Vi Hart's statistical perspective on the American electoral divide

It’s a dismissive, patronizing statement made by people who were conservative at 25.


Dismissive, patronizing statements are not limited to conservatives at all. I don’t agree with the quote, but it’s a comment on a generalisation that older people tend to be more conservative that was considered valid enough for a century. The boomers were voting for the Democratic candidates when they were in their 20s, and this was a comment about them in the 70s:

Their role in issues like civil rights, Vietnam and the environment is as current as today’s headlines. Through their active social involvement and their participation in programs like the Peace Corps and Vista, our youth have taken the lead on many important questions at home and overseas. In hundreds of respects, they have set a far-reaching example of insight and commitment for us to emulate.

On the other hand, apparently part of this is that older Boomers have consistently been more left leaning than younger Boomers and older Gen X. Meanwhile, the Greatest generation was more Democratic leaning than their children and younger Millennials tend to be less so than older Millennials. This trend may not be of people getting more conservative as they age, but rather general voting patterns in different generations.

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I think I must be Benjamin Button. I’m going the other way.

(but moving to the US is probably what has made me increasingly lefty)


I am too (although I’m not 35 yet). I imagine that the trend for a whole generation has some connection with the politics as you approach 20 (for me, it was just before 9/11) and the economic opportunities in your late teens and early 20s (not great). I’m not sure how to account for the apparent trend reversal among young Millennials, although it could just be that they didn’t have such a strong memory of the GWB years, and the tendency to blame difficult times on the current president, even if the Hope campaign was strong partly because people didn’t have much hope for the economy over the next decade.


It might be that people are relatively fixed in their views by the time they are 30-ish and the world keeps changing. A lot of these old racists were racist when they were 30 too, it’s just that when they were 30 being as racist as they are now was pretty acceptable in polite society.

If Trumpism becomes the new norm then 50 years from now maybe old people will be appalled by the level of racism in society and want to bring us back to the glory days of the 20-oughts. It’s just that usually, hopefully, we are marching towards better rather than worse things, hence:

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It is also often (wrongly) attributed to Winston Churchill, who was a Conservative at 25, a Liberal from about age 30 until 50 and was one of the people responsible for starting that parties switch from economic liberalism (similar to libertarian-capitalism) to social liberalism (what the US calls liberal now)

I’m just past 35, and have gone from the left wing of Labour when I was in my teens, to just about on the parliamentary side of the anarcho-communist borderline.

Some days I really question whether I shouldn’t be crossing that line though.


Voter ID laws are a brilliant redirect by people who want to reduce the number of people voting. It sounds so reasonable: you need an id to buy alcohol, or open a bank account, so why not for voting. However by making a state issued drivers license the only acceptable form of ID and then making it difficult to obtain one, you make it harder to actually vote. Getting a state issued ID for someone who is poor, has to work during the hours the office is open, or lives far away from an ID office erects another hurdle on the way to the voting place. There are also reports of huge purges of voter rolls.

There are also many reports of reduced polling locations, limited machines, long lines, and “malfunctions” in predominately democratic districts, while neighboring districts have no such problems.

What is especially insidious about all of this is that the federal government is remiss in enforcing voting rights and the media could care less. In the end the cheaters are getting away with it and no one seems to care.

There are all of these different narratives of why Trump won; People didn’t like Clinton, all of his free media coverage, people wanted a change, Clinton’s campaign sucked etc. This is all BS. Trump and the republicans won because they were able to get away with rigging the electoral system in their favor. Full stop.


Thanks Kabochache!

It seems so obviously wrong to have such strict limits on what constitutes ID. And the results of gerrymandering produce electoral maps that are downright farcical. As an outsider, it’s very confusing.

Y’all (or is it all’y’all?) should try to get elections simplified. We tend to get the campaigning done in 8 weeks or so (we get antsy if it goes on much longer than that… letters get sent to editors!). Simple paper ballot, cardboard screen to make it private, ID required but damn near everything counts as ID.

Here’s another thing that confuses me…long lines at polling stations? In 35 years of voting, I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes to vote. I know there’s 10x more of you down there, but this should be easily handled by correspondingly more polling stations. But I suspect this is just another way to suppress votes?

I acknowledge our elections are much simpler; we rarely have more that a couple of choices to make (plebiscites are very rare), and we have had some problems (robo calls misdirecting people to incorrect polling stations, for instance), and we do have some of the same “first past the post” problems, and our smallest provinces get more than their fair share of seats, etc.

Another big difference: we don’t really know when the next election will be unless the sitting government goes full term. Contrast that with your “every 4 years like clockwork” schedule. I wonder what effects that has on the whole process…

My maternal grandparents who raised me got increasingly less conservative as they got older. They went from being anti-birth control Catholics to feeling like the law shouldn’t try to heavily restrict abortion.

They were pro civil rights including gay rights. I don’t think they would have considered gay marriage a possibility when young, but my grandmother was overjoyed to see her son get to marry his long term partner.

Granted they were always fans of the New Deal so economically they did just stay consistent. They liked strong social safety nets as long as you didn’t really call it communist. Austerity and trickle down made them hopping mad.

My grandmother is very displeased with the last election, she was a huge fan of Obama.

I also feel that I’ve opened up as I got older even starting from a progressive place . I expect to become further open as the world changes.


I tend to be less optimistic about the future, especially as people have very ideologically biased sources online that polarise opinion and lead to people not even agreeing on the basic facts. Normally I’d have thought that Trump is likely to do such a bad job of the next four years that his term would galvanise support for a more liberal candidate, but now I’m not so sure.

I think the first time I heard that quote was from a conservative when I commented that I wasn’t convinced by many of the conservative arguments anymore. I think his point was something like that the worst thing is to be a convinced conservative all your life – if you aren’t drawn to liberal arguments and concern for minorities when you are young, and therefore shaken in your conservative perspective, you have no heart. Of course almost everyone thinks that the view they end up with is more reasonable than the ones they had before (or else they wouldn’t hold it), and in his view the liberal arguments were not as successful in practice (e.g. he felt that some policies rewarded failure rather than providing a way for people to thrive, or that many of the ideas were too idealistic and didn’t take human nature into account). I guess the idea was that there should be a synthesis of ideologies and you should look beyond easy solutions, not that being a liberal was stupid.

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Look at it this way, though: People always surrounded themselves in a bubble and only paid attention to ideas that agreed with them, it’s just that the bubble was the local community and anyone who didn’t agree with it just had to keep their mouth shut or suffer consequences. The internet hasn’t given rise to the living-in-a-bubble movement, it’s just allowed minorities to participate in it.


I guess as long as it’s clear that minorities include conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and others, that’s fine. Some regulation by the community can be a good thing.

Fair enough. I do hate free speech. (I thought about how I could convey that I mean that last sentence in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way but not actually as sarcasm because I don’t mean to imply you are proposing undue limits on free speech and I do actually think that in general enumerating free speech as a specific right does more harm than good but because my views of free speech are so outsider there was no way to do it other than a sentence so long-winded that it would hard to take it as anything but literal but the sentence itself felt like such an essential expression of my real views that I didn’t want to modify it despite the fact that I knew it was unlikely to be received the way it was intended making it lousy communication)

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That’s not going to fix things, just false hope.

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and that comparison is a different definition of conservative than the reactionary right that is called that today.
it was conservative in the sense that change is not a bad thing just you don’t test the pool depth by jumping in head first so wanting a slower measured change over a complete upheaval of everything.


Sure, the Democrats were going to do the right things, but for all the wrong reasons!

What we need is a Republican party that tells us we’re great, the new types are bad, and takes away all the important services for our own good.


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