Politics and the generational divide

Politics and the generational divide

by Pininvest Analysis

Index - global Europe ETFs on pininvest.com

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Should old politicians decide when the future of younger generations is at stake…?

There cannot be a definitive answer to the question, be it for occasional domestic issues or regarding choices driving societies to a breaking point, such as the British vote to leave the European Union does

The story line sounds familiar

By a smallish majority, voters decide to stride into the unknown, initially driven by a band of opinionated politicians and supportive media outlets

Negativity being a powerful drug, easy to convey in its simplistic assertions, political reversals on carefully constructed compromises are staged as major advances

Because future plans are oh-so carefully written out of the story line, because indeed long term policies may sacrifice immediate benefits for later advantage, it makes sense to take all the chips of the table and walk away a winner

Except for one thing - who are today’s winners and who are tomorrow’s losers? -  and the answer should be clear...there is no need to spell it out again...


Worth considering however are the tactics open to political parties – or to whole countries – sharing the ‘poker table’ with players determined to break the bank, come hell or high water

Simply stated, it is worth remembering that the ‘players’ of our fictional ‘poker game’ will be sitting at that table for generations to come

The huffing and puffing of each player in turn counts for nothing over a 100 years and all will still be present, sharing acrimony and good times

In fact, the grabbing of short-sighed ‘advantages’ is nothing new and every country has been getting away with it at some point because – perhaps – poker was mostly about backroom dealing… This observation is not meant negatively : complex issues do need complicated arrangements, some for immediate benefit and some with a much longer view

But backroom deals are out of favor today: the age of ‘transparency’ requires a fair explanation of the stakes and easy access to information adds new urgency to the need to communicate

As ambitious as it sounds, the communication about complex policies is indeed an effort for the long haul but – with much more immediacy – it is a chink in the armor of short-sighted players

In the European Union negotiation with Great Britain of our initial comment, symbols should lay the psychological groundwork of transparent communication…but they do not very much (yet)

  • An EU program called ‘European Capital of Culture’ launched in 1985 has been quite successful in shining the light on the rich diversity of the cultural heritage in Europe. Barring British cities from the selection process in November ’17 for years to come has been a low point for the European Commission and a political black mark

Let us remind penny pinchers in the Commission – and their political masters – that symbols matter (and that the candidates - Belfast, Dundee, Leeds, Milton Keynes and Nottingham – are European cities)

More symbols – and opportunities to state European ideals forcefully in acts, not by paying mere lip service – could put the lie to dishonest assertions regarding ‘Brussels’

  • Free cross-border train travel of young people, supported by the Union, has been successfully initiated. British youth should not be excluded in the future but, on the contrary encouraged
  • Europe has initiated a very successful program of cross border university student exchange, called Erasmus. Could a generous offer to guarantee coverage of UK universities be the straw breaking the camel’s – and Brexit’s - back?

To answer the question raised by the title of this article, yes – older politicians have to take decisions for future generations but to carry weight and to lay the groundwork for civil dialogue in the country, the symbolism of their choices has to be strained of any dross, and with much clarity and conviction, symbols need to be shared and repeated, and repeated over again

Raising implicitly the issue for both parties on the US political scene, Republicans and Democrats - do they truly consider symbols to have a meaningful purpose in politics… should they not?