The electoral earthquake that left the British Conservative Party without a majority in Parliament days before beginning negotiations to leave the European Union is a warning for President Trump’s America.
Britain’s Millennial generation, lulled by a decade of relatively quiet politics, failed to turn out for the Brexit referendum last year and were startled when they realized their European future was lost. On Thursday they paid back the older generation in spades, turning out in unprecedented numbers to elect Labor Party candidates.
It was an echo of the Bernie Sanders movement in the United States, and a warning of what could happen to Republican majorities in the House and Senate in 2018.
Because of Brexit, young voters in Britain learned the basic lesson of Democracy: you have to vote. And when American Millennials next have the opportunity to vote, it will be another earthquake.
“We’ve had Trump, we’ve had Brexit, and both were instances where people thought it was never going to happen and didn’t bother to vote. Those surprise results made it more important for people to vote for what they believe in,” said Anthony Wells, director of political and social opinion polling at YouGov, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Some early tremors of this coming earthquake are already being felt:
- Polling shows Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel by seven points in the special election for a Georgia House seat that has been held by Republicans since 1979
- Liberal-leaning cable networks MSNBC and CNN are now leading arch-conservative Fox News for the first time in years
- Less than a third of Millennials of all races approve of President Trump’s performance, according to the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago
- Breitbart, the stridently conservative website once run by White House strategy adviser Steve Bannon, has lost 90 percent of its advertisers
American Millennials never liked Trump or his platform. They favor globalization, appreciate immigrants, like Obamacare and believe climate change is a major problem. They don’t listen to ranting 60-something AM talk show hosts and have probably never watched Fox News.
They’re angry now—just like their counterparts in Britain—because the world they expected was unexpectedly taken from them.
During the campaign, Trump boasted of a populist movement that is “Brexit Times 10.” In 2018, Trump and the Republican party could face an equally dramatic failure.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.