Two years from now we’ll be examining the results of the presidential election. Then the question would have been answered. We may end up with someone who is or is close to being a septuagenarian. That will be a tragedy. Here’s why.
In New York City the “top 5 percent of households earned $864,394, or 88 times as much as the poorest 20% ($9,800).” The only places in the developed world that have a bigger gap between the rich and poor than the United States are Hong Kong and Singapore. “The share of income for the top percentile of Americans was 23.5% in 2007, the highest since 1928. . . .”
Now consider this: “since the official end of the Great Recession in mid-2009, 95 percent of all income gains have flowed up to America’s top 1 percent, who also now accrue 20 percent of the nation’s total pretax income, doubling their 10 percent share from the 1970s”.
Or this: “Income from wages and salaries, the essence of middle- and working-class wealth, has shrunk from more than 50 percent of the GDP pie in 1970 to 42.6 percent in 2012 – the smallest piece ever measured.”
Those quotes are all from an article that begins with Bill Gross one of the richest people on the planet saying: “It can’t go on like this, either from the standpoint of the health of the capitalist system itself or the health of individuals and the family.”
The oldies now leading the parties are all part of the past 30 years which have brought us to edge of the precipice on which we now live where most of us are going under. The Democrats are led by Joe Biden (73), Nancy Pelosi (76) and Harry Reid (76). They will offer us another oldie in the elderly Hillary Clinton (69). I was going to call Hillary “old lady Clinton” but decided the proper adjective is “elderly.”
That’s not to say the Republicans are any younger. They will be led by Mitch
Miller McConnell (76) and a youthful John Boehner (66). I’m not sure what old piece of toast they will be offering but I see no one who may be a contender who will be older than Hillary unless Mitt Romney (69) or John McCain (80) wants another go.
Remember when Ronald Reagan was elected and we thought he was so, so old. He was the oldest person ever elected president, four years older than the oldest one prior to him Buchanon. Is that why we feel the country is going down the trash heap because we’re led by people who are so ancient I wondered? Not necessarily, I realized,Barack Obama was 47 when he was inaugurated and he must take his share of responsibility for our national angst and slide.
I expect the Reagan fans out there must look with fondness upon elderly Hillary taking office, especially since she will lean for advise on her elderly husband Bill (70). But what about the rest of us? Shouldn’t we take a look at our prior presidents to see whether there is a correlation between age and performance.
A survey of scholars has the following list of the best presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Jackson, Polk, Lincoln, Teddy R, Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan. I’ll go with their list. [I’d pick Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, (no I have not been influenced by Mount Rushmore, or have I?) his cousin Franklin (Not Benjamin), Truman, Kennedy (my Irish may be showing). Jackson was close, never liked Wilson, Polk forgot what he did, I was wishy-washy on Reagan, I liked him but had my reservations, as for Eisenhower, I thought he was good but not great.]
The scholars have also listed the worst presidents: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanon; (all blamed for not avoiding the inevitable War Between the States) and Andrew Johnson and Ulysses Grant (hurt because the war went on after the fighting stopped), Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
I’ve averaged out their ages. The average age for the best presidents is 54 years, but so is that the average age for the worst presidents. So age is not a telling point. But in the context of the present times, we need people who are not captured by the past 30 years or so whether Democrat or Republican for they have brought us to where we are today. We need youth, but youth with something else since Obama has shown us youth alone is not enough.
That will require further examination. But for a starter, let’s take a vow to bring new competent young blood into our leadership. Those there have failed us.