Voters cut adrift from a politics lacking in sex and identity?

Nice piece in the FT over the weekend by Simon Kuper on the end of identity [Nat here mate – Ed]:

The shift from identity politics to economics was a long time brewing. It happened partly because the 1960s ended and the social liberals won, and partly because voters finally stopped expecting politicians to be role models. However, the shift was sealed on September 15 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed. John McCain had then already become the Republican nominee, largely because he had been tortured in Vietnam and was therefore felt to embody American manliness. He had never pretended to understand economics. Post-Lehman, economics were suddenly decisive. McCain lost the election.

From which Kuper comes to the following conclusion..

Voting on economic issues sounds grown-up. Unfortunately, voters aren’t equipped to do it. One great thing about oral sex is that everyone has an opinion about it. But now voters are trying to judge matters that baffle even professional economists. Does the UK need to pay down its debt so quickly? Does the US need a fiscal stimulus? Do Greeks need the euro? Ruling elites often complicate issues further by deliberately using incomprehensible language. For instance, talk of a Greek “debt restructuring” is meant to hide the fact that the Germans, Dutch and Finns would have to hand over their savings.

Voters are left having to make blind choices. They don’t even have economic heroes to use as guides, because erstwhile heroes such as Alan Greenspan and Gordon Brown fell in the crisis. It’s all a muddle. If only we could still argue about Monica Lewinsky.

  • Jud

    I’m not sure the general public are as ill informed as is suggested.
    Certainly more and more people are taking an interest in macro-economics and Geo-politics as this crisis has unfolded.

    I do believe our elites have deliberately contrived to make important topics as inaccessible and incomprehensible as possible, but that does not mean at their root they are not understood by the public. I think what’s more accurate is people have chosen (in relatively good times) to ignore seemingly distant or boring subject matter, but the learning curve has been fast.

    We have evolved a very strong (and unhealthy) respect for authority, where massively important decisions have been left to self appointed experts who we can only hope have our best interests at heart.

    In good times this is fine, but when the crunch came to Ireland for example, the Finance Minister was a Barrister who had to rely on ‘advice’ and guesswork to make sovereignty grade decisions.

    We are approaching the point (if we haven’t already passed it) where the electorate are well ahead of the politicos.

  • “They” certainly have done their best to confuse us. Quantitative easing is, essentially, printing money no matter how it is dressed up. And we know where that leads to.

  • aquifer

    The bankers placed a clever bet.

    If we win, we win
    and if we lose, you pay

    And you wanted to win too, so there is nothing you can say.

  • FuturePhysicist

    “They” certainly have done their best to confuse us. Quantitative easing is, essentially, printing money no matter how it is dressed up. And we know where that leads to.

    QE doesn’t necessarily lead to hyperinflation, inflation yes but it’s just one mechanism to deal with a crisis whn you do not have a fixed currency.

    When people talk about the Euro, saying Greece and others should have the power to lower the price of their currency rather than have it fixed to the Euro, essentially they say that Greece, should probably default and then should resort to QE themselves if they leave the Eurozone… how would they be any better off?

    They’d still have the huge debt, they’d still have no more bailouts.

  • During the late 1970s and 1980s, Margaret Thatcher tried hard to “educate” voters by constantly re-emphasising the need for good housekeeping and balancing the books.

    Making ends meet with a money budget is a concept which anybody can understand. I would suggest that the real problem is not that people dont understand economics. It is the fact that they ignore the basics and think only of themselves.

    A person will vote, not where he sees the national interest, but according to self interest. He may agree that cutting spending is the right thing to do but because he is employed by a quango, surplus to national requirements which faces the axe, he will be influenced to vote for the party which promises to save his job.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The problem we have here is a disengaged media who have strange and unpopular ideas around politics.

    Voter apathy does surround real issues, the media would love to play up the selective interest community where gender and identity politics are the be all and end all of modern day political apathy.

    There is a back-logic that suggests that if true, then the prominence of these issues has faded in correlation with the decline in voter turnout.

    The reality is perhaps the new age media are more uncertain about their own identity and sexuality politics they look for role models in the strangest of places, rather than dealing with the cynicism around the government’s capacity to create jobs.