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Politics Is Not The Main Thing

The vote in the United Kingdom this week, which greatly weakened Theresa May’s Conservative Party has been blamed on the voting patterns of millennials. They rallied behind Labor by a 34-point margin. One cannot automatically assume that this means that they hold to the Labor party lines. In general, millennials are simply frustrated by politics, its antics, and it’s over weaning self-importance. It’s not as important as the cable news programs would have one believe.

New Copernicans are not political in the same manner in which people think they are political. Shared experiences and relationships among friends mean a lot more to them than ideological purity. This means that one cannot take their voting patterns as an automatic endorsement of a party platform.

I was recently speaking to a group of young people in New York City who are active in Black Lives Matter. On this particular night there were older women attending who were members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist organization. They were friends with the young people and protest cobelligerent in their shared outrage against ongoing police brutality. These older women forcefully presented their orthodox Marxist doctrine, the likes of which I had not heard since graduate school. The women were getting nowhere with these young activists. “We believe that the revolution can happen differently, without violence,” one young activist said with a slight roll of the eyes. New Copernicans are not going to fall into the assumed binaries of left and right, liberal and conservative. Even when they vote, they are not playing the traditional political game. While they tend to be far more progressive than traditional, one cannot assume that they fall neatly into typical party lines.

Ben Shapiro writes in The Daily Wire, “People want meaning. Economics doesn’t provide it. But causes do. Bernie appears to have a cause. So does Corbyn. So does Melanchon. As economists Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw stated in 1998 when it appeared that the global capitalist consensus was unshakeable, “a system that takes the pursuit of self-interest and profit as its guiding light does not necessarily satisfy the yearnings in the human soul for belief and some higher meaning beyond materialism... few people would die with the words ‘free market’ on their lips.”

Does a more communitarian, nay socialist agenda, seem to embrace a greater concern for neighbor? Do conservatives tend to be labeled as the party of “hate”? So why would one be surprised by these idealistic young voting patterns. Rather than jumping to binary political snap judgments, we should listen to the deeper longings reflected in their voting patterns. In the world of Trump, there is a lot that could be said for conservatives needing to tell a better story. At the very least, New Copernicans expose our nearly religious idolatry of politics. It is not the main thing and reality gets distorted when we think it is.

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