How Do I Know My Youth Is All Spent?

by Michael Liss

In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire…. We’ll have term limits for Congress. And mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old. —Nikki Haley, age 51, announcing her candidacy.

William Henry Harrison, by Nathaniel Currier, 1841. From the National Portrait Gallery.

Yes, she did. Nikki Haley went there. Of course, her ostensible target is America’s best-known octogenarian (the guy with the malaprops and the Ray-Bans), but it could not be ignored that Former President Donald Trump tips the chronological scales at 76. Twenty months from now, shortly after the 2024 election, Joe will either be a jubilant 82-year-old; a grim, packing-the-china 82-year-old; or a wistful I-could-have-won-if-I-ran 82-year-old. Trump will be a 78-year-old Donald Trump—with title, without title, still a Donald Trump. In November of 2024, barring anything traumatic, these two will be whatever luck, genetics, and environmental factors cause them to be. If one of them also happens to be President-elect, then their issues will become our issues through 2028. That is something to ponder.

Haley may have been a bit blunt, in the process angering not only Former Guy, but perhaps potential supporters in Congress (roughly 1/3 of the Senate is at least 70), but the discussion of whether Dad should still be driving at night (or riding on Air Force One) is not an unreasonable one. We aren’t some sleepy principality somewhere, ruled by a hereditary monarch whose most impactful decisions involve whether we should subsidize domestic clock-making. This is a challenging world, and Dad needs to be up to it. There’s a terrific Ron Brownstein interview in The Atlantic of Simon Rosenberg of the New Democratic Network. Rosenberg notes, “But with China’s decision to take the route that they’ve gone, with Russia now having waged this intense insurgency against the West, the assumption that…[Western democracy] is going to prevail in the world is now under question…. [I]t’s birthing now… a different era of politics, where we must be focused on two fundamental, existential questions. Can democracy prevail given the way that it’s being attacked from all sides? And can we prevent climate change from overwhelming the world that we know?”

Those are big questions to answer, and most of us, unless our politics occupy a fringe, should be deeply invested in the answers. They are also truly multi-generational, with the biggest stakeholders being the younger cohorts. My Boomer generation can offer something in the way of experience and expertise, but we’ve had a lot of time to work on solutions, and our results speak for themselves—we absolutely must give multiple seats at the table to younger voters. And, at some point, and that point may have already been reached, my Boomer Generation needs to follow Nancy Pelosi and to give way entirely. “Senior leadership” does not automatically mean “Senior” leadership. Read more »

Quiet Plans to Steal the Election

by Mark Harvey

“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this–who will count the votes and how.” –Joseph Stalin

In the game of chess, there are dramatic moves such as when a knight puts the king in check while at the same time attacking the queen from the same square. Such a move is called a fork, and it’s always a delicious feeling to watch your opponent purse his lips and shake his head when you manage a good fork. The most dramatic move is obviously checkmate, when you capture the king, hide your delight, and put the pieces back in the box. But getting to either the fork or checkmate involves what’s known in chess as positioning, and for the masters, often involves quiet moves long in advance of the victory.

I wouldn’t compare Republican operators to a Garry Kasparov or Magnus Carlsen, but in several swing states that could determine the 2024 presidential elections, they are playing their own version of a quiet game and positioning to win the election by hook or by rook. As opposed to a Kasparov or a Carlsen, there’s nothing elegant about their strategy, and what they’re attempting to do is really an end-around any form of democracy. It involves the chess equivalent of mid-level pieces—bishops, knights, and even pawns–and in some cases, political positions you’ve probably never heard of.

The Republicans have taken a clinical look at the demographics, the voting trends, and the results of the 2020 election and concluded that a traditional play of just big money and ugly ads won’t do it next time. Yes, there will be a lot of ads with dark music, photoshopped images (using the darkening and contrast feature), and the menacing voice-over saying, “Candidate X wants to free all the criminals, raise your taxes to Venezuelan levels, and concede Texas to Russia.”

But to win in 2024, Republicans are working to change basic electoral rules, install vote counters and election judges, and make it much more difficult for those who would vote against their candidate to vote. You don’t have to be a grandmaster of politics to understand the plan and to see it happening in plain sight. But I fear that the average American voter, due to either the hazards of having a real life or lacking interest, is missing the beat. Read more »