Not only is our rearview now more likely to feature regret and decline, our long-term view of the future is unremittingly grim.
Worse, these negative views are most entrenched amongst the Gen X, Gen Y, and millennial cohorts who will shoulder both the responsibilities and fruits of the future. These outlooks have been getting worse rather than better during the past several years and the sense of up-and-down cycles may be giving way to one of a long-term maelstrom.
To make matters worse, next generations are losing faith not just in the economy, but also in public institutions and democracy.
Some sobering words from the head of Ekos Research.
The question, clearly, is What Do We Do About It? The trends Frank Graves describes are troubling, yes, but they’re also an opportunity to craft a new narrative — one that finds a receptive audience among the very demographic he says is losing faith and tuning out.
Those of us who’ve been struggling with the apparent strength of the Harper Conservatives (I’m leaving aside quibbles about the use of the word for now) should take note: rational and comprehensive research finds much less support for them among the Canadian body politic. In short, despite what their think tanks and captured media transmitters might keep telling us, Canada isn’t necessarily shifting to the right.
The reasons for their apparent electoral showing last May are complicated, and not really susceptible to summarization in a short blog post. But there are several patterns — some short-term, some longer — coalescing in a way that might spell real trouble for them, and by the same token, offer progressive citizens and activists reason to hope — if we approach the task right. The trigger, if I understood Mr. Graves correctly, is in the new awareness of inequality, perhaps best encapsulated by the Occupy movement.
For decades, we’ve been drinking the Kut Kut Koolaid — cut government spending, cut taxes, get government off people’s backs, live within your means, yada yada yada — and the jobs will come, and the prosperity will trickle down, and a rising tide will lift everyone’s boat. Well, as the Occupiers have pointed out, that hasn’t worked out too well for anyone other than the 1 per cent — or even the 0.01 per cent.
Combine that with a real and substantial fear that things are going to get worse instead of better, and you’ve got a genuine opportunity to reframe the conversation and make it about fairness, rather than just manufactured fear and resentment. In this pursuit, however, I’ve been cautioned that facts and evidence matter far less than crafting an emotionally resonant narrative. Not sure how comfortable I am with that, but then when you consider the electoral success the Harper operation’s enjoyed, despite being at odds with the views most Canadians say they hold, well …
More to come on this.
- Conservatism: is it a label? Is it a brand? Or maybe just a little bit more?
- Canadian political scandals and the dangers of false equivalencies | #cdnpoli #robocalls
- Don Drummond’s austerity medicine: suck it, Ontario | #onpoli
- Let’s stop fetishizing “The Market” | #cdnpoli #TOpoli #classwarfare #austerity
- Income inequality, the 99 percent, and the dysfunction of American society | via Esquire | #uspoli #OWS
- More on the #Occupy movement and the failure of current forms of politics, via @pogge411
- How mainstream media is failing Occupy Wall Street