AGE-OLD QUESTION

It's common, easy, and often necessary to shit on the Democratic Party in the same way it's easy to shit on the Cleveland Browns. The amount of material they give you to work with is…extensive.

As usual, 18 months before the 2020 election kicks off – yes, it'll be here before you know it – lots of names are being thrown out there. And just as usual, the names are often recycled self-nominees or media speculation about candidates with very little track record who look good on paper but may not even be willing to run.

Unless this story is trolling, John Kerry is apparently putting out feelers. Joe Biden too. Maybe Hillary again. Maybe Sanders again.

Now. An important caveat. The Democratic Party as an organization has nothing to do with this. Anyone can say they are thinking about running. Also, don't forget that in this "Invisible Primary" period people gravitate toward names that are familiar. Those names will do well in a hypothetical poll because they're the ones people know.

That said, consider for a moment the current state of Democratic leadership in Congress and prominent (at least in terms of name recognition) maybe-running candidates for 2020: Schumer (age 67), Pelosi (77), Bernie (76), HRC (70), Biden (75), Durbin (74), Steny Hoyer (78), and Kerry (74). All of those people are white. Two are women, one of whom (Pelosi) has never even suggested aspirations beyond the House.

We may reasonably ask if having so much power within the party that is supposed to represent a diverse America better is not helping matters. This is not a shit-fest; all of these people have done good things at some point in their long political careers. But is a retirement-aged white guy really the way forward? For anything?

I don't think this issue is unique to the Democratic Party or even politics. With no disrespect to the more aged and experienced among us, I can't help but feel like the current generation of older people is remarkably unwilling to ride off into the sunset and let The Youths (say, some spry 55 year olds, maybe) take over. Look, that generation had a very long run. It has to end at some point. It is OK to elevate people born after 1960 into leadership roles, in politics and everywhere else.

Part of the problem for the parties, of course, is that younger people today either see life in politics as nightmarish, can't afford the very high cost of entry, or both. Congress has done a very good job, alongside the right-wing media, of making the idea of a career in Washington seem highly unappealing. Why would anyone get into this game to be torn to pieces, threatened by lunatics on the internet, dumped all over, and blocked at every turn by special interests? The only answer is ego. You'd put up with all of that if you had an enormous ego that needed power.

So that guarantees that even if younger people do enter the game they're probably not the kind of person who is likely to do anything to improve it.

Yes, there are younger Democrats who could run in 2020. And people like Biden and Kerry may not be all that serious about trying again. It is a problem that goes beyond the 2020 Democratic candidate pool, though. It's a delicate topic because it makes older people feel stigmatized and attacked, but it's very difficult to rebut the idea that maybe, just maybe, part of the problem with a lot of our institutions is that the powerful people in them are so often so old. Maybe someone with less "experience" (in a broken system) is a logical alternative.

I mean, it couldn't go much worse.

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64 thoughts on “AGE-OLD QUESTION”

  • I couldn't agree more. I really enjoyed Bruce Gibney's book "A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America." I realize that's a very divisive premise but I thought he supported it quite well. As a young person, I feel that not only are "old" white men (+women?) not the way forward, but young people are just plain not represented when old people take power. We have totally different priorities since we've been saddled with obscene amounts of debt and a government more worried about pleasing religious extremists than executing the will of people like us. I hope that someday we will be able to take some power back.

  • I hope that someday we will be able to take some power back.

    Oh, not to worry about that.

    Death, a necessary end, is already coming for the boomers, and in another decade or so, we'll be effectively gone.
    People will find a way to blame what happens after then on the boomers too, for a while …

    But a few of you will live long enough to read your children's judgements on your own generation.

  • Good stuff, Ed.

    Even the "younger generation" of Democrats who are plausible for 2020 aren't all that young: Tim Kaine (59), Andrew Cuomo (60), Kamala Harris (53). Under-50s are nowhere to be seen.

    Lack of a talent pipeline is starting to bite. Since the Tea Party wave in 2010, Democrats have held very few offices at state level. Ordinarily, the people who 10 years ago were 30-something state representatives and the like, would now be 40-somethings running for Congress or state governor… but they got nothin'.

  • I'm with Talisker on this. Rep near lock on state gov'ts for nearly a decade has really depleted the bench. Here in WI with Americas dumbest governor running for a third term, and what is looking like a Dem wave, yeah we've got nothing. Dems have been locked out of power since 2010 and the party is in complete disarray. We're looking more and more like Alabama every day, just without lovely weather.

