Doth Age Wither?
By Patrick F. Cannon
With the Democratic Party already feverishly trying to find a presidential candidate who can beat the hated Donald Trump, there has been a good deal of talk about whether some of them might be just a bit too old to take on the challenge.
As someone who has himself reached an age older than any of them, I can tell you that I would be reluctant to accept the minimum four-year commitment of running the free world (and I’d hate to lose my afternoon nap). This doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of doing a bang-up job – I’m taller than any of the top three, and just as well educated. By the top three, I mean of course Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and good old Joe Biden. I would describe the first two as doctrinaire and Joe as confused.
One of the hallmarks of old age is the conviction that one has finally discovered the wisdom of the ages. This is OK for someone like me, but is dangerous for a politician. Jimmy Carter is a perfect example of a President who had all the answers, but was a bit confused about the questions. Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren think they have found the secret formula for success. While their programs are somewhat similar, their styles are slightly different.
Warren was for many years a law professor. This has given her a talent for lecturing voters as if they were her students, not unlike President Obama. As with most professors, their version of the truth brooks no opposition. You want to pass the exam; you better listen up and regurgitate. While she doesn’t necessarily want to abolish Capitalism, she seems determined to jail all the capitalists. Dare I say that she believes you can legislate morality?
Like Professor Warren, Sanders is for free college tuition and Medicare for all. Unlike Warren and most of the other Democratic aspirants, he isn’t for these things to pander to the so-called “base”; he has always detested Capitalism as a committed Socialist should. In an office that demands flexibility above all necessary traits (think Franklin Roosevelt), Bernie has gotten more rigid with age.
What he would love to do is what has failed everywhere it was tried – punish the successful by taking their money and giving it to the wise government to redistribute as it sees fit. I’m sure he sees the Labor governments just after World War II in Britain, Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela as worthy examples. I must say that the people of Vermont seem to have exhibited a perverse sense of humor to have harbored a Brooklyn Marxist to their leafy bosom for so long. Kudos to them for being willing to share.
Joe Biden is just a bit younger than Sanders, but because he’s been around so long, he has managed to actually establish a record that his moral betters can now decry. Unlike Bernie, who managed to do almost nothing in his years in the Senate but yell at people (have you noticed that he spends most of his time yelling instead of speaking?), poor Biden committed the sin of working across the aisle to get needed legislation passed, then compounded the felony by spending eight years as President Obama’s loyal vice president, whose record he must now defend to that same carping base.
But who knows? Maybe the Democrats will decide that someone younger and less rigid might better appeal to the majority of voters who identify as Republican or Independent (by far the most numerous at 42 percent). It may also occur to some of them that if 80 percent of Americans are mostly happy with their health care that “Medicare for All” might be more of a nightmare than a dream.
This old fogey held his nose and voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I might be persuaded to vote for Joe Biden in 2020, but if the choice is Trump or Sanders, I might just spend the day playing Mah-jongg or Pickle Ball.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon