Gerontology rules in U.S. politics
If anybody still doubted that the U.S. is getting closer to become a full-fledged gerontocracy, a look at those who rammed Brett Kavanaugh down the Supreme Court’s (and the country’s) throat should be more than enough to dispel it.
Gerontocracy is the “rule by elders,” according to Merriam-Webster, and the U.S. not only has a 72-year-old president (not exactly a spring chicken), but also a Congress with so many senior citizens that it already resembles a very expensive nursing home.
You probably remember the panel of 11 white male Republican senators, members of the Judiciary Committee, who questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who had the courage and the sense of civic duty to testify about Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her during their high school years. Not one single woman on the panel. It didn’t look good for the GOP.
Believe it or not, it’s even worse than that. Not one single Republican woman senator has been a member of the Judiciary Committee ever, the reason being, according to Chairman Chuck Grassley, that women don’t want to be there because it’s too much work.
“It’s a lot of work — maybe they don’t want to do it. My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we’ve tried to recruit women and we couldn’t get the job done,” Grassley told the Wall Street Journal on Friday. Yet, the Democratic Party did not have any problem finding four women willing “to do the work.” You can arrive at your own conclusions.
Some of the committee members look, and more importantly, think as if they could have been there since its foundation a couple of centuries ago. Chairman Grassley, 85, and Orrin Hatch, 84, are veterans who were part of the committee in 1991 when it subjected Anita Hill to a similar ordeal. Hill testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Patrick Leahy, one of the Democrats in the committee, and at 78 a mere teenager compared to his GOP colleagues, also participated in the Hill-Thomas hearings.
But the parade of elderly politicians doesn’t stop with Grandpa Trump, or Grassi, Hatch and Leahy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a beat up-looking 76, senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala) is 84, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla) 83, and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) 82. It’s time for them to retire, go home to their grandchildren, enjoy the so-called Golden Years and allow some fresh air into the stifling Congress atmosphere.
Let’s be clear: Most of these senior citizens, overwhelmingly white men, are not exactly loving, harmless grandfathers concerned about the well-being of the people. They are mostly devious political hacks willing to manipulate, deceive and do the president’s bidding even against their best judgment in order to hold on to power and push their agendas. The common good (oh, what an old-fashioned concept), the will of the majority, a level playing field, and equality before the law have all become quaint notions to be paid lip service to, but effectively dismissed and forgotten as inconvenient obstacles on the way of yet another reelection. This became even more evident during the circus-like Kavanaugh confirmation farce.
Their real problem is not old age, it is an obsolete mindset, an insatiable hunger for power, an anachronistic view of the world, an immoral and arrogant concept of themselves and their place in society, a fossilized brain. They have managed to put to rest forever the cherished belief that experience is always a good thing. Without a doubt, they have plenty of experience, but they use it to hold on to power and impose their will on the country even if it is not the will of the majority.
Of course, experience together with goodwill and an open mind can be very valuable to any elected official. A fossilized brain is not a problem affecting all those who, like me, are already approaching the end of their journey and much less, affecting only them. Just look at the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, for example, and I am sure you would agree.
The midterm elections are around the corner –November 6 – and by voting we can rein in the misogyny, greed and racism of the gerontology in power.