Editor's Note: Below is a brief excerpt from an institutional research note written by Hedgeye Demography Sector head Neil Howe. This is the first of several pieces he is writing about the election. To access our institutional research email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me say at the outset that I get a lot of questions from readers about how Clinton v Trump fits into the predictive schema laid out in a couple of books I co-authored in the 1990s (Generations in 1991 and The Fourth Turning in 1997). I will respond to these questions in my upcoming notes.
Let me just say here, as a preview, that I regard the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to be the most significant development in American politics going back to the early 1980s—not because of who Trump or Sanders are personally, but because of what their popularity says about a decisive mood shift in the electorate. (And not just here in America, but around much of the world.) In our earlier books, we foresaw this shift as driven by generational aging and occurring on a “seasonal” timetable that has demonstrated remarkable regularity through history.
In brief, since the middle of 2000-2010 decade, America has been moving into a “fourth turning era,” a winter season of history in which there arises a surging popular demand for community, public authority, national priorities, cultural tradition, and bottom-line results. There is an equivalent ebbing of popular interest in goals that had earlier been esteemed—such as individualism, personal rights, globalization, cultural transgression, and fair process.
Already, the Trump and Sanders movements have radically realigned the American political firmament. Trump, in one blow, has obliterated the party of culture-war social values, imperial globalism, and unregulated free agency. The new GOP stands for pragmatic social solutions, America-first isolationism, and solidarity with the working class.
Sanders, meanwhile, has pulled the Democratic Party far to the economic left and endowed its platform with vast new public agendas (including single-payer health, a universal right to college, and soak-the-rich tax rates) that few Democratic leaders previously contemplated, even as recently as 2012. And what Sanders started in the Democratic makeover, the sheer threat of Donald Trump has completed. Can anyone in living memory recall a Democratic convention with so many American flags and “USA” chants, so much talk about “American greatness,” so many appeals to “faith,” “family values” (thanks, Michelle), and law and order. At the same time the party is moving leftward economically, it is moving rightward socially.