Something interesting has emerged in voting patterns on both sides of the Atlantic: young people are voting in ways that are markedly different from their elders. A great divide appears to have opened up, based not so much on income, education or gender, as on the voters’ generation.
.. Older upper-middle-class Americans and Europeans have had a good life. When they entered the labour force, well-compensated jobs were waiting for them. The question they asked was what they wanted to do, not how long they would have to live with their parents before they got a job that enabled them to move out.
.. They may have made more on capital gains on their homes than from working.
.. In short, today’s young people view the world through the lens of intergenerational fairness.
.. The sense of social injustice – that the economic game is rigged – is enhanced as they see the bankers who brought on the financial crisis, the cause of the economy’s continuing malaise, walk away with mega-bonuses, with almost no one being held accountable for their wrongdoing. Massive fraud was committed, but somehow, no one actually perpetrated it. Political elites promised that “reforms” would bring unprecedented prosperity. And they did, but only for the top 1%. Everyone else, including the young, got unprecedented insecurity.
.. These three realities – social injustice on an unprecedented scale, massive inequities, and a loss of trust in elites – define our political moment, and rightly so.
.. More of the same is not an answer. That is why the centre-left and centre-right parties in Europe are losing.