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Brexit Is A Warning To Young American Voters

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Brexit Is A Warning To Young American Voters

A vote remain supporter walks past a vote leave supporter outside Downing Street after Britain voted to leave the European Union. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

The results of the Brexit referendum shine a light on the importance of the youth vote, and young Americans should learn from them as we approach our own crossroads in November.

Seventy-five percent of voters 24 and younger were against the Brexit, and for remaining in the European Union. British voters 49 and younger also favored the Remain option, according to polls conducted before the vote.

A poll taken before election day showed that 34 percent of pensioners backed Remain, and 59 percent backed the Brexit.

“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were outvoted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them.” Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said of Britain’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.

British youth overwhelmingly took to social media to express feelings of helplessness about facing a future they did not choose. Many were angry that older voters who have enjoyed the benefits of the European Union decided on a different, uncertain path for the future generations.

“This decision was made by an aging population who has spent decades reaping the many benefits of the EU. These people have voted for a future that is not their own,” wrote university student Alana Chen in a Facebook post. “They will not be here to feel the full effects of the devastation they have caused with their votes. It’s us, the student generation that now have to live with something we voted against. Tell me how that’s fair?! Our country is crumbling and we’re completely helpless to stop it. Utterly devastating.”

Political journalist Nicholas Barret wrote in a now-viral reaction to the vote: “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.”

Even voters who chose the Leave option have expressed regret after their side won.

“I did not think that was going to happen, I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain,” a young man named Adam told the BBC.

Voting preferences showed a strong correlation with age. East coast areas, which have the largest pensioner populations, scored the highest pro-Brexit votes. YouGov poll results in the days before the vote told a clear story:

The Guardian broke down the British youth vote:

Voter ages are not recorded, but in urban areas where the average age was 35 and under, electoral commission data showed overwhelming support for remaining in the EU. This was particularly marked in the London local authorities of Lambeth, Hackney and Harringey, where the average age is between 31 and 33, and which all voted over 75% in favour of remaining in the EU.

Oxford and Cambridge, the councils with the highest percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds, were also remain strongholds, as was Tower Hamlets, which has the highest percentage of 21- to 30-year-olds. According to YouGov polling before the referendum result, 64% of under-25s said they wanted the UK to remain. With a life expectancy for that generation of 90, younger voters have approximately eight more decades to live compared with the voters who most favoured leaving, the over 65s.

For all their agreement on the right direction for Britain, youth turnout to vote was, perhaps predictably, low. In the largest turnout election in decades in Britain, the number of attainers, or newly eligible voters, fell by 40 percent.

The vote was also held over the summer, when many young people are in summer vacation from college.

According to a Times poll taken at Glastonbury music festival, 22 percent of the young attendee did not vote, with 65 percent of those saying they wanted to vote to Remain but did not register in time. They would have added about 15,000 votes to the Remain side.

Michael Sani, a member of the youth voting group Bite the Ballot, said that young voter turnout was negatively affected by the direction of both campaigns, which ignored youth engagement because of the historically low turnout of young voters.

“If no one inspires you, that is how you end up being marginalized, divided and fearing,” Sani told The Guardian. “This generation are so passionate, they care so much about issues, but they are just not empowered to use the means of communication to get through to make real change. Both campaigns have been a disaster in terms of meaningful engagement on such complex issues.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his resignation after the Brexit, missed his chance to appeal to young voters. The Cameron-lead government rejected requests from Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the referendum.

As America faces its own vote in November — one that has been compared to Brexit by presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, who backed the Leave option — young people can have a voice in what is sure to be a decisive moment in American history.

They will either follow the historically low young voter turnout trend that contributed to Britain’s exit from the EU, and has been a consistent factor in American politics, or they could learn from this seismic moment in British history and break the pattern.


