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Archive for September 25th, 2019|Daily archive page

YOUTH IS OUT! ALL HAIL THE GERONTOCRACY!

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 25, 2019 at 1:03 am

“Many Founding Fathers Were Shockingly Young When the Declaration of Independence Was Signed in 1776.”  

So read the headline of a July 5, 2014 story in Business Insider. 

On July 4, 1776, representatives of the original Thirteen Colonies met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to affix their signatures to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. 

Signing of the Declaration of Independence

Below is a list of the ages of key American Revolutionary figures on July 4, 1776.

  • Marquis de Lafayette, 18
  • James Monroe, 18
  • Henry Lee III, 20
  • Aaron Burr, 20
  • John Marshall, 20
  • Nathan Hale, 21
  • Alexander Hamilton, 21
  • George Rodgers Clark, 23
  • James Madison, 25
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr., 26
  • Edward Rutledge, 26
  • John Paul Jones, 28
  • John Jay, 30
  • Abigail Adams, 31
  • Anthony Wayne, 31
  • Thomas Jefferson, 33
  • James Wilson, 34
  • Benedict Arnold, 35
  • Samuel Chase, 35
  • William Paca, 35
  • Ethan Allen, 38
  • John Hancock, 39
  • Daniel Morgan, 39
  • Thomas Paine, 39
  • Patrick Henry, 40
  • John Adams, 41
  • Paul Revere, 41
  • Richard Henry Lee, 44
  • George Washington, 44
  • Martha Washington, 45
  • Josiah Bartlett, 46
  • Caesar Rodney, 47
  • Lyman Hall, 52
  • Samuel Adams, 53
  • Roger Sherman, 55
  • Philip Livingston, 60
  • Stephen Hopkins, 69
  • Benjamin Franklin, 70

Youth was a commonplace among the signers of the Declaration.

In the hit play (and later movie) 1776, several members of Congress—including Thomas Jefferson—are surprised to learn that John Adams—who’s 41—“burns” for his wife Abigail, who’s waiting for him in Boston, Massachusetts.

1776-musical.jpg

Today, a nation that once prized youth among its leaders is now moving toward government by gerontocracy.

The average age of members of the House of Representatives is 57.8 years. In the Senate, it’s 61.8—among the oldest in U.S. history.

With the 2020 Presidential contest now in full swing, the advanced age of most of the candidates has become a central concern for millions of Americans.

On Election Day, 2020, the following Democratic contenders will be: 

  • Vermont United States Senator Bernie Sanders: 79
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: 77
  • Massachusetts United States Senator Elizabeth Warren: 71
  • Minnesota United States Senator Amy Klobuchar: 60
  • California United States Senator Kamala Harris: 56
  • New York United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: 53
  • New Jersey United States Senator Cory Booker: 51
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke: 48
  • Former mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro: 46
  • Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard: 39
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 38 

Of these candidates, the oldest ones—Sanders, Warren and Biden—are most likely to win the Democratic nomination. 

Image result for elderly men walking

Opposing them will be President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election. On Election Day, he will be 74. 

To get an idea of where the United States is heading, let’s revisit the Soviet Union in the twilight of its 74-year existence.

In May 1982, 75-year-old General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, suffered a severe stroke. He had ruled the U.S.S.R. since 1964, but by the early 1980s he was essentially a figurehead. On November 10, 1982, he finally died of a heart attack.

Related image

The Kremlin

Succeeding Brezhnev was Yuri Andropov, 69, who until May had been chief of the KGB. 

Andropov suffered from kidney failure and was often on dialysis. By December, 1983, after barely more than a year in office, he  was totally bedridden. On February 9, 1984, he joined Brezhnev at the great Party Congress in the sky. 

Andropov had realized that the Soviet Union needed a younger and more energetic ruler. Not long before he died he suggested that Mikhail Gorbachev, his aide, succeed him.

But the Central Committee instead chose Konstantin Chernenko, who, at 72, was older than Andropov. On February 13, 1984, he became the U.S.S.R.’s third leader in a year and a half. 

Suffering from emphysema, occasional heart failure and liver disease from alcohol, Chernenko died on March 10, 1985.

Only then did the Kremlin rulers decide to choose a General Secretary who was likely to live more than one or two years. One day after Chernenko died, the Politburo chose Gorbachev, a relatively young 54.

Gorbachev survived to retire as President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991.

So what does this mean for old men and women seeking the White House?

According to Dr. Michael Roizen, presidents effectively age twice as fast while in office. Roizen, a chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and co-founder of RealAge.com, bases his opinion on his research of medical records of previous presidents, back to Theodore Roosevelt.

“The main cause is what we call unrequited stress– they don’t have enough friends to mitigate the stress. The major way most of us handle stress is through a number of techniques, but the most prominent way is to discuss it with friends.  

“The problem with presidents is, some of them lose friends, and the closest friend they have is usually the spouse.”

Thus, a person who has been president eight years has the risk of disability or dying of someone who is 16 years older.  When you’re already in your late 60s or early 70s, that doesn’t give you much room for risk-taking. 

Of course, given America’s Politically Correct social norms, pointing out the disadvantages of combing extreme age with extreme pressure is taboo for many persons. 

Julian Castro found this out when, in a recent debate, he questioned Joe Biden’s mental acuity. 

“In a cultural way, it shocked me,” said Gerson Borrero, a New York City political commentator. “We respect our elders—there may be a point where we smile at their ‘disparates’ (gaffes), but at the same time we stay respectful.”

That does not, however, make such truths magically disappear.

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