  • Bessemer Mucho says:

    I also thought death might be the answer, but thanks to medical science, many of these people refuse to die. Heck, Trump himself was born just before the beginning of the boomer cohort, I think. The trouble is that the younger generation of political leaders all seem to be people like Tom Cotton. I have ordered Gibney's book, just in case I need to feel even worse about everything than I do now.

  • Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?Who?

    Is not being spam. Is asking same question as have been asking since at LEAST last year?

    WHO are YOUR candidates?

    You would like my generation (I'm 68) to step aside–in favor of WHO? The election is in less than 10 months and I'm completely unimpressed with the earnest "Fuck-politics-we-know-a-BETTER-WAY-FORWARD!" chatter that I get here and elsewhere. I'm not sure what you younger folks call "navel gazing (I've always called it a colossal waste of time, as practiced by everyone I've ever had explain it to me)

  • Motherboardfuck this chromebook!

    As I was saying:

    (I've always called it a colossal waste of time, as practiced by everyone I've ever had explain it to me) but that seems to be the only thing the vast majority of the young people I talkl to are doing.

    A gaggle of folks born around 1950–1970 were telling me WHO they will be supporting in our local congressional race. I told them I would support their choice if SHE wins the primary and is not running against someone who has a better chance of beating the asshole incumbent.

    So far, in an election that will prolly involve 2-300 local and higher office, I've had ONE name given to me who is NOT a democrat (nobody's giving me any GOP.O.S. names because they know better).

    So, WHO are you getting behind? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  • Oh, I almost forgot.

    When you've dumped all of the olds who have been in power far too long who do you suppose will be running whatever committees they might have been running (and have in the past, in some cases) IF the dems capture the Congress?

    I know, I know–the current dems are EXACTLY the same as the RefucKKKliKKKlansmen and have done nothing but fuck you and everyone else since 1863 or thereabouts.

    It's obvious that the democrats hate the working man, p.o.c., women, minorities, immigrants, dissent, etc.

    Believe it or not, things would be worse if they weren't there for the last 50 or so years.

    Think minimum wage, Medicare, Medicaid and every other decent social legislation that's occurred since 1960–including the CRA–without the dems, it would not have happened. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar. The democrats piss me the fuck off and have done so for a long, long time. Yeah, they're way too cozy with the same people who support the ReiKKKwingerz. So, I'm going to get rid of them in favor of WHO?

  • Cory Booker is 48, the Castro Bros. are 43, Gillibrand is 51, Tim Ryan 43, Tulsi Gabbard is 36. And there are many others if you just look for them.

    It is definitely true that the old folks in leadership are not retiring which would give the younger generation an opportunity to step up. Hopefully that time is coming soon. (And frankly, the older folks should be grooming the younger ones to make that move.)

    I love Biden but cannot see him running for President in his late 70's. The same is true for Bernie taking another shot at it.

  • @Rosiesdad: fuck that homophobic muslim-hating, Assad-adoring trump stooge Tulsi Gabbard. Fuck her. She needs to be expelled from the Democratic Party. Why no mention of Tammy Duckworth? She’s young enough to be pregnant, is a certifiable Badass campaigner, and ISN’T a worthless piece of shit like Gabbard.

  • Uhh, Mark, McCain was born in Panama, Cruz was born in Canada, and they were considered "natural born" citizens. Duckworth has at least one U.S. citizen as a parent, like Cruz, so she's one, too. Or don't you think the same standard applies to Asian women?

    Maybe someone with less "experience" (in a broken system) is a logical alternative.

    I mean, it couldn't go much worse.

    That's what a lot of Trump voters said. How's THAT working out for ya?

  • wooflikeabear says:

    That's what a lot of Trump voters said. How's THAT working out for ya?

    How soon people forget Bush2. Trump has decreased American global power, which can be a global net benefit. I doubt many countries would be following the US into fabricated wars now. Trump has increased Democratic turnout by large numbers and solidified Democratic opposition to him. There's still some "bipartisan" Dem holdouts, but they must be purged or made irrelevant. So far I think Trump has been better than Dubya.

  • Mark I actually didn’t know she born in Thailand though given that she was the daughter of an American citizen and military veteran, I suspect she would not have any trouble running. Recall McCain was born in the Canal Zone. Birthright citizenship applies by law to the children of citizens and military bases and embassies are US territory for the purpose of that constitutional requirement, I guess it’s possible she was born off-base, but I frankly doubt she would lose in a challenge on that subject.