Photo: A vote remain supporter walks past a vote leave supporter outside Downing Street after Britain voted to leave the European Union. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs



  1. Dominick Vila June 24, 2016

    Young Britons voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Older voters voted to leave the EU. One segment of the population of the UK was well aware of the financial impact of leaving the EU, the other embraced populist themes, ignored the consequences of voting to leave the EU, and are now seeing their retirement funds disappear.
    Comparisons between the reasons that influenced the outcome of the British referendum, with the issues that are likely to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in the USA, are ridiculous. What is not so ridiculous, however, is the power of demagoguery, the exploitation of fear, and the appeal of xenophobic and misogynist issues on so many people.

    1. JPHALL June 24, 2016

      Do not make the same mistake Sanders did. He over-estimated the voting tendency of the youth. Passion does not always translate into votes.

    2. Klokinator June 25, 2016

      Young voters have seen their country bent over for 18-25 years. Old voters have seen their country bent over for up to 100 years.

      Your insult to grandparents who lived through world war 2, Vietnam, and many others is an insult to their rich knowledge, and very insulting. Maybe kids are just stupid fools who know nothing of politics beyond what that funny comedian on the Telly said.

      1. Dominick Vila June 25, 2016

        Those who supported Brexit are not the only ones who lived through WW2, and the Cold War wars that followed. The difference between them, and many of us, is that they did not learn much from that era. The EU has played a major role in ending the bellicosity that characterizes European history. Going back to the good old days is not the answer, neither from a national security perspective, nor from an economic perspective. Those fellow seniors who voted for Brexit reacted to emotion, rather than logic.
        As for young people, have you considered the probability that their decision was influenced more by the distinct probability of them having a lot more to lose than people like myself, who already lived our lives and don’t have much to lose?

        1. Leftout June 25, 2016

          30 % of so called youth did not vote , they have no interest in voting till they have to work for a living. Then they turn conservative anyway. So what’s the beef. No mention in the article as to what effects Will be on daily life for UK , some studies indicated nondicernable differences were gained economically , now UK can secure its Borders against the “unmentionables ” as most of Europe failed to do , to their demise . Most tourist want to go to Paris to enjoy French culture , not to be shot at . If we like shootings , al fresco , we can go to Chicagos’ Obamaland.

          1. Joan June 25, 2016

            ” Unmentionables”! shame on you for calling people, what ever your beef with them ” unmentionable”. ALL people are mentionable. This use of language as a tool against people and the attitudes it conveys are one of the reasons there is so much violence HERE. There is no ” other” there are just us, and we need to work out a way to live in harmony and without violence. Your attitude which is shared by too many, but not a majority, is part of the problems and a roadblock to constructive dialogue and solutions. Unmentionables are underwear, it used to refer to those who had leprosy, it should never be used to apply to people in the 21st century.

          2. Leftout June 25, 2016

            Obama does not mention the names of should be mentionables. I am using same criteria As in the case w the AG , who does not want to mention segments of the population because they would possibly be offended !??
            Some people do live in isolation as the very , usually sheltered Harvard types , not so Boston U. Wholesome types . Yes a 60
            Yr olde janitor has been able to see variously more levels of experiences surely more than” white privilege types ” like Obama . Wisdom can follow with age AND experiences .
            My “unmentionables ” are security risks only .

          3. Box June 25, 2016

            I enjoyed my many happy hours of chats with an Indian hotel doorman who was over 80 years old. He had traveled the world, knew details of US history I didnt know myself, had a great and endearing perspective about life, how to live, what to do in situations. Wisdom and perceptiveness, you cant buy it. A 20 year old can teach me what, exactly?

          4. Leftout June 25, 2016

            Right you are , Box. Getting real experiences of others are more true than theoretical economic /social theories . Experience are real, proven and have happened and should be applied to world problems .

          5. Box June 25, 2016

            The world is torn by differences in religious faith. A long line, a very long line of smarter people (i’ll say diplomats since diplomacy is the tone of your comment) than you have tried to create bridges between Christians, Jews and Muslims and none have succeeded. There will be war. One day, in 500 or 1000 years they will have finally annihilated each other and that will be the end of that. Better, in this life, just keep them separated, thats peace.

          6. Joan June 25, 2016

            So because it is difficult you have exonerated yourself from any responsibility to try. Isn’t that so convenient for you! Worse than that, you are willing to have others use it as a reason not to treat them with the respect any human being is worthy of. My religion teaches me that if I, and 66% of the world treat others with compassion that we will be able to live in harmony and there will be Peace on Earth. I have vowed to be part of the inconvient, messy, time consuming and hard solution.

