Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Birth year and politics

It's a year old, but I thought this was an interesting piece about birth year and politics:
According to The New York Times, new social science research says that for American whites, the year you were born is strongly predictive of your lifelong political affiliation. Reportedly, what the average American white person experiences between the ages of 14 and 24 has a lot to do with their general political orientation for the rest of their lives. And, “events at age 18 are about three times as powerful as those at age 40, according to the model.”
(The NY Times article in the link explains that this works better for whites as blacks have voted steadily democrat regardless of when they were born.)

I entered my teen years at the ass-end of the 1980s and spent most of my twenties in the 90s. Those were the years of the Berlin Wall coming down, the Oklahoma City bombing, L.A. riots, Bush the first and the Clinton administration. (Clinton was the first president I voted for, way back in 1992 when I was just old enough to vote.) Not tot take away from those things, but the culture of the time largely shaped the way I think. I don't remember the Challenger explosion, but I remember moving a cheap boombox with tin foil on the antenna from room to room trying to pick up the signal from the cool college radio station just outside the city. Books like Douglas Coupland's Generation X and Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero meant more to me than the Iran Contra hearings, as did literary miscreants like Dennis Cooper and Kathy Acker and pre-Nevermind punk and indie rock. There was a lot of underground, which actually was a direct reaction to the politics of the 80s and 90s. This is why I'm so resistant to mandated moralism. Then it came mostly, though not entirely, from the right, so watching my tribe place limits on free speech, and lobby for trigger warnings and safe spaces on college campus is disconcerting. I've noticed that the brunt of complaints from the left on its more authoritarian wing are in their mid-thirties to early fifties, "generation x."

1 comment:

  1. I turned 14 at the beginning of 1968. Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were murdered. Nixon won the election as the "peace candidate." In 1970, Kent State and Jackson State. In 1972, I voted for the first time -- for George McGovern. A year later, Watergate. By the time Reagan was elected, I was 26. Not surprising that I have never been anywhere right of centre and that I too am disconcerted by authoritarian tendencies and thought policing on my side of the political spectrum.