sanders endorsement, or out-of-touch TV and digital pundits telling them what's good for them, or a few months to cool off before November.

And for the broader electorate, the choice between an unorthodox candidate who makes them believe their situation can be better, and an above the law symbol of everything that's keeping them down, is powerful.

By dodging indictment, Clinton avoided jail. But the negative connotations many Americans bring away from it, and how craftily Donald Trump can make the crooked label stick, may just deprive her of The White House.

Commentary by Jordan Chariton, a political reporter for The Young Turks, reporting on the presidential campaign trail. He can be seen on TYT Politics. Before TYT, Jordan was a reporter for TheWrap and TVNewser. Follow him on Twitter @JordanChariton.

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