Monday, November 24, 2014

"Ideology & Age, as We Look Toward 2016"

                  Sydney M. Williams

Thought of the Day
“Ideology and Age as We Look Toward 2016”
November 24, 2014

A funny thing is happening on the way to the 2016 election. Youth, excitement and new ideas increasingly seem to be the province of Republicans. For decades – at least since Jack Kennedy – the Democrat Party has been the one associated with youth, vitality and concern for the needs of real people. However, with the long years they have spent in Washington, Democrats have morphed into a cynical, sanctimonious group of aging professional politicians. The smug Jonathon Gruber, now dismissed by Democrats for telling the truth, perfectly captured their Pecksniffian ways when he spoke of the “stupidity” of the average voter, of his and her inability to understand the magnanimity of what the Left was doing for the good of the common man. Process, despite being elemental to democracy, is irrelevant to these people. The end is all.

Democrats are driven by semi-contrived, elitist issues, like global warming (now called climate change since temperatures haven’t changed much in a decade and a half) and environmental issues, where they advocate products like electric cars and solar panels that only the elite can afford. They want wind farms, except not where they might interfere with their windsurfing on Nantucket Sound. They express concern regarding inequality, but not if it interferes with their remaining first among equals. They claim to want the best education (including free pre-K), as long as it doesn’t upset the teacher’s unions, or it doesn’t involve vouchers that might send the unwashed to the private schools where their own children are tucked safely away.

They have created victims where none existed. For example, not only is equality demanded in terms of scholastic outcomes, the federal government now requires public schools in Minneapolis to have equality in terms of punishment. In other words, on a pro rata basis African-American boys cannot be disciplined more than Asian girls, regardless of the natural inclination of the former to misbehave more than the latter. Democrats have re-lit the divisive fuse of racism, as a means of ensuring they keep the African-American vote.

The Left is more concerned with political power and personal wealth, than applying common sense to the problems that face the nation at home and abroad, and the problems individuals face. Despite “re-sets” and apology tours, the world is less safe than it was six years ago. At home, while the employment market is improving after more than five years of economic recovery, the workforce participation rate remains dismal. Public schools – the means by which the aspirant student from a middle class or poor family can advance – remain uncompetitive in the global market place.

Symbolism is more important than meaningful accomplishments. We see it in the passing of sweeping legislation, rather than addressing issues on a piece-meal basis. Dodd-Frank has made more opaque the rules for the financial world, thereby letting risks propagate like permitting banks too-big-to-fail to become larger, and therefore riskier. We have the symbolism embedded in a large and complex healthcare bill that admittedly has added millions of uninsured to the roles of the insured, but that also deprived others of their former insurance and disallowed millions from keeping their doctors, in spite of promises to the contrary. It was so complex that it had “to be passed to see what was in it,” and could only be passed because of a gullible and “stupid” electorate. We have the symbolism of immigration “reform,” which the President mandated unilaterally despite its insult to those who have arrived legally, and despite what it says about working with the new Congress. While the full consequences are not yet known, it would certainly appear to serve as a green light for other illegals to cross the border in hopes of amnesty. Worse, it sets back any hope for an overhaul of our immigration policy, which should be broadened, but with a focus on the aspirant and college educated, and with secure borders.

Age is relevant when considering the current Congressional leadership. In the Senate, Harry Reid at 74 is two years older than Mitch McConnell, and Nancy Pelosi is nine years older than John Boehner. Of course none of them are young. At 65 John Boehner is the most junior of the group. When we look at possible candidates for 2016, the age difference becomes striking. Hillary Clinton, as the Democrat front-runner, would be, at 68, the third oldest person to be inaugurated. She would be a few months younger than was William Henry Harrison. President Harrison is noted for having served in office the shortest time of any President. He died peacefully a month after inauguration in 1841. Joe Biden was born on November 22, 1942, so would be 74 on inauguration day, a full five years older than Ronald Reagan. Even Elizabeth Warren, better known as “Pocahontas” (or Pinocchio), would be 67, ranking her third behind Mr. Reagan and Mr. Harrison. In terms of Governors, Andrew Cuomo is a relatively youthful 56, but Jerry Brown is a well-seasoned 76, an age more suited for leadership in the old Soviet Union.

Republicans, in contrast, have a relatively young bench. There are eleven prominent Republican Governors (and former Governor, in the case of Jeb Bush), with an average age of 54, whose names have been mentioned at one time or another as possible Presidential contenders: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Mary Fallin, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Rick Snyder and Susan Martinez. (Republicans will nominate a governor in 2016, in my opinion.)

It is true that the last three Democrat Presidents were young men, while two of the last three Republican Presidents were older men. (Sunday’s New York Times noted: “With the exception of George W. Bush, every Republican nominee since 1976 has been over 60.) But Jimmy Carter came across as an impersonal technocrat, while Bill Clinton was ruthless with his enemies and exhibited the morals of a Billy Goat when it came to women. Barack Obama arrived with the promise of unifying a nation from a perspective of race, but instead has divided it in a way not seen since the late 1960s.

While youth has its advantages, age isn’t necessarily a detriment. After all it was Ronald Reagan the oldest person ever inaugurated as President who has been credited with bringing springtime to America, after the hoarfrost that surrounded his predecessor. George H.W. Bush was the fourth oldest to be inaugurated, but twenty-two years after he left office, on his 90th birthday, he parachuted out of a helicopter – not only the oldest President do have done so, but the only President ever to have parachuted. Both men were young in spirit, if not chronologically.

More detrimental than the fact that so many Democrat leaders are age challenged is their adamancy that Washington is for bulldozing, not for negotiating. It is in the emissions of their obstinacy that climatologists should be truly concerned. Their hypocrisy is suffocating. They know better than us. The people’s relationship with government is that of master-servant, but one in which the roles have been reversed. The people have become servant to their political masters. Republicans are not without guilt in this regard, especially some of the charlatans in Congress who spend most of their time denigrating their opponents. Like an Old Testament prophet, Ted Cruz humorlessly harangues the populace, dividing the nation as though he were parting the Red Sea.

The final nominees in both Parties, in my opinion (and especially after the current occupant), are likely to have some executive experience. Senators get more national news coverage than Governors. We hear more from Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Elizabeth Warren than from Scott Walker and John Hickenlooper who are actually trying to manage their states, a job more similar to running the federal government than being a bloviating U.S. Senator. Keep in mind, however, the two most important traits for a good President are not one’s prior job(s), age, depth of knowledge or even one’s native intelligence; they are character and judgment.

A price we pay for living in a democratic republic is having to endure never-ending campaigns, with their obfuscating orations and meaningless promises. Thomas Paine wrote in the early years of the American Revolution: “These are the times that try our souls.” Incessant campaigning tries mine, but it is a price worthwhile for the privilege of living in this great land.

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