A thought for Sunday: the Rule of Gerontocracy
A thought for Sunday: the Rule of Gerontocracy
The US looks like government of, by, and for senior citizens.
President Donald Trump just had his 72nd birthday. He assumed office at age 71, the oldest person ever to do so.
In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is 75 years old. His Democratic counterpart, Charles Schumer, is a relatively spry 66. The median age of US Senators is 63. A full 30 Senators are age 70 or older. Sixteen of them are over 75. Nine are over 80!
The oldest, Diane Feinstein of California, is 84 years old and just announced that she intends to run for re-election. Should she win, by the end of her term, she will be 91 years old — if she survives. The average life expectancy for an 85 year old woman is 6.9 years. In other words, she will have nearly a 50% chance of dying in office before she completes her term.
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Ryan is the baby of the group at age 47. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 77. The average House member is 57 years old, the oldest average ever. Over 30% of the Members are age 65 or older. Over 15% are over 70. Twelve Members are over 80!
The median age of Justices of the Supreme Court is 67. Two Justices are over 80. One is 79. In the 19th Century, the average Justice served about 10 years. Now they sit on average close to 25 years.
In short, the majority of the leadership of all three branches of the US government are old enough to collect Social Security and Medicare.
Forget Boomers, most of the US leadership belongs to the Silent Generation, and formed their basic political opinions in the 1950s during the days of Ike and Senator Joseph McCarthy, and when court-ordered racial integration was just beginning. And it shows.
In survey after survey, when it comes to social justice issues, the older the person, as a general rule the more conservative their opinions. Here is the demographic breakdown on attitudes towards gay marriage:
And here is the breakdown as to immigration:
Since people over age 45 are the most likely to vote in midterm elections:
these are the age groups who are having their views enacted.
And when it comes to partisanship, the most reliably conservative, Republican generation has been the Silent Generation (along with the tail end of the Boomers and the early Gen X, who came of age during the stagflationary 1970s):
While, as the chart shows, the late “Greatest Generation” leaned blue, but they have almost all passed from the scene. Thus the midterm elections have been dominated by an extremely conservative electorate. They have elected people in their own age group. And the politicians they elected are serving their interests.
This is government of, by, and for the elderly: rule by gerontocracy.
Agree with a lot of this, but the “formed their basic political opinions in the 1950s during the days of Ike and Senator Joseph McCarthy” is a huge stretch.
McCarthy was censured 63 years ago, he died 60 years ago. Thinking not a whole lot of these Senators, even the older ones, formed anything while he was in power.
Trump is also solidly a boomer, and I think honestly far worse than his predecessors. The “leaders” in his age group are horribly corrupt, selfish, and rotten to the core.
Trump was born in June 1946 or at the start of the Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers have mostly been Dems over the years.
Taken from a Pew Study: Wider partisan and ideological gap between younger, older generations.
I’m 75 and my oldest memory of politics is the McCarthy hearings.
They were broadcast live on TV and as a grade school age kid they just seemed to unfair to be believed.
New Deal Dem
I suppose then that if the next election is Ryan vs Sanders (Bernie, not the Colonel) you would have us vote for Ryan because of his youth and new ideas.
The lead damaged generation is at about maximum political influence.
They are dumber and more aggressive than ordinary humans.
talking about a “generation” as if all it’s members shared a trait that all members of your own generation are “better than” is a style of thinking that would be called racist if you were talking about skin color or ethnic origin.
but don’t feel bad, racist style thinking is pretty much the Darwinian facts of life, and probably a necessary consequence of the limitations of how a brain can organize reality. that means you and me brother.
as it happens i am a member of that generation and i am holier than thou. it has a lot to do with the experiences and conditions faced by people at any given point in history, but “dumb and aggressive” describe every generation in American history at least, and in every other nation’s history that i am aware of.
my generation came out of the war determined to not let it happen again and focused on (among other things) the evils that racism led to. so your generation has the advantage of the insights we had and the way we tried to bring you up. unfortunately we were unable to change basic human (basic biological) behavior, so you suffer from your own style of racism and don’t know what to call it… you usually think of it as your own identity group’s superior virtue.
you and i are no less dumb than other humans. some humans appear dumb to us because they channel their intelligence into their aggression. and the only reason we appear less aggressive than them is that Darwin in his wisdom provided that the losers of the struggle for dominance adopt a self preservation style of “meek and mild” to avoid being killed by the more aggressive. given the chance, the meek and mild always turn out to be killers in their turn.
i think this can be mitigated to some extent, but probably not by people running around and pointing at other people and calling them names. though of course that does help create a group solidarity that may be helpful in resisting the current prevailing form of evil.
and for the record, Joe McCarthy was a member of the generation before Trump’s, and he was censured by members of his own generation.
I happened across the lead exposure vs Street crime data again and it occurred to me ‘those kids are 40+ in the US now’.
Of course it never was everyone.
But averages matter for control in a democracy.
I generally agree that ‘generations’ are a more harmful way to at things that not.
Think of things
of course i have no idea what you mean by “think of things”
but i rather expect that those lead exposed kids have much to do with
democracy much less policy
or even the propaganda that encourages us to believe “we” have anything to do with serious policy.
i don’t know who “controls” in a democracy, but i don’t think it is us, or even “them.”
Correcting a typo.
a couple more names for you genontocracy:
bob dylan and joan baez are both 76.
they clearly had an influence on the old fogeys all voting for trump.
well, what can you expect from greedy grannies.