Young People vs Joe Biden

11.26.2020 - By TALKING POLITICS

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This week we talk about race and representation with Cathy Cohen of the GenForward Survey project based in Chicago. What do young Americans want from democratic politics? How do their priorities vary according to race and ethnicity? And can a Biden presidency deliver on the desire for real change? Plus we catch up with Jeevun Sandher and Michael Bankole of the Politics Jam podcast to explore a UK perspective on why young and minority voices find it so hard to be heard.

Talking Points:

We are seeing more racial and ethnic diversity in generations than ever before.
- Young people break for Biden, but for young white men, it was about 50-50.
- In 2012, a plurality of young whites voted for Romney. If we look only at generation we miss part of the story.
- The story about ‘young people’ is being driven by young people of colour.

Does Biden have a problem with young people?
- Many young people voted against Trump rather than for Biden.
- They decided to vote against Trump and organize against Biden.
- What is the best method for achieving racial progress in the US? Young African Americans are pointing to the need for structural change.
- Young people are rejecting the idea that change comes from national-level voting. They are redefining what democratic practice might be.

Young people broadly favor a more expansive state.
- The Biden agenda is more about tweaking at the edges.
- There is going to be a real tension. Will there be the infrastructure to mobilize young people? Can they pressure the administration?
- This generation is highly educated, but they are also precarious. There is an increasing mismatch between the promise of higher education and what it delivers.
- The younger generation is highly indebted because of higher education.

In both the UK and the US, young people haven’t been represented well by the political system.
- There are specific issues that young people want to see addressed, including systemic racism.
- Ethnic differences among young people need to be taken into account in the UK too.
- The political class in the House of Commons is unrepresentative in many ways. It skews old and it skews white.
- Conservatives tend to represent white seats. The First-Past-the-Post system doesn’t incentivize serious engagement with ethnically diverse constituencies.

Mentioned in this episode:
- The GenForward Survey
- The Black Youth Project
- Politics JaM
- Jeevun’s academic profile
- Michael’s academic profile
- Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence
- Thomas Saalfeld on substantive representation

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking
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