You have probably seen that T-shirt with the words “I’m with Stupid” and an arrow pointing to whoever is walking next to you. Now there’s a new version of that joke online, a satirical response to the US presidential election results that flummoxed the pollsters and shocked the world.
This comparison of the June referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union, AKA Brexit, with last week’s election in the US got me thinking about the role of older voters. Had geezers struck again?
The UK referendum results showed that most young adults voted to remain in the EU while most of their parents and grandparents voted to leave. Resentment against the older generation among British youth has left pensioners standing on the bus.
Did older voters play a similar role in the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton? Media in both the US and the UK saw parallels between the voting in the two countries.
“Trump’s win was a replay of the Brexit vote, when the old bastions of England’s Labor-left voted decisively to leave the EU.”
“(The UK and US campaigns) promised to turn the clock back to a time when white men were in the ascendence, and both were fronted by absurdly privileged buccaneers who style themselves as friends of the working classes while pushing policies that work against them.”
It is no wonder Trump’s support base is disproportionately old, for he will be the oldest president in history when he takes office at 70. His cabinet will be full of old white men. There is little to enthuse young people or women. And definitely not black people.
More than age, it is race that has emerged as the major factor in both the American election and the UK referendum. A higher percentage of white voters supported Trump and Brexit than any other group. The US election results were dubbed a “whitelash” – against America’s multi-racial and multi-ethnic future.
“This was many things. This was a rebellion against the elites, true, it was a complete reinvention of politics… that’s true, but it was also something else. We haven’t talked about race: this was a whitelash — this was a whitelash against a changing country, it was a whitelash against a black president, in part, and that’s the part where the pain comes.
This outcomes of the two polls are being read as a white response to the increasing diversity predicted on both sides of the Atlantic. The US census projects that by 2045 whites will no longer be the majority. This is already the case in hundreds of counties across the US, and the state of California. White Britons will be in the minority in 50 years, according to a prediction from Oxford University.
Many analysts say that it was fears of loss of white privilege in these changing demographics that motivated older white men to vote for Trump and to leave the EU. Many young people in Britain believe Brexit will cost them opportunities in Europe and blame older voters. Resistance to Trump’s presidency has sent young people onto the streets to protest in the US.
Is it time for a hashtag to defend us, like #NotAllOldPeople? Or maybe #GeezersNotGuilty? You can run, but you can’t hide, warns one of America’s top satirists.
“Don’t try to distance yourselves from the ‘bad apples’ and say, ‘It’s not my fault, I didn’t vote for him!’ If Muslims have to take responsibility for every member of their community, so do we.”
Indeed, any time there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, many non-Muslims seem to feel that it is the duty of all Muslims to condemn such acts. By the same token, any time there is a racist attack – or even a “micro-aggression” – it should be incumbent on white people to condemn harassment or violence against black people. Older white people should also be quick to call out racism.
Here’s another link between Trump and Brexit. In a departure from custom, the US and UK are sharing the same newly announced 2016 Word of the Year. Apparently a separate word is usually chosen for the US and UK, but the Oxford Dictionaries said that this year there was one word that “encapsulated a trans-Atlantic phenomenon”.
“Post-truth is an apt choice for countries like America and Britain, where people lived through divisive, populist upheavals that often seemed to prize passion above all else—including facts”.
– Time magazine
Apparently all the social media chatter about Trump and Brexit saw the use of the word rise by 2,000% this year.
Post-truth seems like a word for lies that, confusingly, has the word truth in it. The Economist defines it as “a reliance on assertions that ‘feel true’ but have no basis in fact”. It names the leading exponent of post-truth politics: President-elect Trump.