|Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's|
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Even more startling than the massive anger that voters directed at California Governor Gray Davis in yesterday's recall election was the irrelevance of the gender politics attack on Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although there was a small "gender gap" in election results, with Schwarzenegger doing slightly better among men than women, the polling also indicates that minds were not changed, overall, by the "grope a dope" attack by the Los Angeles Times in the last five days of the campaign, in which 19 women claim to have been groped by Schwarzenegger during the last 30 years. People who made up their minds in the last couple of days voted roughly the same way as people who made up their minds two to three weeks earlier. This would have been quite different in the 1990s.
This is explainable in generational terms. The 1990s was an generational "unraveling" period for America. During unraveling periods, the emphasis is on the individual and on individual rights, with less concern for the society as a whole or of setting societal goals.
Following the generational change that occurred in the early 2000s, and especially following 9/11, society entered a generational "crisis" period. A society's mood shifts dramatically, away from concern for the individual toward concern for society as a whole. People felt terrorized after 9/11, and that translates into a desire to protect America and its way of life.
So a woman complaining about being groped in the 1980s was appropriate during the culture and gender wars of the 1990s, but is considered less important in the 2000s than national and personal security.
It's also less important than the state of the economy, and this brings us back to the anger that Californians felt toward the incumbent governor, Gray Davis, as a result of the high unemployment rate.
Generational Dynamics predicts that the economy is going to continue to get worse, as it did in the 1930s Great Depression. We see this playing out today, with so many manufacturing, technology and service jobs leaving the country for India, China, and other low-wage countries, with unemployment increasing, and with unemployed people's savings and credit running out.
If these economic trends become major issues in the 2004 Presidential election, voters might decide to "recall" George Bush in the same way that they recalled Gray Davis -- and in the same way they "recalled" Herbert Hoover in the 1932 Presidential election.