Will No One Save Us from the Gerontocracy? – We are heading into another presidential election season and the gerontocracy is (slowly) moving into their standard position of demanding that we pay tribute to them by electing one of their members to the presidency.
Presently, unless something changes (and it might), the octogenarian Joe Biden and the septuagenarian Donald J. Trump appear poised to yet again become the nominees for their respective parties.
One can anticipate much shouting, squabbling, and name-calling from these two Old Timers as they attempt to cling onto power—and relevance—for their fleeting few years left on this increasingly miserable blue(ish) marble we call Earth.
Biden and Trump, in their coming campaign of age-induced inanities, remind me of the two Baby Boomers who ran my Home Owner’s Association and were suing each other over a property setback that separated their adjoining properties—all as they were purportedly running the HOA together.
It was so ridiculous.
Of course, everyone knows that Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history. And if he is reelected, he will eventually become the oldest president to have ever served for more than one term. Still, Trump is no Spring Chicken. Although, Trump is a few years younger and, unlike Biden, Trump belongs to the “younger” generation—the Baby Boom generation—as opposed to the Silent Generation which, in today’s terms, is downright ancient.
Nonetheless, the two men represent the force that has been driving (and doing great damage) to this country for the last 30 years: the older, Silent-Boomer Generation.
A History of Aging Absurdities
Think about it: the last two decent presidents the United States had were Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
While Bill Clinton was popular, his presidency was far from stellar. And from al Qaeda’s rise to the expansion of destructive neoliberal economics, Clinton certainly doesn’t come away looking all that great.
Nor does Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, who fancied himself a Reagan reincarnate but likely was the Republican Jimmy Carter—well-meaning but ultimately foolish who ruined the country and his party for a while. We’ll be paying for George W. Bush’s damage for generations.
Barack Obama was blessedly not a member Silent or Boomer Generation. He was Generation X. Alas, his political preferences, and the fact that he allowed himself to be coopted by the Washington Establishment almost immediately, meant that he governed more like a member of the Gerontocracy.
Donald Trump’s political instincts were certainly better than what his predecessors displayed. Trump’s age became a factor the longer he was in office. Yet, for a septuagenarian, even some of his harshest critics concur that Trump isn’t your typical old guy. He’s quite spry. And his heterodox ideology makes him a far more interesting candidate for president than the last few I mentioned.
So, while I am annoyed at seeing these grandpas and great-grandpas still duking it out over who will be our next president as opposed to who won their Retirement Home’s Bingo game, I—and most Americans—are less concerned about Trump’s old age is too much of a hindrance on him cognitively than Biden.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, makes almost everyone cringe. From talking to people on stage who aren’t there to forgetting his vice-president’s name, Biden does not fill one with confidence in his cognitive abilities.
The key linkage in these men, though, is that they were elected largely because of the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation vote.
Before that, the Greatest Generation dominated the discourse and decision-making processes of the United States. We were all better off for it.
What’s the Deal with Uncle Joe?
As someone who served in government concurrently with Joe Biden, I remember him well. Long considered a liar and a buffoon (or, at least an amiable dunce) by his colleagues, Biden could at least string together a sentence—and even occasionally make a decent policy suggestion.
For example, I fully agreed with his plan to partition Iraq in 2007. I supported his idea as vice president to pull most US military forces out of Afghanistan and focus only on counterterrorism missions would have saved us much heartache from 2011-2021.
That Joe Biden is gone, though, and isn’t coming back.
More than that, he looks genuinely confused at times. And his affect is strange. Biden was always grabby with people in public (he’s a product of the 1970s, after all). But his behavior these days is just strange. Like the lights are on but they’re getting dimmer and he’s grasping for a guardrail to get him through the increasing darkness—to no avail.
Trump is nowhere near this bad (for an old guy).
I think that voters intuitively understand this which is why Biden’s handlers are so conscientious about how and when he sees the press or makes a public statement.
Unlike Trump, who spoke off-the-cuff and frequently relished in engaging in a contretemps or two with the likes of Joe Acosta or Jonathan Karl, Biden avoids engagement with hostile press at all times. And the few times when he tries to take on hostile reporters, such as Fox News’ Peter Doocy, it rarely ends well for the president.
Why Donald Trump Gets Away with Old Age and Biden Doesn’t
In politics perception is power—and perception shapes reality. Trump is garrulous, absurd, and visceral in his public interactions. This leads most voters to assume that he is (at least mentally) younger than his actual age. Biden is bumbling, stumbling, and generally incoherent, which compounds the notion in the minds of the voters that there’s something wrong with him; that his mind has gone on a permanent vacation.
Despite these concerns, however, given the way that the country has surrendered its agency to the gerontocracy, it seems unlikely that 2024 will be when we get a new generation of leaders with fresh ideas. For that, we might have to wait until 2028, when the gerontocracy has literally exhausted itself to death.
In the meanwhile, we will have to suffer through the egotistical rantings of two elderly men who are well past their prime—particularly Joe Biden, who apparently thinks he’s still Obama’s vice-president (maybe he’s trying to tell us something).
Frankly, both Biden and Trump are too old to run. I say Congress should pass a law limiting the age of presidential candidates. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move beyond the Boomerism that has defined our politics for too long; I’m ready for something new and fresh.
The gerontocracy is destroying this country. Will no one save us from it already?
Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive.com. Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.