Christopher Hitchens, situating himself in Political Time, once quipped that he was “young enough to have been Old Labour and old enough to have been New Left.”
That era aligns with what could be described as the twilight years of the post-World War II Left…both in the US and the UK, a period running (roughly) from 1964 to 1980. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the first election of Harold Wilson to the premiership were early, and defining, events within this epoch; the collapse of the New Deal coalition and the Winter of Discontent effectively closed out that period.
Perhaps we are now in the waning days of the neoliberal consensus which dominated much of our politics in the 1990s, 2000s, and early-to-mid 2010s. The Great Recession did not unmoor us from the fundamental politico-economic thinking that was accepted by the Administrations of Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43 and (by and large) Obama…and by the Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, and May ministries. While there were important policy differences between each of those governments, the Reagan and Thatcher umbras and penumbras (and the forces that strengthened them) were deep and enduring.
In recent years, we have seen the alarming rise of ethno-nationalism, which was always present in many right-wing circles. We have also witnessed the encouraging ascent of those who embrace multiculturalism and favor greater economic democracy. How will our politics be defined in the final months of the 10s, the 2020s, and beyond? Our actions today can help determine the contours and substance of our tomorrows.
In American history, political ages tend to be defined by the outcomes of Meaningful Presidential Elections: 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932, 1960, 1968, 1980, 1992, and 2008 leap to mind. Rarely are mid-terms deemed to be that consequential and/or portent/promise-filled…in the “modern era:” 1966, 1974, 1994 definitely, and perhaps 2006.
Before long, we may learn if 2018 will mark the beginning of a new Political Age, perhaps the electorate will bring to full flower what appears to be the still-inchoate stirrings of a realignment.
We shall see soon enough.
One prediction: Ball - 50.5% - Kittleman 49.4% (Other 0.1%). It is going to be very close. Please vote. Thank you.