Voting Old

In the analyses of the recent election, many commentators noted that young voters helped Democrats win, especially in close races. It shouldn’t be surprising because research has shown that younger adults tend to be more liberal and vote Democratic while older folks are more conservative and vote Republican.

Yet it’s hard to grasp because I had assumed that my generation of baby boomers would carry our liberal politics into old age. We were the generation that opposed the Vietnam War, supported civil and women’s rights and started the first Earth Day celebrations.

In my (adopted) hometown, I remember in my 20s seeing that tidal wave of change. A city council that consisted of white men was replaced with two women, an environmentalist, a black man and a gay man. At the time it seemed revolutionary. Yet somehow those young voters who threw the old white guys out are now getting more conservative. How does this happen?

Research shows that as we age, we process information slower. I was shocked to read that our mental capabilities peak in our 20s and head downhill since then. However, even though we might not be as smart as our younger selves or the younger generation, I was glad to read that we compensate with wisdom accumulated over decades.

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