Britain has decided to leave the European Union. If what I read is correct the vote had a split similar to current voting patterns in this country. The older Anglos without college degrees in areas of job loss or general economic stress supported leaving the European Union. This is often how Donald Trump supporters are characterized in this country. If that is accurate then the younger voters with higher levels of education either don’t vote or vote differently perhaps for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. These younger voters didn’t just happen. These voters or at least some of them have to be the children of the older voters. Apparently the grandparents, parents and children can’t seem to accept each other’s views. Did the parents send their children to college to develop very different views from their own or was it to provide the children the opportunity for a better life with a more secure future? If so then why are their views so different?
Many older Americans are the children or grand children of immigrants. These people came of age when factory and blue-collar type jobs were abundant. These jobs generally offered stable, long-term employment. Many jobs offered five-day work weeks, good hourly wages, health insurance, pensions and labor union job protection. Their children with more education confront a very different world. How this situation came about and how it has shaped their views is contradictory.
Perhaps some of the older Americans lost their jobs in the late prime of their lives due to the “Great Recession” which began about 2008. In your forties and fifties starting over is a huge problem. Age is an obstacle to re-employment. The so-called outsourcing of jobs eliminated or minimized available jobs. Available jobs became often minimum wage or at least a lower wage job. This hurts your lifestyle, limits retirement plans, and leaves a person without health insurance at the time when it becomes most necessary. Add to that the damaged ego and reduction in self-image, a person who becomes very angry may be created.
Some may be eligible for pensions, unemployment compensation, social security and Medicare which may be their salvation. It will not allow the lifestyle each had known but certainly provides some relief.
The “Great Recession” was probably far beyond their control. Perhaps some had houses beyond their true means but obtained mortgages which were too good to be true and they were. Some businesses closed and jobs were eliminated which probably won’t be recreated or may be at much lower wages. Outsourcing may be more difficult to accept. American Corporations sought to reduce their costs to maximize their profits. How best to do that was to move production off shore thereby reducing hourly wages, eliminating any health insurance costs, no pensions, no unions and governmental oversight such as OSHA (Occupational Safety And Health Administration) requirements. In other words all the gains made by labor unions are eliminated and corporations blame taxation for forcing them to outsource. It is not only bogus but an outright lie and more clearly defined as greed. Whole communities were devastated economically and our so-called leaders, primarily Republicans echo the corporate mantra that “taxes made us do it.” Meanwhile those who benefited most from union programs support and vote for these hypocrites and support efforts to preclude younger people and immigrants from any job protections. These same people go one step further and blame the legal and illegal immigrants for their economic stress and anger. Which immigrant got that great job that should have been yours is the question I would ask and what was that job? The person who got that job is not an immigrant but a resident of a foreign country where the American corporation relocated its production facilities to maximize profits. This is not the blind leading the blind but the elected types who owe their souls to big business PAC’s actually inflaming and reinforcing this anger with inflammatory and often false rhetoric. This is not leadership but deceit for self-preservation by members of Congress, governors, state legislators, etc. who want to stay in public office for the sake of power and money.
The children of these same angry people go to school, take on substantial debt, seek jobs with a future and hold a different view. These people have a right to be angry or to feel left out of the world they believed was before them. Rather than seek someone to blame, they believe that together we can all get on track and re-create a better life. Maybe in terms of age youth sees hope, the elderly see despair. I believe the Bible says old men dream young men see visions. These older citizens worked hard, fought wars, and took their children under their wings to lift them to a better life. These elders soared high and tried to create a better life for themselves but in later years had their wings clipped unexpectedly. However their children believed what their parents had told them and believed that they too could soar like eagles. This is a belief many cling to while their seniors seek a different less lofty flight, one of seeking someone to blame while claiming a justification by being angry.
We need visionaries voting and talking and seeking public office. Take your anger and sit down. The system has been good to you but the system has changed. The factory is gone and it is a global world. Britain will find that out now. If you can not step up and get on board then step aside. Trying to take our country back to a world that has changed and expanded or to some mythical concept in time is the wrong direction. That is the case for Britain and for those who support the nonsensical rhetoric of the likes of a Boris Johnson and a Donald Trump.
Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick also wrote poems of the Civil War. In one such poem he states words to the effect “senior wisdom suits not now, the light falls on the youthful brow.” The older people in this great country helped to make it great. It still is great despite the silly rhetoric, spread your wings to fly again.
Open your eyes, listen to your children and think about how you got where you are. As a final note next time you go shopping, forget the cheapest price and buy something made in the USA, if you can find it.