  • My youthful flirtations with politics ended when it became crystal clear that the people doing the legwork were largely in it for all the wrong reasons, and a sense of civic duty and desire for good government nothing more than lip service, at all ages and among both of the major parties. It sickened me to realize that the minority in both places would never make it when the way up was a human ladder fueled by ego/power lust/petty starfucker mentality/a lack of a need to earn money to live…

  • I just saw that Pelosi and Schumer have tapped Joe Kennedy III (Bobby's grandson) to deliver the State of the Union rebuttal. I don't know that much about him, but I recall seeing him speak on TV and was more impressed that I expected to be. I'm not in the habit of watching the SOTU or the followup, but I may make an exception this year—at least for this part.

  • Fercryinoutloud. You're all smarter than that. Especially Ed. (Right? Right?) It's not the age that matters. Or the color, or the sex, or the hairstyle, or the religion, or etc., etc., etc.

    It's the ideas and goals that count, plus the ability to convince Congress / voters to work toward them.

    I'd vote for a centenarian who knew how to turn us into Norway. Or a twenty year-old. So would all of you, I bet.

  • @my- that’s very interesting. And sad. For me, it wasn’t people were doing it for the wrong reasons, it was just that I don’t see any kind of clear path to a political life. Especially here in Texas, nobody seems to be interested in helping young people learn about government or run for office. I’ve been trying to educate myself as best I can, but for someone like me, there’s a limit to that

  • I'm a baby boomer and I often think that the best thing my generation could do is get out of the way. I'm not worried about younger people stepping up– I think that would happen.

    A lot of the time when I'm reading the news I'm struck by what my generation has done and not done. Then, I turn to my millennial son and apologize.

  • @My and Michael

    That defeatism plays into the hands of Republicans.

    If you throw up your hands and say 'they're all corrupt' then you are denouncing the idea of commonwealth and organization for any motive other than profit, which is the refrain of conservatives.

    Even without injecting the ideas of Dems vs. Rethugs into it, I try to point out the values of civic responsibility. Volunteerism, good citizenship, etc. — shit that even R's say is important. But that's actually a Democratic value; the idea that we get together to solve problems and improve our neighborhood/town/country not just make money off of one another.

  • Gavin Newsom seems to be a rising star out of CA. Lt. Gov now and running for Gov spot in November. But he has to wait for Jerry Brown to get outta the way to give him a shot.

  • I like these people (below), they may not be perfect but they generally champion political positions I can support and I think they would provide the benevolent and wise leadership this country is going to need while it digs out from under the rubble of GOP malfeasance.

    Robert Kennedy Jr. – I admire his fight for environmental protections and he writes persuasively. Too bad about the spasmodic dysphonia which makes his speaking voice sound terrible.

    Joe Kennedy III – someone to watch for the future, probably not 2020. He's young but he's in position to show his capabilities representing Massachusettes 4th District.

    Joaquin Castro – Currently U.S. House of Representatives Texas's 35th congressional district.

    Julian Castro16th United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017. Castro served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas from 2009 until he joined Obama's cabinet in 2014.

    The JC's needs to make their next move, either take a Texas Senate seat for the Ds (fuck the Sugarland assholes) or run for president – there are 2 of them so maybe do both.
    Kamala Harris – I am LOVING her on Twitter. United States Senator from California since 2017. She previously was the 32nd Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017.
    I would enthusiastically support her run for president but would also be afraid of how many GOP meatheads would react to the combined elements of: intelligent+educated+accomplished+black+woman+(openly defying and humiliating cretinous assholes like Jeff Sessions)= heads explode trying to decide if their racism or their misogyny is more triggered.

    Ted Lieu U.S. Representative for California's 33rd congressional district since 2015. I'm loving Ted on Twitter. With enough support, he might make a serious contender for the presidency.

  • I am 68 years old. I of course have no idea who I will support for the Democratic nomination in 2020. We don't even know who's running. But I do know that I will only support a candidate younger than myself.
    PS: It is wrong to confuse presidential candidates with Congressional leaders, who almost always tend to be older due to the seniority principle.

  • democommie: explain why you and your heroes did nothing about global warming during the 50 years since it was discovered, or in the 30 years since world governments came together and agreed to do something about it.

    enjoy dying in your well-fed, comfortable old age before the famines.

  • Age, cumulatively, has a big negative effect. It's not a coincidence that US politics feels so stagnant.

    If you replaced everyone in Congress with someone 30 years younger, even someone of the same party and the same general disposition, you'd see a sea change in the political discourse.

