A Party of Very Old Men and Women?

As a person now of many accumulated  years, I am not one to denigrate anyone being fully active in the senior stage of his career, but I cannot help but observe that one of the nation’s two major political parties is now being run, and offering to be run in the future, by almost exclusively some very old men and women.

The exception in the Democratic Party is the current President, Barack Obama, 53, and most of those on his White House staff.  They unfortunately have recently been massively rejected by
the American voters.

Just re-elected to their leadership posts in the U.S. House and Senate, and also enormously unpopular, are Nancy Pelosi, 74, and Harry Reid, 75.  The party’s leading candidates so far for the 2016 presidential election are Hillary Clinton, who will be then 69; Jerry Brown, 78; Joe Biden, 74; Elizabeth Warren, 67;  and  Bernie Sanders, 75.  Only Andrew Cuomo, 58, who may not run, will be under 60.

Contrast that with the Republican Party.  House Speaker John Boehner is 65.  Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell is 72.  Not exactly youngsters, but looking at the most likely GOP presidential contenders in 2016, you have Chris Christie, who will be 53; Jeb Bush, 63; Paul Ryan, 46; Rand Paul, 53;  Scott Walker, 49; Bobby Jindal, 45; Ted Cruz, 46; Mike Pence, 57; Marco Rubio, 45; and  Susana Martinez, 57.

There are, of course, some promising Democrats who are  under 60, just as there are significant Republicans over 70.  But I’m talking about the comparative leadership of both  parties – i.e., those who now have the most say in what each party tells the nation it stands for, and most significantly, those who are likely to run for president.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker and presidential candidate, is 71.  Like him or not, no one could credibly argue that he doesn’t have more thoughtful new ideas than any other politician in either party.  Bill Clinton is 68; he is still the most popular and engaging national Democrat.  Like Gingrich, he has been out of office for more than a decade.

The Democrats by 2012 had become the party that appealed most to young Americans.  In 2014, that lead was diminished but remained on the liberal side.  But what will happen in 2016 when the Democratic Party offers up only some very old men or women, and the Republican Party offers up much younger figures?

Barry Casselman has reported on American politics since 1972.  His Prairie Editor blog is at www.barrycasselman.com.

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