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The Useful Veneer of the Aging Democrat

Joe Biden is now 80 years-old. He will be 82 when he campaigns for the 2024 presidency—and a clearly debilitated 86 should he be elected and fill out his second term. He has been in government for over a half-century. 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and current representative from California is 83. 

Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the second-ranking Democratic House member behind Pelosi, was House majority leader until early this year. He is 83, and has been an elected official for nearly 60 years. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is 72, with 48 years in elected government. 

Democratic luminary and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is 89, and ailing—after 53 years as an elected official. 

James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is House minority whip and 82. 

These are the official faces of the Democratic Party. 

They came into power and maturity three decades ago during the Clinton years of 1993-1999.   

Decades ago, they sometimes supported strong national defense, secure borders, gas and oil development, fully funding the police, and a few restrictions on partial-birth abortions. 

Not now. 

Their role has changed from that of liberals of the Clinton era to serving as the thin power-holding veneer that masks the new real Democratic Party. 

The party has been changed beyond recognition by Senators Bernie Sanders  (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the so-called Squad, the Congressional Black Caucus, newly elected senators like the Georgia duo of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock—and Antifa and Black Lives Matter. 

Yet Biden and company are still familiar American faces. 

Their final role is to acculturate the electorate to the new Democratic Party. 

Its radicals are breathing down their necks to get out of the way. Yet for a while longer they still need such an ossified veneer of respectability to ease the transition to what is now essentially a socialist-European green party. 

This new Democratic Party believes in defunding the police. 

It supports the George-Soros-funded state and city district attorneys. 

These prosecutors seek either to release violent criminals without bail or reduce their felonies to misdemeanors. 

Critical legal and race theories are their creeds. So they argue that crimes have little to do with individual free will. 

Criminals are not deterred by tough enforcement of the laws. Instead, “crime” reflects arbitrary constructs of a racially oppressive hierarchy. 

They believe the woke revolution of using race and gender in lieu of a meritocracy should dominate government and corporate boardrooms. 

Racial separation in graduations, dorms, and university programs are needed reparations. 

Big Tech is their ally. All the better when it partners with government, especially the FBI and CIA, to suppress “misinformation” and “disinformation.” 

They believe gender is socially constructed. Thus transitioning biological males can and should compete in women’s sports. 

They want a Green New Deal right now, one that calls for the abolition of natural gas and oil for electricity generation and transportation. 

Abortion is seen as a God-given right—even as a baby passes through the birth canal. 

Climate change is their religion, trumping any concern for the viability of the middle-class suffering from inflation, high interest rates, and recession. 

They want semiautomatic rifles to be banned. Concealed handgun permits should be almost impossible to obtain. 

The more voters skip Election Day through mail-in balloting and early voting, the better. 

There is no longer “dark money,” only useful “correct” money. 

The more that Silicon Valley and Wall Street grandees quietly reroute hundreds of millions of dollars into hard-Left PACs and “nonpartisan” causes, the more the donors should expect lucrative crony-capitalist green deals and government concessions. 

Much of the ideology of the new Democratic Party arose in academia, like critical race theory and modern monetary theory. The giveaway word is “theory”—a mask for any absurd doctrine that can be dressed up as a sophisticated new idea. 

When Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the new Democratic minority leader in the House or Elizabeth Warren in the Senate advocates these positions, the voters recoil. That pushback is understandable, since almost none of these notions polls above 50 percent. 

The role of a calcified Biden, Pelosi, Feinstein, Hoyer, or Clyburn is to reassure voters through their notoriety and apparently staid exteriors that they are hardly the sort to embrace revolution, although that is exactly what they do. 

 “Ol’ Joe” Biden’s old guard and the new hard Left play a game of mutual advantage. 

The new majority of radical Democrats allows the old fogies to bask in the limelight until they drop—exempt from counter-revolutionary criticism or interparty primary challenges or demands to retire.  

In return, the codgers reassure the nation that old faces like theirs cannot possibly be polyester revolutionary socialists—despite their role in airbrushing and photoshopping the radical catastrophe unfolding before our eyes.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen, and the forthcoming The End of Everything (May 7, 2024).

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