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.
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 »