The Disaffected 50-somethings

This little cub is pleased to have been invited to join the big bears with some posts.

I’m not an economist, but an accountant/consultant/educator/writer with a passionate interest in certain economic topics, as my name would indicate.

So, here goes………..

Being in my mid-50s, many of my friends are also in a 45 – 60 age group, both blue collar and white collar middle managers and professionals. I also have had many mentors who are now older than 65, most of them comfortably retired.

Many of the 50-somethings had not completed their working lives as cleanly as those over 65. Many have been downsized, forced into “voluntary” early retirement, seen their jobs off-shored and had similar major bumps in the economic road. As best I can see, none will ever completely recover, although none are destitute either.

I’ve had a few bumps myself, but due to an unconventional career I have been able to work in several different areas as supply and demand waned and age became an issue.

The economics behind worker displacement have been well discussed here and other blogs (DeLong, Thoma, AB, etc.), but I’ve been wondering about political impacts. Are there any? Will 50-somethings fuel a new populism?

My friends tend to be culturally and fiscally conservative, but are not automatically Republicans. Many are plainly conservative but not openly partisan.

The economic distress here can be traced to NAFTA and Rubin-o-nomics, but the tsunami really did not hit until the recession of 2000-2001, and many have had tough times since.

So I believe much 50-something anger will be directed at the Republican Party, due to a combination of policy and arrogance. Bush’s timing was bad, and the Bush record on displaced workers, income inequality and etc. has not been so good. The arrogance is obvious.

My educated guess is the 50-somethings are regular voters and generally involved citizens, and I can’t help but think some straight ticket GOP voters will change voting habits.

The 2006 elections in Ohio may be an indicator. After a 16 year stranglehold on state government the GOP was trounced. Some of this was due to corruption, but much was due to a saggy economy.

So what do all of you think? Will economic dislocation change voting patterns? Enough to matter? Will there be 50-something populism?