The Geriatric Party

Quick, name a nationally prominent Republican who is under 60 years of age. Those paying even minimal attention to the political game can likely name Tim Scott (52), Marco Rubio (46), Mia Love (48), Ted Cruz (46), Rand Paul (54), and Trey Gowdy (51) among others.

Today’s Republican Party has something the Democrat Party is lacking: youth. Some of the would-be up-and-comers in the Democrat Party have had enough of being stymied and pushed to backbench status.

A recent Fox News column, “Pelosi bid to regain House speaker role facing new threat from rebel Democrats,” has shined a spotlight on what many in Democrat strategist circles will clandestinely confess is a mounting issue -- those in the spotlight, who have with firm control of funds, fundraising, and messaging are old: "A rebel group of Democrats in the U.S. House is pushing a petition to change party rules for electing their speaker -- in what is viewed as a bid to stop current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi from regaining her former role."

A younger generation of Democrats is saying to the old codgers, "Move out of the way and let someone else have the reins!” Or at least let us touch them once in a while.

Many Democrats are presuming a retaking of the House in November. If that happens, the old guard fully intends to reseat 78½-year-old Pelosi -- who's been in D.C. for 26 years -- back into her former speakership role. As evidenced by Congress’s most senior member, Diane Feinstein, also running for re-election, the elder Democrats refuse to let go.

Today’s crop of nationally prominent Democrats, those whose faces are broadcast into America’s living rooms via the nightly news, includes Nancy Pelosi (78), Diane Feinstein (85), Chuck Schumer (68), Maxine Waters (80), Elizabeth Warren (70), Dick Durbin (74), Bernie Sanders (76 -- technically an Independent, not a Democrat), and the list goes on, causing such bulwarks as the New York Times to plead with the party to “Make Way for Young Democrat Leaders” earlier this summer.

Part of the vigor among Democrats seeing sweeping victories in November stems from a larger number of Republicans who’ve chosen not to return to Congress in 2019. In recent months as many as seven Republicans who are current committee chairmen have announced their intentions to retire from Congress. Many in media and Democratic circles are selling the narrative that it’s because they sense impending doom. Not true. It’s because the Republican caucus term-limits its chairmanships, and these have reached the end of their terms.

A piece in The Hill spotlights a key difference in how the Republican and Democratic caucuses operate, but a difference few are aware of: “The term-limit policy, put in place by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1994, was designed to keep the party from growing stale by regularly injecting new blood and fresh ideas into the mix.”

The GOP’s self-imposed rule is that legislators cannot serve more than six years as the party’s top lawmaker on a committee. Once a legislator has chaired a committee for six years they’re out and it is someone else’s turn. And the completion is permanent -- former chairs can’t return to committee member status for a year or two then run for chair again. They can chair another committee, but not the same one again. Democrats have no such rules and it’s showing up in a dire lack of youth in caucus leadership.

Apply the same question that opened this column to today’s Democrat Party leadership: quick, name a nationally prominent Democrat who’s under 60 years of age. The astute may be able to name Kamala Harris or Cory Booker (since both received considerable face time during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings), but that’s about it.

Where’s the youth? Blame, at least in part, a lack of (self-imposed) term limits. Democrats who pay dues early in their careers by carrying the water (i.e. providing necessary votes), one day ascend to the desired position of committee chair or senior member, then stay there… forever.

The “old guard” of Democrat legislators are from states or districts in which they cannot be unseated, and they aren’t going anyplace anytime soon. Imagine a young 46-year-old Democrat wins an election, has a dream of getting to D.C. and one day chairing a committee that’s chaired (when Dems are in power) by 70-year-old Elizabeth Warren. He or she has no hope of that chairmanship for another 10 or 15 years! These younger Democrats get to D.C., look up and realize that the old coots run everything, aren’t going anyplace and that they’re frozen out. The message to them is: “Give us the votes we need for 12 or 15 years, then you’ll get your shot. Maybe.”

We’ve heard of, seen, and know Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Tim Scott. They’re nationally prominent partially because they get a shot at the top much earlier in their careers. Democrats arrive at the top and stay there for decades. Which summarizes why the only Democrats seen speaking from a podium on the nightly news are old.

The situation caused the National Review to write a major piece titled “Old-Guard Democrats Refuse to Leave the Stage,” and subtitled “They’re keeping new leaders from emerging.” Should the Democrats retake the House and/or Senate in November, they will begin reseating committee chairs. Those in line for chairmanships will be the same cast of characters who occupied them the last time. Just like they were the time before that.

Are term limits a good thing? That debate rages on. But the Capitol Hill Republican Party took the step of self-imposing them twenty-five years ago, and it cannot be argued that the step hasn’t created some very noticeable separation and differences between the parties.

