Richard Shelby of Alabama is 87 years old. Diane Feinstein of California is 88. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is 86. Vermont Senators Patrick Leahey and Bernie Sanders are 81 and 80 respectively. Chuck Grassley, who just announced that he is running for another six-year term, will be 89 if re-elected (and he will be re-elected.)
What happened to the United States? How can a person in their late 60s be considered a kid in the game of Washington politics? Chuck Schumer is a mere 70 while Mitch McConnell is only 79. What is wrong with that picture?
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is 81, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 82 and House Whip Jim Clyburn is 81. The two most likely presidential nominees in 2024 are Trump who will be 78 and Biden who will be 82. Someone like Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy, or Barack Obama would not have a shot in today’s geriatric America. Ronald Reagan would be considered too young.
We are a dying political society where there is no room for newer people to advance to Congress. America has atrophied into a gerontocracy like we once called the Soviet Union. What happens when the entire leadership is so aged that they cannot understand the problems of their constituents?
Chuck Grassley was born during the depths of the 1930s Depression. He went to school without ever knowing anyone who was not white. Radio was his technological medium growing up. I understand he still uses a typewriter. He was first elected to the Iowa House in 1958 before most current Iowans were even born. His grandson is the speaker of that house today. Is this the guy we want making our laws and guiding our nation?
The political class is not only getting older but wealthier. However, the elected representatives amass their money, this congress may be the wealthiest ever. How can they relate to a struggling young couple trying to buy a home or provide for their kids?
Perhaps that is why political results no longer matter…only political rhetoric. The act of saying it happened is just as important as actually accomplishing it. Fact is in the eye of the speaker or writer. It is all in how the game proceeds. “Own the libs.” “Bring down the Republicans.” Victory is in the claiming not the doing.
As the nation has moved from political parties representing something other than maintaining their control, Congress has become weaker and weaker. Passing legislation is almost impossible. Oversight hearings are farces and meaningless. We have a body of 535 members that can name post offices and little else.
The Framers did not intend for Congress to end up as a big nothing. They were supposed to be the pre-eminent branch of government. Instead, the membership has become nothing more than a self-preserving bunch of opportunists. Just look at Grassley who began his electoral career the same time I was going to first grade. I am now retired. Why isn’t he?
While much can be laid at the feet of our political institutions, none of this would be possible without the will of the voters who allowed this to happen. We are the spectators and fans who treat politics as entertainment instead of what it is…to preserve our freedoms. Is the best we can do is to have an old, immoral, reprobate as our president as the Republican nominee or someone that has not been at the top of his game for a couple of decades as the Democratic nominee.
Biden is failing because his Washington has not existed for 30 years. Maintaining the rules of the Senate are more important to him than moving the country forward. He, along with McConnell, have no intention of ever bringing us together and passing meaningful legislation. It is all about strategy and nothing about the purpose of government which is to govern for the betterment of the people.
Trump could not care less about anything but power. He annunciates no coherent philosophy and has no reason why he wishes to govern except to be called president. His entire life has been one big con with no substance, no beliefs, and no moral principles.
This is our nation today…bereft of purpose and incapable of self-governance. There are so many things that need to be fixed for a real democracy to resume, and I do not believe we can do so. The United States is not an ascending power on the world stage but a corrupt dying one.
Who is to take our place? China’s rise is unmistakable. Yet, they have so many internal problems that who would want them as an ally never mind a global leader. Russia is, at best, a local regional power that can cause problems but cannot offer solutions. Economically, the E.U. can step up but they are still a group of independent nations that chart mostly their own individual courses. What nation would depend on France or Germany to defend them?
I can see a second Civil War coming. It will not be neatly broken up by red and blue states. If violence does occur it will be by partisan groups trying to cause chaos and the disruption of society. How do you call out the troops when we have a 50/50 nation where the “enemy” is intermingled among us?
Where do we as a nation go from here to avoid that war? With not enough of us to take the anti-democratic threat seriously, I believe we will continue to slow roll into insurrection.