          7. AgLander June 25, 2016

            Your actual beef is with Obama…..to HIM they are the “unmentionables”……he hasn’t lifted a finger, nor does he care to enforce gun laws in place against those committing crimes with guns. He’d rather rail on and on for political purposes of division and unrest about the injustice of police action when they are simply doing their jobs.

          8. Joan June 27, 2016

            PLEASE! You do not get to tell me, who I have a beef with. I have heard President Obama on why he does not use the term Radical Muslim Terrorists. What he says is thoughtful and I agree with him. He has never called even the terrorist ” unmentionable”. Now if you would like, you can explain to me why use of that exact term as a descriptor is so vitally necessary and important. I will read with an open mind your post.

          9. drdroad June 25, 2016

            Or just remain in the USA, where mass shooting in the last 2 decades exceed the same incidences in the rest of the world put together 74 – 21!

          10. Leftout June 25, 2016

            Shootings as in Chicago are self limiting and should slow down . American shootings are reported c, but foreign un-nameable groups have more basic beheadings , stonings , mass drownings , roof top sky diving events for gays , burnings on the town square ! Your numbers are absurd in a fact that this country does not have a homogenous population in a sense that earlier immigrants assimilated into a
            Pseudo culture of “Americanism ” newer immigrants come here and hold on too steadfastly to their old countries incompatible ways , which are very contrary to American values. These immigrants are now living in enclaves as in Britain, France , etc.

          11. drdroad June 26, 2016

            Wow, you really had to work hard at that: “geez, how to I disprove facts??”. Its basically unreadable and doesn’t change those facts, but bonus points for digging deep!

          12. Leftout June 26, 2016

            You can not disprove facts.

        2. Klokinator June 25, 2016

          So it comes down to those with life experience, and those with a life still to experience, eh? Sorry, but I’ll trust age and wisdom over youth and ignorance. A 60 year old janitor has seen and experienced many more things than a college educated Harvard grad and I’d trust his instinct about the world over that student’s in most cases.

          Especially as most colleges nowadays have a decided heavy uphill slant towards one particular message.

          1. Bill P June 25, 2016

            You must be a painter , you certainly like to paint broad strokes over thousands of people. Youthful and ignorant (wonder how they got through Harvard) versus older and experienced. Wow that’s a pretty broad coloring of people. Your claim that a 60yo janitor has seen and experienced more than a Harvard grad (college educated is implied if you have graduated from Harvard, wouldn’t you agree? It’s not just that counts, some people live all of their lives in a very closed environment and have little valuable experiences to share. Being old doesn’t guarantee wisdom.

          2. Box June 25, 2016

            That comment was very ill-conceived.

          3. Bill P June 25, 2016

            Which comment – mine or klokinator?

          4. Klokinator June 25, 2016

            So you think just because someone completes college, even Harvard, that makes them smart? If that were the case, then why do so many college educated students fail to make anything of their lives? With all their book smarts, they have no ‘street smarts’ and fail to utilize their full potential. Memorizing information does not an intelligent person make.

            I’ve seen plenty of smarmy cocksure college kids come through and sluff out, have no ability to work hard, and expect high pay and good hours to fall out of the sky in front of them “Because they’re smart”. You’re a fool if you think these kids know anything of the world around them.

          5. Bill P June 27, 2016

            Well anyone who can graduate from high school with a GPA high enough, SAT/ACT scores high enough and extra curricular activity to be accepted into a highly rated and competitive college/university then gets through the academic requirements needed to graduate from a Harvard is smart. Your statement that many college educated people fail to make anything of their lives is true to some extent. What % of these fail compared to those who don’t go to college and fail also? You show your bias against education when you think it’s only memorization of information. I grew up in a working class family and my father (a laborer) had one of the most proud days in his life when he attended my college graduation, unlike you he knew the value of an education.
            In a number of fields your so-called “smarmy” college grads work 60-80 hours a week or more, look at any law firm, medicine, engineering, Silicon valley startups, etc. Your comments come off as if you are just another angry old man who can’t stand seeing these “kids” (hardly since they are 21yo or older) getting ahead in the world. As I stated in my prior comment you are painting in very broad strokes over thousands of people.

