The oncoming generational UK and US political tsunamis
The oncoming generational UK and US political tsunamis
No big economic news today, so let me put up a couple of striking charts about the UK election last week.
First, the change in party results in 2019 (left) vs. 2017 (right) in millions:
Labour: 10.3. 12.9 (a 20% decline!)
Lib Dems: 3.7 2.4
SNP: 1.2 1.0
Total turnout was down 1.5%. As should be obvious, as the accompanying commentary said, the Tories didn’t win; Labour lost, and terribly. Apparently having a leader (Jeremy Corbyn) with a -44% approval rating, and no substantive position at all on the most important issue in decades, Brexit, was a loser. Hoocoodanode?!?
Second – and this is really stunning – which party won seats based on age group:
The conservatives won precisely *zero* seats among the youngest voters.
Meanwhile Labour won only 32 seats among the oldest.
More generally, there was a Labour landslide among voters under 50. But an even larger Conservative landslide among voters 50 and older. One caveat: I don’t know the source for this information, because voting is of course anonymous. Probably the information comes from exit polls, so take with a few grains of salt.
Since people tend to form their basic political ideologies in their later teens or early twenties, at some point – probably within the next 10 years – there is likely to be a political tsunami in the UK sweeping away right wing economic policies.
That made me go look for a similar breakdown of the 2018 US Congressional elections. The below graph is the closest thing I found:
Interesting that the inflection point seems to be at age 50 in the US as well. People who formed their political views in the Reagan era or earlier in the US, and the Thatcher era and earlier in the UK, skewed conservative, while those whose views were formed later skewed to the left.
In the UK, the immediate risk is that the union itself ruptures, with Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland as well leaving. In the US, the risk is a rupture of the Constitutional fabric, by way of heightened mutual “hardball” and political violence, and a significant chance of a slide into Presidential autocracy.
Interesting post. I would be very interested to see data from other countries. In particular, is the generational divide as sharp in Scandinavia? In more social democratic countries? Or is it mostly a reaction to more neoliberal policies?
I am an old guy whose ideology was formulated during the Johnson and Nixon presidencies and I have stuck to it more or less but I wonder how much is attributable to the Churchill observation along the lines of “ a young man who does not vote labor has no heart and an old man who does not vote Tory has no brain”. The very essence of being conservative is to yearn for a romanticized past, something that aging brains are wont to do. Then too so many of the issues facing young voters really do not mean much to older voters unless it is for love of their children and grandchildren—climate change, gun violence, a woman’s control of her body, endless wars, deficit spending and mounting debt during times of full employment, alliances like NATO, and ultimately the loss of our democracy. None of this stuff matters very much to people who worry about how they will die and if they will have enough money to get there. It should matter a great deal to people who have 50 or 60 years of life in this country ahead of them, but unfortunately too many of them will not put forth the effort to vote.
At age 71.1 I will never vote for the GOP: Party of Hate®.
The first election I can remember is wearing my “I like Ike” button.
I voted for many Republicans in my younger days. But, they were reasonable people such as Nelson Rockefeller and Ed Brooke.
I think we should have age-weighted voting. It is time for the Boomers to exit the stage and let the Xers and Yers take over.
The best estimates for climate-change induced sealevel rise indicate that most of civilization will be below sea level in thirty years, meaning that any leftward-leaning generation will have the dubious honor of presiding over–and being blamed for–a collapse of civilization that is already too late to stop.
The boomers have succeeded in their quest to pull up the ladder on their descendants and leave them with nothing.
As for the nearer term, the US is facing constitutional failure because the Republicans have waged a thirty year war to strip non-conservatives of their political rights and the only response from Democrats and civil society has been to preemptively surrender.
Democracy has died in America because the Democrats did not appreciate that the Republican project to use the Confederate states to seize permanent power for the minority posed an existential threat to democracy. They made no effort to use hardball to strip the Confederate bootlickers of their power while it was possible and now it is too late to do anything about the conversion of America into a southern-style plantation.
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> alliances like NATO, and ultimately the loss of our democracy
Changes might be coming, but Republicans and Clinton faction of Dems are now fully prepared to resist those changes tooth and nail.
Neoliberal Dems just invented the template for deposing or, at least, paralyzing any future antiwar president. Via vote of non-confidence mechanism, which essentially what House impeachment “investigation” was about.
You can always find another Fiona Hill, or Alexander Vindman or a half-dozen State Department neocon hawks (where in some cases it was unclear who is their real employee ) , or find another jingoistic and complexly detached from reality professor like Karlan, to support this action. Neocons feed from threat inflation. And money from MIC doesn’t smell.
The problems with the current impeachment goes far deeper then Trump. It is a change of the constitutional system converting it closer to the UK model.