Quick, name a nationally prominent Republican who is under 60 years of age. Those paying even minimal attention to the political game can likely name Tim Scott (52), Marco Rubio (46), Mia Love (48), Ted Cruz (46), Rand Paul (54), and Trey Gowdy (51) among others.

Today’s Republican Party has something the Democrat Party is lacking: youth. Some of the would-be up-and-comers in the Democrat Party have had enough of being stymied and pushed to backbench status.

A recent Fox News column, “Pelosi bid to regain House speaker role facing new threat from rebel Democrats,” has shined a spotlight on what many in Democrat strategist circles will clandestinely confess is a mounting issue -- those in the spotlight, who have with firm control of funds, fundraising, and messaging are old: "A rebel group of Democrats in the U.S. House is pushing a petition to change party rules for electing their speaker -- in what is viewed as a bid to stop current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi from regaining her former role."

A younger generation of Democrats is saying to the old codgers, "Move out of the way and let someone else have the reins!” Or at least let us touch them once in a while.

Many Democrats are presuming a retaking of the House in November. If that happens, the old guard fully intends to reseat 78½-year-old Pelosi -- who's been in D.C. for 26 years -- back into her former speakership role. As evidenced by Congress’s most senior member, Diane Feinstein, also running for re-election, the elder Democrats refuse to let go.

Today’s crop of nationally prominent Democrats, those whose faces are broadcast into America’s living rooms via the nightly news, includes Nancy Pelosi (78), Diane Feinstein (85), Chuck Schumer (68), Maxine Waters (80), Elizabeth Warren (70), Dick Durbin (74), Bernie Sanders (76 -- technically an Independent, not a Democrat), and the list goes on, causing such bulwarks as the New York Times to plead with the party to “Make Way for Young Democrat Leaders” earlier this summer.

Part of the vigor among Democrats seeing sweeping victories in November stems from a larger number of Republicans who’ve chosen not to return to Congress in 2019. In recent months as many as seven Republicans who are current committee chairmen have announced their intentions to retire from Congress. Many in media and Democratic circles are selling the narrative that it’s because they sense impending doom. Not true. It’s because the Republican caucus term-limits its chairmanships, and these have reached the end of their terms.

A piece in The Hill spotlights a key difference in how the Republican and Democratic caucuses operate, but a difference few are aware of: “The term-limit policy, put in place by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1994, was designed to keep the party from growing stale by regularly injecting new blood and fresh ideas into the mix.”

The GOP’s self-imposed rule is that legislators cannot serve more than six years as the party’s top lawmaker on a committee. Once a legislator has chaired a committee for six years they’re out and it is someone else’s turn. And the completion is permanent -- former chairs can’t return to committee member status for a year or two then run for chair again. They can chair another committee, but not the same one again. Democrats have no such rules and it’s showing up in a dire lack of youth in caucus leadership.

Apply the same question that opened this column to today’s Democrat Party leadership: quick, name a nationally prominent Democrat who’s under 60 years of age. The astute may be able to name Kamala Harris or Cory Booker (since both received considerable face time during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings), but that’s about it.

Where’s the youth? Blame, at least in part, a lack of (self-imposed) term limits. Democrats who pay dues early in their careers by carrying the water (i.e. providing necessary votes), one day ascend to the desired position of committee chair or senior member, then stay there… forever.

The “old guard” of Democrat legislators are from states or districts in which they cannot be unseated, and they aren’t going anyplace anytime soon. Imagine a young 46-year-old Democrat wins an election, has a dream of getting to D.C. and one day chairing a committee that’s chaired (when Dems are in power) by 70-year-old Elizabeth Warren. He or she has no hope of that chairmanship for another 10 or 15 years! These younger Democrats get to D.C., look up and realize that the old coots run everything, aren’t going anyplace and that they’re frozen out. The message to them is: “Give us the votes we need for 12 or 15 years, then you’ll get your shot. Maybe.”

We’ve heard of, seen, and know Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Tim Scott. They’re nationally prominent partially because they get a shot at the top much earlier in their careers. Democrats arrive at the top and stay there for decades. Which summarizes why the only Democrats seen speaking from a podium on the nightly news are old.

The situation caused the National Review to write a major piece titled “Old-Guard Democrats Refuse to Leave the Stage,” and subtitled “They’re keeping new leaders from emerging.” Should the Democrats retake the House and/or Senate in November, they will begin reseating committee chairs. Those in line for chairmanships will be the same cast of characters who occupied them the last time. Just like they were the time before that.

Are term limits a good thing? That debate rages on. But the Capitol Hill Republican Party took the step of self-imposing them twenty-five years ago, and it cannot be argued that the step hasn’t created some very noticeable separation and differences between the parties.