    Average American is more than 20 years younger than their political representatives. Average length of service in House used to be 4 years and is now more like 10 years… since that is pulled down by people that bounce out after only two years because they happened to snag an "unwinnable" seat, the people who sit in safe seats are staying there for decades.

  • Jeez given what democommie has shared of his/her situation here you should back the fuck down about a cushy retirement. I agree the Godwin’s law was unnecessary but so was your vitriol.

  • Boomer here. No arguments from me about how my generation sold out. I want to see some fresh faces in 2020. No retreads. I'm watching with great interest (in no particular order) Kamala Harris, Joe Kennedy III, Tammy Duckworth, Cory Booker and Gavin Newsom. One thing I think we can all agree upon is that the election of the Orange Hellbeast should have disabused anyone (with two brain cells to rub together, excluding the MAGA deplorables) of the notion that electing 'outsiders' is a spectacularly shitty idea.

  • Make that… disabused anyone of the notion that electing 'outsiders' is a GOOD idea! Sorry, my thoughts got … up mixed all. Boomer here.

  • Leaving aside what anyone thinks of the place now, I can recall from my earliest memories, circa 1962, of the (original) Cold War to the fall of the Soviet Union that Russia was repeatedly mocked for its leaders being so old. The mainstream commentariat even coined a term for it: gerontocracy.

  • Andrew Laurence says:

    @Greg: I believe the key question was whether she became a US citizen through naturalization. If not, then she's eligible to become President.

  • According to Wikipedia: Tammy Duckworth was born in Bangkok, Thailand, the daughter of Lamai Sompornpairin and Franklin Duckworth. Her father, who died in 2005, was a U.S. Army veteran who traced his family's American roots to the American Revolutionary War.[5]

  • Well paid socialist says:

    Duckworth's father is "British" in the same way that my grandparents are "Irish." Yeah, we can trace ancestry there, but you have to go back a few generations (more for her than me). I have a fondness for Ireland because I like beer and corned beef, but my passport has an eagle on the cover and a US state as place of birth. Technically, I'm eligible to be president, except that I'm an atheist and a socialist, so I wouldn't get many votes.

  • "Congratulations on your loss by Godwin."

    So, you can't admit that your logic is idiotic? It's a rhetorical question.

    @ Greg:

    Thanks!

    @ jeez and Michael:

    Proposals are welcome–none, other than, "Give us your car and get the fuck out of the way!". Have fun at the food riots.

  • An edit function would be welcom.

    "Proposals are welcome–none, other than, "Give us your car and get the fuck out of the way!" have been forthcoming. Have fun at the food riots.

  • "It is OK to elevate people born after 1960 into leadership roles, in politics and everywhere else."

    Wasn't there a recent President who fit that demo?

    This generational talk is bullshit. Of course the generation of parents fucks up the lives of their kids. Of course the kids don't know better. It has nothing to do with age.

  • Ten generations is a thousand twenty-eight ancestors. It is an impossibility that every one one of those thousand twenty-eight was a lily-white snowflake.

    We force the plebes to retire at sixty-two.

  • Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are neoliberals. just read up on what they say and who they work for/with. Crooked as the rest of the Blue Dogs. there is nothing good about Blue Dogs/aka Vichy French traitors.

    Unless they repeal austerity, put the Bankers in jail and rebuild America/ hike wages, Single Payer and tax the Rich, all politicians are just that: lying Republicans scamming America or helping the Republicans to scam America.

    Age has very little to do with the next Politician, more or less. it's whether they believe in society and work to return America to a more just, less racist society.

    Obama, Clinton, and most all the rest of the Democrats are the Problem.
    we need to take care of America first by having Single Payer, jailing CEOs who steal or park money offshore.

    it is so trite, been said so many times about what the solutions to America's ills are. Mostly Republican concepts which encourage sociopathic and psychopathic "leaders" who know how to "use" the money/power to screw the rest of us.

    i do believe most Boomers in power are part of the problem. to think they are the children of the so-called Greatest Generation which voted in Austerity under St. Reagan, just to keep the Blacks from getting a part of the American Dream. Now the Republicans are non stoppable in their destruction of the American worker and selling everything and everyone for Profit.

    Only when we work together can we overcome the evil Blue Dogs, like Harris, Booker, Biden, Obama, Clinton, Hoyer, Kaine, Hillary and the DNC, the DCCC.

    Profit over people has led us to this precipice, climate change and slavery of people, and the Republicans are not going to play nice. Fighting fire with fire is what is will take. Age doesn't mean squat in this race to save America and the world we live in. intentions, actions and cooperation is need.

