Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tyrannosaurus Elderex

It is not unusual for young people coming from traditional Asian and African countries to remark that here in the US we shunt away the old, unlike the importance of elders in their communities.  Pseudo-anthropologists rave about how in traditional societies the elders are asked to weigh in on important issues.

Are you nodding your head in agreement?  If so, well, by now you know that this blogger will have something to upset your stomach, right?

Let us follow up on the post from two days ago.  The presidential candidates are of Medicare-age.  Like I mentioned in that post, one-quarter of the US Senate is at least 70 years old.

That's two out of the three branches of government, right?   You want to start counting the number of old people in the Supreme Court?  The Notorious RBG is 83!  The decider--Kennedy--is 80.  Breyer is 78.  Thomas and Alito are 68 and 66.  Scalia died at 79, else he will be still be there.

On the financial scene, the gazillionaire Warren Buffett is 85, and he continues to make investing decisions as if he has another sixty years left on this planet.

In higher education, too, we often suffer from the tyranny of the senior-citizen faculty.  If old soldiers never die but only fade away, old professors seem to haunt the hallways forever.

Tell me again how we as a society do not listen to our elders?

It is one hell of a tyranny of the old.  It feels like they have a choke-hold on the rest of us.  Here, the elders rule, unfortunately!

"Unfortunate" because I worry that as we tend to become more conservative with age, councils of elders will turn out to be uber-conservative.  Progressive social change requires a lot of people with idealism in their heart.
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
That is a quote you have heard/read before, right?
This maxim – variously attributed to Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and Victor Hugo, among others – neatly captures the common notion that to be on the left of the political spectrum is to be young and idealistic, while to be on the right is to be older and more pragmatic.
But then at the ballot box of democracy, the sheer numbers matter, and can't the idealistic young outvote the old?  "All throat and no vote":
Because Generation Y is the largest generation in American history, it’s a big deal if it remains one of the most liberal generations ever. But there’s a huge, inescapable problem with the viability of Millennial politics today: Young people just don’t vote. Between 1964 and 2012, youth voter turnout in presidential elections has fallen below 50 percent, and Baby Boomers now outvote their children's generation by a stunning 30 percentage points.
So ... unless the young take charge of their government, the rapidly aging societies will mean that the conservative elders will continue to make conservative decisions.  Brexit and Trump are, thus, no surprises.


Mike Hoth said...

We were taught that politicians all follow the same master, the almighty US dollar. When you look at who so many of my peers voted for in the primaries, it is no surprise that young people are fleeing the polls. Bernie Sanders lost his chance at being a "poor" (he's not poor) presidential candidate but we heard not long after that the decision was made by wealthy old people instead of voters.

Of course, I understand that my voice is only heard when I vote. That is some of that wisdom that's supposed to come with age, though.

Anne in Salem said...

I thought that if a man over 30 is not conservative, it is because he has no money. Haven't heard the brains one.

Sriram Khé said...

Interesting to see how you two--from the other side of the political spectrum from where I am--approached this post ;)

Ramesh said...

In a slightly different way of thinking about it, I would have thought it more natural that at a young age you would be towards the right of the economic spectrum - capitalist, wanting to make money, pride in efficiency and ruthlessness, getting ahead on your own strength, individualism, etc etc, As you grow older, and life knocks you around, it would be natural to be more tolerant, more concerned about matters other than success and wealth, feeling the need to leave a legacy and do good to others, etc etc. That way you would be to the right when you are young and then veer left when you are older.

At least that is what has happened to me ......

Sriram Khé said...

Your experience of becoming "liberal" over the years is a good thing ;) hehehe ...
In general terms, people talk about the "virtues" of the old days as they get older, and think that the changes are for the worse. This is where the conservative older person stereotype kicks in--the youth are the ones always agitating for changes and advocating for them.
The way you describe your youthful years of capitalism ... so different from my young days ...

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