“Democrats lack strong voice amid Trump’s Russia investigation meltdown“ read the headline of an article in the Boston Globe. When I read that I thought of Renee Fleming of Met Opera fame who I had just seen interviewed on PBS. She is 58-years-old.
She was asked by Jeffrey Brown what happens to the voice of an Opera star like her when she gets older. Fleming replied: “You don’t have the resilience, the physical resilience. So, if I sing a big performance, I don’t want to do it again the next day.” She said opera singers are power singers who have to be heard over all the chorus and orchestra without amplification. “When you’re young you can keep doing it and doing it and doing it.”
Yes, as Fleming points out, as one ages the powers one once had begin to diminish. I was also reminded of a 1957 selection by a U.S. Senate committee of the five greatest senators in U.S. history. They chose Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert La Follette, Robert A. Taft and Henry Clay. Those familiar with American history would agree that those men were the leading voices of their parties. Their careers in the Senate were long. The longest living of them was Clay who died at age 75. The others: Webster aged 70; Calhoun aged 68; Taft aged 63; and La Follette aged 70. Except for Clay who was instrumental in bringing about the Compromise of 1850 the others were at their prime in their forties through early sixties.
Age diminishes. The great leaders of the past in America were leading their parties before the grasp of age started to pull away the strength they had. Death snatched them away before they became too old. How fortunate they did not linger after their usefulness faded.
There is another aspect of age. The country does not belong to the elderly. How many more years will they be around? Why do they want to intrude on how others will live after them? Decisions made by people in their thirties to fifties will affect their lives after twenty, thirty, forty or more years; decisions made by people over seventy will have no bearing on them in twenty years. Isn’t it appropriate that those making decisions about the future of the country have a stake in that future?
That brings me back to the question that got me thinking. It is no wonder the Democrats have no strong voice. It has been taken over by old people who cling to power afraid of becoming irrelevant. They have such a strong grip on the power of the party that they muffle the voices of others.
For the Democratic Party to get its voice back it has to get rid of the old timers. They won’t leave on their own. Many no whither to go. Others are unable to grasp their time on the stage is over. Cosmetic surgery may help with the outside but the inside continues its relentless wearing away. A smooth brow does not mean a smooth brain.
Bill Clinton who is the power behind the Democratic Party was elected at age 46. In August he will be 71; his spouse Hillary will be 70 later this year; and Bernie Sanders 76. There is little future with them. Yet they won’t step aside. Why?
It doesn’t get better in Congress. Nancy Pelosi is 77; Dianne Feinstein 83; Jim Clyburn 76; Steny Hoyer 77; and John Lewis 77. Chuck Shumer at 66 is a baby among them. Is the American Democratic Party bereft of youth? Is it because of the petrified minds they are unable to understand that is why it only appeals to less and less people.
History teaches most of the past strong leaders were dead by the age of the Democratic leaders. None of them can possibly be leaders with strong voices for the party or they would have been. The Democrats need people who will appeal to the young voters.
The average age of past American presidents is 55 years. Our present president is the oldest person ever to take on the job being 28 years oldest than the youngest man who did. He’ll be dead before those born today can vote yet he wants to affect their future.
The Democratic leadership vacuum is because the elderly like the Clintons cling to power. Until new younger leaders rise to the fore it will walk in the shadow of the Republicans.