The Democrats’ Dinosaur Problem
In a more perfect world, politicians not subject to term limits would be, like other perishable goods, stamped with a “sell by” date. An electorally safe county, district, or reliably one-party state may convince some of them that theirs is a sinecure for life, but such self-reverence comes at a cost to the people they represent. As they stick around beyond their usefulness, and simple survival becomes their paramount concern, constituents are left with indifferent advocates, little more than glad handing automatons. They can even sometimes become real obstacles to the maintenance of sensible policy. Their attempts to shore up their waning influence and hold onto their prized perks, only work to crowd out abler aspirants coming off the non-stop assembly line of bright, ambitious office seekers.
Lest we be accused of practicing “ageism” (FYI: I’m no spring chicken myself), it’s necessary to add that the condition’s not always solely a function of advancing years. But alas, after stubbornly clinging to office for long periods, politicians -- even relatively younger ones -- develop a warmed-over, cosmetically salvaged look consisting of one part vanity to two parts desperation. Try as they might to appear fresh and earnest as when they first arrived on the scene, with each snooze-inducing congressional hearing or insipid Sunday TV appearance, it is a losing battle.
Like songwriters, politicians have a finite number of productive years, after which they’re just taking up space, replaying the old hits, and living off past glories. While this sort of on-the-job ossification commonly afflicts both political parties, it’s become particularly acute in the leadership of the Democrats these days.
On the surface, Democrats would appear to be basking in the sunlight. They continue to hold, albeit precariously, both houses of Congress. By hook or by crook -- let’s leave it at that for this writing -- they’ve managed to install their most prominent dinosaur (if you don’t count Hillary Clinton) in the Oval Office. The threat to end the Senate filibuster and its attendant court-packing implications seem to have effectively chased Chief Justice Roberts into some sort of judicial protection program. And the master/servant relationship (you pick which) the Dems have with the great mass of the media has made it possible to posit with a straight face that the elementary requirement of proving one’s identity before performing the most significant task of any responsible free citizen is, in reality, a racist act of voter suppression. While the freshly de-chaired Liz Cheney generously provides needed cover by whining incessantly about 2020 voter fraud being “THE BIG LIE,” Democrats single-mindedly work to federally codify and incorporate unverifiable mail-in ballots and other questionable COVID-inspired ballot security shortcuts into all future elections.
So at least in the first quarter of this year, Biden and the Dems appeared to have landed smack on the center of the fairway. The Trump vaccines and the natural immunity of previously infected people seemed to indicate that we are -- at least here in the U.S. -- at the tail end of the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, without undue interference, our economy was poised to strongly rebound.
All Joe had to do was sit back and observe the time-honored political tradition of taking full credit for his predecessor’s hard work, and he’d soon be putting for an easy birdie.
But no, that wasn’t quite “progressive” enough to suit the powers that be, whoever they truly are. Instead, they present us with their customized version of China’s early ‘60s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, an ideologically-driven economic and political makeover that would re-order American society by bulldozing any institution or convention that stands in its way. So we find that our southern border has effectively disappeared along with the now more critically vital Keystone XL pipeline; out of control inflationary spending is now the starting point of sham negotiations, threatening that aforementioned rebound while paying scant attention to the fact that for ordinary people, food, fuel, and building materials are steadily climbing in price.
Have half the country, Biden included, now become avid readers of Das Kapital or The Thoughts of Chairman Mao -- convinced internationalists who no longer recognize national borders nor private property rights?
While it’s beyond argument that socialist concepts have gained considerable sway among younger Democrats for years, it does not fully explain the Marxist mainstreaming that’s crept into the Dem caucus these days. Aside from its woeful ignorance of history (blame our schools for that one), there is something else at play, something that’s enabled the radicals to gain traction and considerably eased their path to influence.
In addition to their other shortcomings, Democrats have failed as a self-renewing political organism; neglecting to identify and promote a new generation of moderate, responsible leaders. The result is a reasonability gap, filled -- as moral voids tend to be -- by the reflexively unreasonable.
They’ve allowed their growing stable of over-the-hill dinosaurs -- the true “bitter clingers” -- to selfishly retain their roles at the head of the party way beyond their productive (fundraising not included) years. Consequently, new and talented personnel have been largely shut out of Dem leadership circles. The high echelon holdovers, self-obsessed and too weak to oppose the radical tide, have left the doors wide open for the bomb throwers.
In the House, like exhausted, overwhelmed grandparents of spoiled, unruly children, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn survive the din by indulging the likes of “The Squad” and various other squeaky wheel mediocrities who’ve defaulted their way to prominence in the absence of more promising talent. The Senate Democrats offer nothing better: Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin, and Patty Murray, worn out and bereft of ideas, hope to gain a political second wind by thumbing a ride on the radical “Change America” convoy, cravenly ignoring its soul-killing nonchalance towards violence and intimidation as ready political tools -- an ugly propensity we’re seeing practiced in our decaying cities way too frequently.
How revealing it is that Bernie Sanders -- a man who hasn’t entertained a new thought since Stalin planted it -- serves as the party’s ideological guide and guru. And to repeat, there’s no truer example of the political dinosaur species than our recently minted forty-sixth president.
The fossilization of Democrat leadership must serve as a lesson for Republicans. Unlike the Dems, they enjoy an abundance of outstanding young leaders on the local, state, and federal levels. They must be allowed to flourish and assume their rightful positions of authority within the party hierarchy; recognition they’ve earned through hard work, integrity, and competence.
As time marches on, dinosaur disengagement will be a recurring issue. Though it may seem callous on its face, regardless of past service, Republicans must see to it that their obstinate over stayers receive a dignified, but timely send-off -- for no better reason than to avoid the extinction towards which traditional, moderate Democrats appear inexorably headed.
Photo credit: YouTube screengrab (cropped)
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