We are living through a period when the politics of outrage is all the rage. When large portions of the populace across the western world yearn – and sometimes even vote – for politicians who try and push the “Overton window” either to the left or right. Nigel Farage, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump – all very different people who nonetheless fit this description. The non-establishment candidates who tell it like it is; those who bellow that “politics as usual” cannot continue. But while they all argue for very disparate ways of deviating from the norm, the do all share one thing in common: they are all white men over the age of 50.
Now, I don’t have a problem with old white guys – I’m going to be one some day myself. But I do find it odd that there has been no iconoclastic politician who has made waves who is black or Asian (Obama is centrism personified; Sadiq Khan is the ultimate career politician) – or God forbid, a woman (Hilary is so anti-anti-establishment it’s mind-blowing). In fact, there is actually a convenient exception that proves the rule – Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is the patron saint of old grouchy white blokes. All of this is amazing, particularly at a time when identity politics is so important, particularly to those who wish to change the way things are more than most.
The “revolution”, such as it’s been, has also been dominated by older men who are also from upper-middle class backgrounds. Farage was a banker before going into politics; Corbyn is from your classic upper-middle class Marxist family; Trump was born into millions. Yet, all of them speak without self-awareness when it comes to apparently being the ideal people to stand up for working-class interests (except Farage, to be fair, who always whizzes past that stuff in order to get back onto his usual spiel regarding immigrants clogging up motorways).
Weirdly, I’m sort of not complaining about this fact, but rather celebrating it – it would scare me so much more if anti-politics were being led by the young, dynamic and multi-cultural. It would demonstrate something lasting was coming our way that may not be all that great. But perhaps I should be less cynical and look at this whole phenomenon from the opposite angle: maybe if anti-politics had some young (or youngish at least) figureheads, it would be espousing something positive and inspirational as opposed to wishing for a rerun of Thatcher-Scargill battles, or building walls along national borders, or wanting to be out of the European single market just because.
Perhaps instead of feeling good about the aged and infirm “revolution” in our midst, pleased that it looks destined to die out some day soon (literally), I should be wishing that the agents of change really were charged with the vigour and optimism of youth.
Anyway, for now I will have to suffer through the Age of Angry Middle-Class Men and hope to see you all on the other side.