I have complained enough about the choke-hold that older people have on everything going on in the world. I have called them names, like tyrannosaurus elderex! Of course, I have screamed at the senior citizens in my profession to retire already. For whatever reasons, we do not engage in honest conversations on senior citizens who don't want to call it quits.
Remember the political campaigns here in the US just a year ago? How could you forget, right? Now think about the three of them who were yelling every single day: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and donald trump. Who was the spring chicken there?!
This country has slipped into a gerontocracy even as we were all watching.
The highest levels of American politics bear an uncomfortable resemblance to a gerontocracy. From the Senate to the presidency to — perhaps most strikingly — the Supreme Court, top positions are held more and more by people in their 70s or above.
What happened, right?
In the body as a whole, 23 senators are at least 70. Seven are 80 or older.
Keep in mind that there are only 100 senators. Which means, 23 percent is at least 70 years old. Whatever happened to graceful retirement and encouraging a new and younger set of people taking over?
We should address these matters without rancor or cruelty, but also without euphemism or undue reticence.
These matters are hard to talk about in American politics because they are hard to talk about in our own lives. I see my mortality etched on my father’s face, as my daughters see it in mine. Mortality and bodily fragility are two great constants of human life. How we handle those constraints provides a small but important test of American democracy.
And that is the crucial point: Whether it is in our personal lives, or in the context of our public officials, we do not engage in open and honest conversations regarding aging and mortality. As long as we do not address these issues, well, expect the drooling and fragile tyrannosaurus elderex to get more and more powerful.