You’re Only as Young as You Are
By Patrick F. Cannon
In an effort to buoy our spirits at this time of the year, the print and broadcast media search out heartwarming storiesto at least try to give some balance to what has been a typically gloomy year – war in Ukraine, famine in Africa, inflation, and Donald Trump announcing his candidacy for president in 2024. Closer to home, Chicago’s professional sports teams have been uniformly mediocre; even my alma mater, Northwestern, had its second losing season in a row.
So, it’s all to the good that the media find positive stories, of which, thank God, there are no lack. Let me remind you that Americans are the most generous people on earth. In 2021, donations reached $485 billion; on a per capita basis, nearly twice as much as the second most generous country, New Zealand. Americans are also generous with their time, leading the developed world in that category as well, with New Zealanders again second.
But some news stories have both positive and negative aspects (you know, the “good news, bad news” conundrum). . You may have missed it, but the voters in Florida’s 10th Congressional District elected Democrat Maxwell Frost in November. When the new Congress convenes in January, he will be its youngest member, at 25 years and 351 days. The Constitution requires members to be at least 25, so no problem. (The youngest member of all time was William Charles Cole Claiborne, who was a mere 22 when he was elected in 1797. Despite the Constitutional requirement, he was seated anyway!).
So, the good news for young Frost is he got elected at such a young age. The bad news – as reported by the New York Times – is that his credit rating is so bad he’s having trouble renting an apartment in Washington. One of the reasons for this embarrassing state of affairs is that he maxed-out his credit cards running for office, despite getting a donation from another up-and-coming young fellow, Sam Bankman-Fried. It may now be too late to touch him for another donation.
Frost is of Afro-Cuban heritage, probably an advantage in Florida. Aside from being an Uber driver, he has been primarily employed as an organizer, most notably for March for our Lives, which advocates for stricter gun control. He also did a stint at the American Civil Liberties Union. He “attended” Valencia College, but doesn’t seem to have graduated. Of course, neither did Abraham Lincoln or Harry Truman, who didn’t go at all. For the record, the universities with the most representation among congressmen and senators are Harvard, Stanford and Yale. Do they share the blame for the mess we’re in? or is it just a coincidence?
As you may know if you’re a regular reader, I think Joe Biden will be too old to run again. Ditto Donald Trump, although he’s also burdened with other handicaps. Since I’m 84, I think I have some perspective. While I’m perfectly capable of doing this blog, and even writing what will be my eighth book, could I lead the country and the so-called free world? I don’t think so, and I think President Biden – at a mere 80 — has shown himself to be not quite up to it.
So, if you can be too old to hold high office, can you be too young? In general, I think the answer is “yes.” I see nothing in Frost’s background to suggest he has the kind of experience that would give him perspective on the needs of the broader country. He will no doubt become a member of the “Progressive Caucus” of his party, along with the Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her “squad.” By the way, for what it’s worth, he was endorsed by both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and will represent Orlando, which includes Disney World and all those other fantasy lands. I wonder if Goofy voted for him?
While I think he lacks the experience to be an effective legislator, I must admit he shines brightly in contrast to the 34-year-old newly elected Republican congressman from New York’s Second District, George Santos. Santos lied about almost everything one could lie about to get elected — his education, employment, ethnic background, marriage history; I could go on and on. Look him up for all the gory details (which the vaunted New York media failed to discover until after the election). Despite the marriage, he’s the first openly gay Republican.
Will he be seated when the new Congress convenes on January 6? You would think not, but Kevin McCarthy might need his vote to become speaker. He has overlooked much in the last few years to become speaker, why not this?
Happy New Year!
Copyright 2022, Patrick F. Cannon