Feeling Berned in Budapest

During a recent trip to Budapest, I met an American liberal who took just 47 minutes to tell me to go and screw myself. Well, she dressed that suggestion in more forceful garb, I’ll admit.

The triggering of such familiar vitriol was innocent enough. I “deceived” her, she said. She was “so mad right now!” her face writhing, china-white teeth sharpening into fangs, fingers tightened around her empty glass. Thankfully, the seething Jewish Quarter muffled her gratuitous lavishing of the unrepeatable curse word.

Anyway, she started it.

Taking heed of the age-old advice to never discuss politics or religion where alcohol flows, my lips did not separate until my American disposable friend felt the need, confession booth-style, to insist that President Trump, or “Cheeto Hitler” as she called him, was not her president.

“What policies of his do you oppose?” I enquired.

“Like, all of them,” she replied. “Every. Single. One.”

Suspicious of nonsense, I pressed, carefully grafting Bernie Sanders onto candidate Trump’s campaign rally superhits. They’re not too dissimilar, after all.

To each one, my Millennial friend nodded and hummed, the havoc inside her brain dissolving.

The big reveal, as satisfying as it was, sparked a confined pandemonium. I’d seen this phenomenon on YouTube countless times, but, in the flesh? Illuminating.

If you’re somewhat concerned about the Millennial’s welfare, she eventually recovered from my armchair Freudian attempt at what therapists (a growth sector, no doubt) call “exposure therapy.”

This kind of behavior is sadly common among Millennials. Yet, the point shouldn’t need belaboring: politics is often about policies, no?

Youthful Cognitive Dissonance
Those around my age have swiped left on logic and reason. Any given weekend, it seems, in London or Los Angeles, youth-sodden throngs protest democracy’s awkward tendency to disappoint at least half of a nation.

“Sign this, man!” said one sinewy protester, as I sauntered past a Cardiff demonstration demanding Great Britain stay in the European Union, despite its departure being supported by the largest mandate in our history. When I painfully pointed out that J. P. Morgan donated millions to the Remain campaign, he shrugged—“But, I hate the banks!”

Shakily daubed placards proclaimed that the “gammons” (a complexion-centered jibe denoting a Brexit voter—sort of the British version of “deplorables”) had “stolen” the “future” of the young and hip. Of course, a majority of these young and hip didn’t even bother to vote in 2016, and they move along now in similar fashion,  not bothering to parse the youth unemployment numbers across the European Union which besots them.

It seemed a supermajority of those I spoke to had populist convictions, yet did not grasp that they were fighting on behalf of the ruling class whose colossal incompetence leading up to, and following, the Great Crash of 2008, is what has really poisoned their future.

Aldous Huxley Got it Right!
Millennials on both sides of the Atlantic protest feverishly for the status quo. Despite the airs of “Resistance,” Generation Selfie applies social media dynamics to the political arena. Being visibly “progressive” means Instagram-ready protests where support is measured in “likes” or upvotes. The financial class, no doubt, finds this cognitive truancy oddly hilarious.

After all, social media is a manicured, and selective version of reality, much like the progressive politics motoring the herds of independent minds. Likes are social currency; peacocking the “correct” opinion is the key to the Federal Reserve which floods Facebook, Instagram, Twitter et. al. with bien-pensant quotes from 1984.

They may cite Orwell, but it was his former schoolteacher Aldous Huxley, who, when not zooming across grandiloquent psychedelic plains, got it right. The oppressed, as his work Brave New World predicted, had no idea of their oppression. They preferred it, even.

Huxley disagreed with his former Eton charge. In a 1949 letter, thanking him for his gift of 1984 he flatly disagreed on the book’s premise: one could control the masses much easier, he insisted, by teaching them to value their servitude. No torture or terror was required.

Huxley’s imagined citizens of London were engorged on their every empty desire—sex, drugs—Soma-fuelled “freedom” unvisited by human sensibilities. Hedonism was the creed they ravaged with bulimic obsession.

The protagonist Bernard Marx questions the system and is written-off as defective. You could say Bernard was “woke” in the same manner as serial antagonist Kanye West, who dared “speak out of turn” as Maxine Waters put it in the parlance of an overseer.

West, an undoubtedly influential figure for Millennials, was shouted down so energetically because he dangerously pointed out that the liberal stranglehold over Black America is what ails them. He could have said: “Democrats don’t care about black people.” He wouldn’t have been far wrong.

The danger to Waters, of course, being that the Democratic agenda is futile without the votes of those they bestow with their patronizing compassion. They must persist in their grooming of millennials into another angry reliable and docile voting bloc.

Against Trump in (Almost) Every Way
That’s what keeps the Democrats ticking over. Long-jettisoned is the party of the working man. That is now in thrall to the intellectual skirmishing and identity politics beloved of its metropolitan Brahmins.

But identity politics is scorpion-and-frog.

Although mulishly conformist, Millennials are also inherently fickle. The generation of Netflix and Spotify doesn’t mess around. If something better appears, their loyalties dissolve. Ask MySpace Tom.

A recent Reuters poll underlined this. Support for congressional Democrats among Americans ages 18 to 34 sank by 9 percent in the past two years, while the Democrats’ 12-point gap on the economy fell to just two points.

Though two-thirds join my Budapest acquaintance in their rabid opposition to President Trump, they don’t seem to mind Trump’s economic policies. And neither did she—at least not as long as she thought they were Bernie’s.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

About Christopher Gage

Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.

Photo: VALLEJO, CA - MAY 18: A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders holds a campaign button during a campaign rally at Waterfront Park on May 18, 2016 in Vallejo, California. A day after winning the Oregon primary, Bernie Sanders is campaigning in California ahead of the state's presidential primary on June 7. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.