    Only thing Republicans cooperate in is screwing everyone else. aka Buying the opposition out. somethings are not for sale. that is what any leaders needs to show us before we "should" support them. Age is irrelevant in that scenario.

  • Amateur socialist says:

    There is a simple elegant solution to all this. Jeff Bezos for president.

    He’s young and quite wealthy. His ego would certainly qualify. Distracting him with the reality show of modern politics might slow Amazon’s swallowing the rest of retail and technology. It’s win win!

  • Amateur socialist says:

    @karla: sure. And now that trump has proved the emoluments clause to be so much useless nonsense his ownership of the amazon shopper formerly known as wapo can’t be a problem.

  • Jeff Bezos is a piece-of-shit who understands tech and the intertoobz–does not make him any less of a piece of shit.

    @ Bernard:

    "Unless they repeal austerity, put the Bankers in jail and rebuild America/ hike wages, Single Payer and tax the Rich, all politicians are just that:"

    Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.Names.

    Who the fuck do you propose to replace the nearly 200 current member of Congress and the 49 senators who are democrats?

    You and some other whinerz are long on bash and short on coherent ideas to fix this problem.

    Or, maybe, you're just here to stir shit.

    Fuck off.

  • Wow. And to think people wonder why we couldn't win an election to save our lives until Orange Foolius Sneezer managed to finagle the EC votes to become Il Duce Lite.

    Almost every poster on here proves why – "You're to blame! The olds are still too prominent! You're all too compromised, you bunch of neoliberal corporate shills! Time to bring in some young blood!"

    "That's because you young whippersnappers don't have what it takes! You're all a bunch of soft slackers! Our bench isn't deep enough to commit to public office, because you don't have the guts to compromise some of your purity and buckle up to put your idealism on the line! Where the hell were you eighteen months ago, when we needed you?"

    Etc., Etc., Etc. Meanwhile, the GOP silently lines up cryptofeudal money and religious right votes behind their latest Nutter Du Jour and cleans our clocks in the general election.

    Why do we constantly look for scapegoats to blame, instead of learning from our errors and uniting around a candidate ourselves?

    Hillary Clinton's loss was not due to her inability to round up votes, or her age – it was errors in how to market the first serious female candidate for a major party for President. It was the triumph of setting up the Clintons to fail for a quarter-century through a constant barrage of negative media attention, which finally paid off when an FBI director screwed up and actually listened to it due to a series of minor security gaffes, which dropped her popularity just enough to blow it in swingy states.

    It was not even the number of popular votes, but their *distribution* – a screw-up by her campaign that anyone who followed her election advisors could have seen from a mile off as it was exactly the same mush-headed strategy that lost her the 2008 primaries to a little-known Senator from Illinois. They did not help by allowing Democrats to self-criticize in swing states, rather than reinforcing them with some firm but fair steel.

    What's the worst part is that this election should not even have been close – but Democrats *sit on their hands* when they bicker. Hillary Clinton's election should have been a triumph, a historic curb-stomping of the GOP for nominating a man whose mindset is that of a petulant 19th century robber baron heir combined with a Gauleiter – but things conspired for us to self-sabotage. I personally don't think HRC should run for President again – the Clinton line is just too compromised at this point, no matter how sympathetic I feel to HRC personally (unless Chelsea wants to give it a shot in 15 years or so). She also has the not-so-minor problem of getting some really crap-bag campaign advisors, which may or may not be her fault.

    Blaming young people for idealism (or naivete), or middle-aged/old people for their pragmatism (or cynicism) misses the point. Democrats look for excuses NOT to support our candidates. There are a few reasons we should reject them for (John Edwards, anyone?) but as a rule, we tend to put very good ones forward. For the most part, they deserve support. We just need more of them. The Grifters' Old Petrocrats look for excuses to continue to support theirs no matter how morally, ethically, or even legally compromised they are. They have tried to wall off Trumpy from prosecution, throwing pails of Teflon paint on him to keep him safe, building a cult of personality to try to head off what would otherwise be inevitable.

    We have to begin to unite as soon as the last ballot is cast in the primary, as the alternative is a divided electorate that our shallow excuse for a press will jump on as soon as they notice. Our problem wasn't Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders or even Hillary Clinton – it was that our worst publicists lay inside our heads, and we let them talk to others all the time. We fed our victory straight into the our jaws of defeat.

  • @ ekim:

    I think that I've rarely had the opportunity to vote for a pol that I liked. I've always voted for the person who is the least venal, imo. That person has never been a republican.

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