Close your eyes. Imagine the smell of Clubman Hair Tonic and talcum powder. Now open your eyes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 78, steps to the podium in the well of the Senate to congratulate Vice President Joe Biden, also 78, on his yet uncounted electoral victory. His famously inelastic skin falls in folds off his cheekbones and chin as he intones, “The Electoral College has spoken.”
Unaware that he recites a flaw not a virtue, McConnell continues, “The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He has devoted himself to public service for many years.”
Almost 50 years. C’mon, man!
The United States of America is a gerontocracy. Donald Trump may not be president come January 2021, but there are steps you can take now to reform our aging (and incompetent) national government. Turn your attention, and your disappointment, for the moment to the restoration of government of the people, for the people, and by the people who can expect to be here ten years from now.
First, a little gerontology.
The White House-Capitol complex has become Geezer’s Palace. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is 80. If McConnell is still leading a majority in the Senate—a big if, given his conduct on December 15—the Biden-Pelosi-McConnell triumvirate collectively will be 236 years old. Its average age will be 78.6 years old.
The most trusted name in the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be celebrity hound Dr. Anthony Fauci, 79.
Fully half of the Senate is 65 or older. If the Senate were a private-sector institution, a full 50 of them would be ready for their commemorative watch, not sticking their fingers deeper into your future.
Chuck Grassely (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are 87. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) is 86. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) are 80. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is 79. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are 77. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is 76, as is Angus King (I-Maine).
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is 75, and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and his freckled friend, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), are 74. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are 73. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) solos in the 72 category. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are 71.
Jack Reed (D-R.I.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Patricia Murray (D-Wash.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) are 70. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) are closing their seventh full decade at 69. John Kennedy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and John Barrasso (D-Wyo.) are 68. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are 67.
On the younger side, Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Shelly Moore Capito (D-W.Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) have each done 66 laps around the sun. If Mark Warner (D.-Va.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) were playing the Game of Life, they would be pulling into Countryside Acres, on the next spin. They are 65.
Another 18 senators are 60 or over.
The House is better, but not by much. I will spare them—and more importantly, you—the naming of names, but 151 representatives are over 65. Twelve over 80. Seventy two are between 70 and 79. Sixty nine are between 65 and 69.
This gerontocracy is threatening our nation’s future. These gerontocrats are unfamiliar with many aspects of the modern world, and given the rupture of intergenerational ties in the United States, generally unacquainted with interests other than their own.
There is no sign that older Americans generally appreciate that tech in the United States has been diverted from improving our lives to triggering dopamine addictions. They think drugs come in pills and bottles because, by and large, they do not use social media. Indeed, many believe trains are coming back. They are worse than the young at distinguishing fact from opinion.
Conscious of their own risks, older Americans have been silent about or encouraged pandemic responses that have throttled the education of the young and the fortunes of the small business owner, while stocks, in which older Americans are heavily invested, have soared. Meanwhile, they have shown little interest in restricting their own freedoms.
Older Americans have become conceited. Dr. Deborah Birx, herself 65, claimed on March 16, “We’re protecting the ‘greatest generation’ right now.” Retirement-age physician, heal thyself. The heroic Greatest Generation effectively is no longer with us. The Silent Generation and the Boomers—not the heroic World War II generation—have the reins.
What can you do? Write your Democratic congressman and implore them, do not re-elect Pelosi as speaker of the House. In Georgia, it’s OK if the GOP loses the runoffs. (With ballot harvesting already in place, and McConnell’s spirit-breaking celebration of a President-elect Biden, it is almost certain anyhow.) Not having McConnell as the majority leader would be a good thing. Packing the court will not make a difference. The conservative majority of the current court is not going to stand up against the living Constitution philosophy anyhow. At least a packed court would be younger.
Biden is not well. He is so afraid of COVID-19 he did not campaign and plans a virtual inauguration. His cognitive decline is evident. He is mired in a massive corruption scandal. Call for his immediate resignation, even as that may mean the elevation of Kamala Harris. You may not like her politics, but you will get those politics anyway with Biden, along with age-related crazy. And we need younger people in office—now.
Complain whenever you see a person over 65 exercising influence in government, whether it is in the bureaucracy or in elected office.
The etiquette of deferring to age has to give way for a time until age again defers to youth and the future.