(loose translation of article by Jeffrey Sachs, Project Syndicate, ‘Millennials will end Trump era’)
The fundamental political division in the United States does not run over the lines of party or state borders. Millennials generation (between 18 and 35 years of age) in the vast majority voted against Trump and will constitute the core of opposition to his policies.
Older Americans are divided, but the base electoral for Trump is the age group 45+. Younger voters reject Trump at every level, seeing his policy as a thing of the past.
Of course, we’re talking about the average results, but the numbers clearly show the generational divide. Trump got 53% of votes in the group 45+, 42% in the age group 30-44 and only 37% of votes in the group 18-29 years. In a study of 2014 years 31% people from millennial generation identified themselves as liberal, compared to 21% of baby boomers (age 50-68) and 18% of so-called: ‘silent generation’ (over 69 years).
Millennial generation is much more liberal than the previous generation of youth. Millennials are also less attached to party divisions and ready to vote for politicians who respond to their needs and represent specific values, including candidates from outside of two largest parties.
You can see at least three major political differences between the younger and older generation of voters. First, young people are much more socially liberal. For them, the fact that America is becoming more diverse racially, religiously and in terms of sexual preference, is not a problem. Diverse society in which whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and immigrants live side by side is the norm for them. They accept the various groups and gender minorities – lesbians, gays, trans, bi, inter- and orientations that for the generation of their grandparents (age of Trump) were taboo or were completely unknown.
The second issue: young Americans measure the current unprecedented economic challenges, resulting from the technological revolution. They enter the labor market at a time, when returns on capital are rising rapidly (primarily labor income robots, artificial intelligence and thinking machines) and gains from work are falling. Wealthy older people are getting richer, because as shareholders they benefit from the current changes.
Trump taxes cuts for corporations and real estate, which will make rich seniors even richer (therefore this generation is so strongly represented in his office). The result of these measures will increase the budget deficit, which also hit young generation. In fact millennials need exactly the opposite policy: higher taxes on capital, which is in the hands of the oldest generation to be able to finance higher education and vocational training, the necessary infrastructure for renewable energy and other key investments for the future of the country.
The third difference – compared to their parents and grandparents – young Americans are much more aware of the dangers of climate change. Trump deceive generation of seniors by announcing further investments in fossil fuels, but it will not convince youth: they want clean energy and will oppose the further destruction of the planet, which will be inherited by their own children.
The generational division against global warming is largely due to ignorance of the older generation in the field of climate change and its causes. Older Americans never learned about climate change in the school; never got to know the elementary facts about greenhouse gases. Therefore, they look at their short-term profits without looking at the tragic consequences that their grandchildren will bear.
In the survey of June 2015 60% of respondents in the age group 18-29 answered that global warming is due to human activity, and in the age group 65+ this answer was given by only 31%. The survey of January shows that 38% respondents aged above 65 years supports the exploitation of fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy; with this statement just 19% respondents aged 18-29 have agreed.
Trump’s economic policy is therefore focused on a group of white, older voters, who were born in America. New tax cuts for the older generation, will increase the debt of the younger generation. The current student debt, amounting trillion dollars does not make any impression on current president. Trump resume debate around NAFTA and free trade rather than dealing with significant problems of the XXIc as a gigantic threat to jobs based on advances in artificial intelligence. He’ll try to squeeze a few more years, the profits of US coal, oil and gas reserves – for the price of a future disaster.
Trump’s views are mirroring his age. At 70 years Trump is the oldest president sworn in (even Ronald Reagan was younger when he took office in 1981). But age is not the main factor here. Bernie Sanders, undoubtedly the most recent candidate in the election of 2016 and the hero in the eyes of millennials, is 75 years old.
A key factor is the way of thinking and political orientation, not the age. Among all presidents from the last few decades time, Trump has the shortest horizon. He has no clue about the real challenges of the Young Generation, which must deal with new technologies, gigantic changes in the job market, a huge student debt. Trade war with Mexico and China or ban on immigration from Muslim countries do not respond to their needs.
Success of Trump is ‘an accident at work’, NOT a turning point. The future-oriented millennial generations will soon dominate American policy. America will be multiethnic, socially liberal, aware of climate hazards and adopting more equitable distribution of wealth generated by new technologies.
Too many observers will focus exclusively on the traditional divisions in the US Congress, ignoring the deeper demographic segments that will soon be decisive. Sanders almost gained Democrats nomination (and most likely win the presidential election), thanks to the force with which he influenced the youngest voters. Their coming era will probably come as early as year 2020 in the candidate they will see most suitable to meet their vision of future America.
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