When political commentators discuss voting blocs, the age of voters is often a key focus. But political commentators don't treat age blocs equally. Here are the narratives we are given:
When old people vote as a bloc, we are told it is out of fear. And the politicians who target them by demagoguing Social Security and Medicare? They are accused of cynically pandering to the fears of elderly voters.
But when young people vote as a bloc, we are told they are simply making their voices heard! It is the beauty of the political process! And the politicians who pander to them by making impossible promises about issues like education? Why, they are simply paving the way for a brighter future! No cynicism here, friends.
I think this is because the media is enamored with the narrative of the 60s youth movement; the narrative that says young people rose up as one warm and fuzzy voice to cuddle a broken nation. So whenever young people appear to be voting as a bloc again, the media always frames it as "a moment."
[Funny, all we ever hear is that today's youth are stupid, lazy, ignorant of history, blah, blah, blah, but when those stupid, lazy youths rise up to force their stupidity, laziness, and ignorance of history on the rest of us via the voting booth, we're supposed to hail this as a wonderful thing.]
Pandering is pandering, whether it is lying to deathbed voters about saving Medicare, or lying to young voters about making education cheaper. In either case, one generation is shifting the cost of its preferences onto another generation. So why does the media present one as "progress" and the other as "fear-based?"
Every move made by every politician is politics, and every promise, no matter how much faux optimism is lacquered on to it, and is designed to get votes from a specific group. And whether the target is old or young, there is always an element of fear:
"Unlike my opponent, I understand the needs of our seniors, which is why I'm going to preserve _____."
"My opponent wants to cut _____. But I know what our young people need to compete in today's global economy, which is why I'm going to invest in _____."
For some reason pandering to the fears of the young doesn't spark accusations of fear-mongering. Maybe politicians should change FDR's phrase to: "The only thing we have to fear is the AARP."