The old adage “age is nothing but a number,” may ring true in some cases, (a few cases  anyhow). That being said, we have to pretty either pretty naive or imperviously immune from logic to believe that it is a totally irrelevant factor in the larger scheme of things. Does the following information tell you anything?

Recent Republican Presidents

Dwight Eisenhower – 62

George H. Walker Bush – 64

Gerald Ford – 61

Ronald Reagan – 69

Recent Democratic Presidents

John F. Kennedy – 43

Bill Clinton  – 46

Barack Obama – 47

Jimmy Carter  – 54

This tells me plenty. One does to need to be the most intuitive person to recognize that there is a pattern in the method of how each major political party selects or rather, elects its candidates. The Republican party, the party of Abraham Lincoln (though it has moved considerably far from its abolitionist and social justice roots in the past, half century) radically far to be blunt about it! It is the party that selects elder, gray haired  statesmen to head their party. On the contrary, the Democratic party, has tended to install young, early middle aged men as their party’s commander-in-chief.

age factor

Julian Castro — pic by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

As to why this is the case is an issue that is certainly up for debate, though personally, I am not convinced that it requires an ample amount of ruminating. Since the post World War II years, the GOP has been associated with cultural moderation(social conservatism came along later) and fiscal diligence .That being said, the arch neoconservative administration of George Bush Jr., ardently and convincingly dispelled such a previously held myth. Religious piety and big business have also been dominant factors as well. Voters who are attracted to such values tend to be older, religious, more seasoned and set in their ways and thus more inclined to gravitate to a political party and form of politics that epitomize such characteristics.

“the Democratic party, has tended to install young, early middle aged men as their party’s commander-in-chief.”

Whereas, topics such as wealth redistribution, environmental rights, minimum wage, identity politics, racial justice, access to quality education , gender equality and other progressive minded/ issues have been cornerstone subjects for democratic activists especially since the early 1970s. Voters who subscribe and gravitate to such concerns are more likely to be younger, perhaps more secular, (not so much with Black voters) urban and more receptive to change and evolution. These are the citizens who are more inclined to identify with a political party who espouses such rhetoric. Reproductive rights are an issue of major concern (with dramatically different intentions) for many members of both parties.

As we move closer to the 2020 election season and as the field of democratic candidates continues to winnow, it will be interesting to see how those who are still in the race will manage to navigate and handle abrupt and unexpected circumstances. If the past few weeks are any indication, senator Joe Biden seems to running low on fuel. The truth is that running for president is  no doubt a tiresome process that can wear down even the most vibrant, robust, energetic human being. Biden is brazenly demonstrating the difficulties of such an arduous task. He comes across as sluggish and lethargic. His campaign has become increasingly mired in old controversies over past positions and ongoing misstatements. His three debate performances have been mediocre at best. Moreover, his campaign rallies have drawn sparse attendance  compared to several of his competitors, most notably fellow septuagenarians, Elizabeth Warren age 70 and Bernie Sanders, age 78.

Some people may argue that at this stage of the contest, focusing on crowd size is somewhat misguided. Perhaps, but Biden is presumed as being the undisputed front runner being. Diminutive sized crowds even at this elementary stage of the game is cause for alarm and does not bode well for him.

His supporters will point to the fact that his ample years (decades in fact) spent in Washington in the senate, his association with former President Barack Obama,  immense likability among Black voters and older voters and affable personality are all tremendous assets. The aforementioned two points are more complex than Biden fans may realize. While Biden tend to be popular among middle aged and older Black voters, in particular, those over 50, his popularity among younger Black is considerably lower. In some polls, as low in in the teens. The same holds true as it relates to age. Biden performs solidly among voters over 50, however, with voters under age 50, his popularity according to a Rasmussen poll was at only six 6%!!! That is an anemic percentage!

Another problem with Biden is that he is seen by many people (especially those who live outside the beltway) as the consummate Washington insider. A politician of the establishment who lives, eats and breathes the rhetoric and values of the status quo. This is exactly the sort of candidate that the left wing segment of the democratic party does not want and will most certainly resist with unrelenting fury. Indeed, Biden’s stated public message is that if elected, things will revert to their previous state. Not exactly an inspiring message to hear if you are a progressive.

” considerable number of Americans are fed up with “business as usual.” They are not willing to settle for incremental or gradual change. “

Whatever the consequences of such a stance, the indisputable truth is that the base of the democratic party has moved to the left. It has also grown considerably younger, more racially diverse, upscale  and better educated. The current democratic party is much more progressive on social issues than their parents who were more inclined to be tolerant as opposed to fully accepting of issues like gay marriage, legal drug use and interracial marriage. Their parents, and most definitely grandparents, were more attuned to the Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner mindset.

These are the Americans who are primarily millennials and for the most part, disillusioned, if not outright angry at the current state of affairs:

  • ongoing racial unrest,
  • a decrease in economic mobility, i
  • indifference or outright hostility to climate change and other related environmental issues.
  • Lack of access to quality health are etc…

In short, they, like  considerable number of Americans are fed up with “business as usual.” They are not willing to settle for incremental or gradual change. THEY WANT RADICAL CHANGE! PERIOD! As of this moment, the two candidates who seems to be drilling this message with unapologetic candor are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Julian Castro who at this moment has not caughtany notable level of fire, has a pretty progressive platform as well.

age factor

Bernie Sanders — pic by Phil Roeder via Flickr.

It is true that we are very early in the process, but the truth is that:

 

    • Democratic party history of selecting younger candidates
    • The majority of the democratic party base demanding radical change 
    • Seething dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs in Washington (this is the case for voters in both parties and across the ideological spectrum) 
    • Supersize wealth gaps
    • The inability of many people to make a decent living 

 

and so on. Such factors are likely to favor a younger, lesser known candidate. This does not bode well for Warren or Sanders as well policy platforms notwithstanding. Time will tell, but if I had to be on a candidate for the democratic party nomination, at this point I would look at Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg as long shots or a younger Generation X’er or millennial who will come out of nowhere and has not announced his or her candidacy yet.

Feel free to give a side eye if you want, but as I stated earlier in the article, Democrats tend to go young. Republicans skew older. For all you skeptics and cynics, Donald Trump’s startling election to many, should dispel any levels of doubt that such an outcome could reoccur in November of 2020. Stayed tuned.


Featured image by: Mobilus In Mobili — Flickr.