Did you start your life as a youthful radical 20-something fighting for the good of the world and the rights of the people only to find yourself moderating as you got older? Today we want to talk about how your political stance may have changed over the years and what it was that might have made it change. Or perhaps whether you have even admitted to yourself it has changed.
We all know there are plenty of famous people and even politicians out there who have changed their stance after their early years taught them a thing or two. Kevin Rudd started out as a young Liberal before flipping teams, Peter Costello started out as a young Labor, and Peter Garrett was a greenie. Each grew up from their early years and changed teams, and no doubt have their own reasons for doing so as they have matured and discovered their own alignment with party visions and politics.
There’s a famous old saying adapted from French revolutionary politician Francois Guizot, “If you’re not a socialist at the age of 20 you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at the age of 40, you have no brain.”
Have you seen your views shift more towards the right as time has gone on?
Back in 2010 there was a study done of how political allegiance changes over the years, usually around middle age. It showed that as people hit the mid points of their life their youthful radicalism tends to shifts towards more conservative thinking. And according to the study it all comes back to the people you hang around with.
Dr James Rockey, a lecturer in political economics at the University of Leicester back in 2010 said “Politics is social,” and that
“there are two main factors – the first is that people compare themselves not to the population as a whole but to the people they know; the second is that political preferences change over time”.
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One can only imagine that this happens somewhere around the time when houses, marriages and children enter the picture changing people’s social circles perhaps making one much more accountable for their decisions in life.
Rockey’s study suggested that some people vote for left-of-centre parties “by mistake”, having failed to stop and recalibrate the fact that their idealism has indeed changed with time. He says that some people become ignorant of their own political interests and sympathies.
He says that one reason why “intellectuals” do not realise that they have shed their youthful liberalism is that they tend to socialise with people going through the same ideological shift. Detached from the broader electorate, the study showed they fail to notice that their views have become distinctly conservative.
His study captured the data from 136,000 people in 48 countries, from 1981 to 2008, asking them to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 from left wing to right wing.
These perceptions were then compared with indicators of the respondents’ actual ideological position, which was established by asking them whether they believed wealth should be divided more equally.
Dr Rockey’s paper concluded: “Individuals either choose not to, or are unable to, locate their ideological positions reliably.”
Funnily enough over recent decades, politics in Australia has changed too. The Labor party has gradually shifted more and more to the right, the Greens too, and that leaves only minor parties at the true left of Australian politics.
Were you a young radical and have you gradually seen your political stance moderate?
Was there any particular thing that triggered your change?
Do you think you have a good idea of where you stand in the political spectrum right now?