A bizarre generational divide has emerged while I’ve been working the streets for the current local council elections.
When you’re handing out for a centre-right party in the Sydney’s Inner West, you expect abuse. When I started a few years ago, old timers told me to take tissues to deal with the spit. The young radical and the middle-aged unionist were the trouble zone. That was what it was like.
It hasn’t been like that for a while, and the responses for this election have been relatively genteel.
But the most vehement rejections and personal attacks have come from grey haired superannuated hippies. And the most vocal positive support? From twenty-something couples.
That’s a real marker of change. Given the whisper that most of GetUp’s activists are 50+ public servants, the generational decline of the basket weavers is about to bite hard.
For years there has been an energy to centre-right volunteers that is completely lacking from Labor or the Greens. Indeed, the Leichhardt Council race is one where the Greens are fighting to retain control, yet they can’t muster street stall support for their candidates.
Despite media support, many signature radical issues are slowly losing their teeth with the electorate. At the same time, grassroots small government groups are emerging.
Out on a limb here: regardless of who is the next US President, the next 15 years will be for small government what the 1960s were for big government.
The asset-rich radicals of the inner city won’t stop that.
Ahem. So I’m being overly optimistic. Probably. But consider, on top of the ageing of the boomers, the following: how it isn’t the same sort of social death for an inner city resident to declare they vote Liberal; the emergence of movements focused on fiscal responsibility; the slow death of overtly left-leaning mainstream media; the overreach of faux-outrage; the decline of AGW catastrophism; the reality-check of fiscal decline; the bad smell of both big unionism and big Green; the reliance of the Left on gotcha and outrage rather than points of policy; the models of failure provided by the US and Europe; the slowly growing voice of an economically pragmatic rather than radical Left.
It won’t emerge unbidden. There is much work to do, unfortunately as much within the Liberal party as without.