This change will be caused not by the arrival of something but a disappearance - the loss of baby boomers. When they dwindle and disappear, power will shift to the generations that come behind them. It has already started to happen, as the 2016 obituaries of the famous show.
The sheer number of the baby boomers gave them power. Politics and society followed their concerns because that was where the most votes could be found - and the biggest markets.
The concerns of the baby boomers have been the concerns of Western democracies since the 1960s. We saw a young idealistic generation lead massive, idealistic social change in the 60s and 70s.
In the 80s and 90s, as they raised families, bought houses and thought about investments for the future, greed became good and parties on the left shifted to the Centre. It was the era of Reagan and Thatcher.
In the late 90s and early 2000s suddenly it was the rise of the grey nomads and discussions were about health, longevity and retirement. Our politics became even more conservative helped along by 911 and the rise of terrorism.
Today we are talking about quality of life and legalizing euthanasia.
But I am fascinated by what will follow when this generational bulge has moved on. A decade or 15 years from now, the power shift will be unequivocal.
And the forgotten generations appear to come with a very different agenda.
We saw hints of this with the Occupy movement. It persisted well beyond what many of us expected.
But the US election shows the disconnect between the coming generations and the baby boomers most profoundly.
Bernie Sanders owns the age group 18-50.
This is a man asking for a complete restructure of society and who is having what are regarded as socialist talking points as part of his campaign. Whether he is genuinely socialist or not is a discussion for another day – the perception in the US is that he is a socialist.
He is attracting voters to ideas that couldn’t have even been debated publicly during the last election. Sanders is an idealist and yet is pulling in everyone but the baby boomers.
This tells us that left wing ideas and idealism are persisting through the generations that follow the baby boomers. It suggests a significant portion of voters want to pull democratic politics further to the left.
Meanwhile on the right, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz show that conservative voters want to pull down the old politics. The disarray of the conservative movement in the US does not bode well for its future but it also tells of a sharp disconnect between the generations.
Big business has for the first time in an election come to be seen as an enemy of the people and this thought is being echoed in many western democracies.
In the UK, a man far to the left, Jeremy Corbyn, has taken over the Labor Party and could be on track to be a future prime minister.
In Australia, the hard right of politics has been well and truly disavowed and there has been an attempt by the Coalition in power to move back towards the centre and deal with the problems of climate change and social need in response to voters’ growing conerns.
In Canada, where the baby boomers are becoming outnumbered, Justin Trudeau is ushering in a new era of politics.
In fact the threat of climate change resonates much more strongly with those generations that follow the boomers. It has formed generations that are thinking of the future, of the planet and beyond their immediate needs. Sustainability, fairness and equity mean something to a generation that has seen baby boomers win so many advantages because of their power.
Baby boomers may not have meant to hurt the generations that came after them but it was a natural side effect of it being such a powerful and influential generation. Politicians cared about them first at the expense of others because that’s where the votes were.
When this conservative rump of the baby boomers moves on, the truly silent majority will actually start to find their voice.
The concerns of politicians will no longer be the concern of one generation but the concerns of many, which will make communicating much more complex. The youth vote will again have real power.
With the current circumstances of the world and the fears they have for the future, the coming generations are inclined to be more worried about the problems of the environment because they can directly see how it will impact them. They are witnessing and feeling what inequality is doing to their generation.
As they respond to these very personal fears and respond with demands for policy, these new generations coming into their power may even appear to be seen as an unselfish lot. If so, it will throw a real curve ball to politicians and businesses that depend on voters personal self-interest for power. It will still be self interest but of a very different kind.
As communicators and policymakers we have had easy access for 60 years to a powerful group in the baby boomers. With their support we have been able to sell into a single large market, institute change and easily sway a society. That day is fast disappearing.
It’s like a coalmine in a small country town closing down. We will have to find new ways to keep going, diversify our business model to reach across multiple generations and not be dependent on one.
In the near future - I suspect by the mid 2020s - we will be responding to many more voices than in the past. In this future without baby boomer power, our ideas must have broad appeal to multiple generations to get political buy-in. If the idealism of the coming generations remains, we may also be talking more about the benefit to all of society rather than the needs of a single generation.
I would not like to be a large business taking advantage of the young or consumers in this environment. That is a group whose voting power can only grow and substantial pressure will be brought to bear on those increasing inequality and damaging the environment.
Our focus must shift. We need to look at the generations beyond the baby boomers for future communications and policymaking decisions. Expect surprises, election results from out of nowhere, new market segments and the unexpected rise of underground groups into prominent public positions.
Canada’s new leader, Justin Trudeau, may be a sign of the politics to come. Certainly he has come from a political dynasty, but his words and actions are clearly speaking to the generations that follow the boomers.
As always in our industries, we should look ahead. The future of our policy and communications approach is literally being taken from the cold dead hands of the boomers. And now, to take liberties with Shakespeare, something different this way comes.