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.