      2. AgLander June 25, 2016

        Amen….well stated!

      3. Insinnergy June 27, 2016

        Congrats on posting no evidence, no actual points, and no facts.
        I’m uninterested in your opinion unless you’re prepared to back it up with something more than blather.

        1. Klokinator June 27, 2016

          Congrats on posting even less than I supposedly did.

    3. WEJG June 25, 2016

      Most young voters cared so much that they didn’t even register to vote. Hmmm.

    4. Box June 25, 2016

      The older folks know better, they lived through both being alone and being in EU. But young people have no experience, nothing to gauge by, are life-inexperienced as well as an uninformed lot. And who says the EU experiment was ever or would be a success? It isnt. At least five other countries are ripe for leaving and i’ll predict they will speed up their plans based on brexit. Personally, whatever that scoundrel Soros wants, I want the polar opposite and run like mad–and that would be the BR-EXIT.

      1. Dominick Vila June 25, 2016

        This senior appreciates your vote of confidence. In my humble opinion, the EU experiment has been a huge success. One of its most significant accomplishments has been to avoid war since its inception. Considering the history of Europe, that’s a major accomplishment. Another significant accomplishment is the fact that it contributed to economic growth, and a high standard of living. It does have serious shortcomings, however. I don’t like the fact that many high ranking officials in Brussels are appointed, rather than elected; and the fact that Brussels is not responsive to the wishes of the people. Another is the influence of large European banks in the political process, and the tendency to bail them out when they get in trouble.
        Overall, it has helped, but there is no question that changes are needed.

    1. Insinnergy June 27, 2016

      Otto’s given up on words… sad troll is sad.

      1. I of John June 27, 2016

        perhap they ran out of Jello in the dayroom.

  2. plc97477 June 25, 2016

    At least it is sort of nice that the USA in no longer the laughing stock of the planet. Thank you England for taking the spot away from us for a while.

    1. FT66 June 26, 2016

      It was a bit funny to watch BBC. Some of voters saying they voted “leave” thinking they will lose anyway/anyhow. They didn’t think if the majority think that way, eventually they will emerge as winners. And this is exactly what happened.

  3. cruisersailor June 25, 2016

    Young voters need to turn out in huge numbers and vote for Hillary in November. Attending rallies isn’t enough.

    1. Box June 25, 2016

      They wont be able to, they will be too busy voting for Trump.

    2. AgLander June 25, 2016

      Why would you want to mentally scar a young voter just getting started in their voting careers by encouraging them to vote for Hillary Clinton, the most corrupt person to ever run for the office of President of The United States? Are you really that cruel and disdainful of the younger crowd?

      1. Insinnergy June 27, 2016

        Sad troll.

  4. AgLander June 25, 2016

    Youth and inexperience was fortunately overruled by age and wisdom. They’re young, they will hopefully learn in time. The ones who don’t learn and stay stupid become Democrats.

    1. Insinnergy June 27, 2016

      Wow… you really are the textbook definition of a troll.
      I’m afraid I can no longer take you seriously, and in all cases will settle for ridicule.

      More on topic:
      Note that the “Leave” leaders are already expressing shock that any of their lies were mistakenly taken as being true, and explaining that none of them have a plan for the upcoming recession and vast waste of resources that will be spent trying to unravel Britain’s membership in the EU…

      All at a truly massive cost.

      That’s some impressive “age and wisdom” right there.
      Or should we say “Alzheimers and Googling ‘What is the EU?'”.

      1. AgLander June 27, 2016

        If whining was a sport, you’d be Olympic gold. The decision has been made so let me give you the admonition your parents probably had to use with their little braying brat every day: “You don’t have to like it, but you DO have to accept it, shut-up!”

    2. I of John June 27, 2016

      Wow you are nutty. Perhaps you should leave the day-room and return to your padded cell.


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