Old age is given some good marks in society. These include wisdom and experience. However, there are some ways in which society gives old age bad marks, including a loss of touch with the issues impacting younger generations and the health problems of the body and mind that accompany age. Today we have the oldest president in American history and at the end of the 113th Congress (2013-15), the Democratic leadership hit a landmark average age of 70. Over the last two Congresses the Democrats have averaged over 75 among their leaders, with only Kamala Harris being under 70. All three of the House leaders on the Democratic side are over 80…Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 83, and Majority Whip James Clyburn is 82. This is a development raises questions such as who is waiting in the wings? It isn’t Hoyer and Clyburn. Katherine Harris of Massachusetts as Assistant Speaker and Hakeem Jeffries of New York as Democratic Conference Chairman are young enough, but they haven’t been getting a whole lot of attention, so their ascendency will not be an anticipated thing. Worse yet, in 2017 a former pharmacist for a D.C. pharmacy reported that he was filling prescriptions for elderly politicians for serious ailments, possibly those impacting the mind (Singman).
I have gone back one hundred years and found that the current Democratic leadership of the last Congress and the last is the oldest Congressional leadership from a party we’ve had in that time and in truth, ever in American history (Harwood). The Republicans are on a rather high end at 64 by the end of the year, with the oldest average being 65 over the last 100 years. It would be even higher if the former President Trump was counted. He is currently 76 and if he chooses to run for president, its’ going to be an ironic campaign if the GOP tries to pull the age card on Biden again. I think both are too old to give the presidency a run for 2024 and for the record, if both are the nominees in 2024 it will stand as a major indictment of our primary system. I could go on about the troubles of the existing primary system, but that will have to wait for another time. The average for this Congress will be 72 by the end of the year. Below I have a chart of the average age of politicians at the end of every Congress since the 67th (1921-1923). This counts presidents, vice presidents, speakers, and majority and minority leaders and whips.
This chart demonstrates that starting with the first Congressional session during Obama’s presidency, the age of the Democratic leadership has only climbed up. The current leadership among them is old and uninspiring to many voters, certainly some Democrats included. This problem is not just one I’ve observed, just search “aging Democratic leadership” and you will get a bevy of articles discussing it.
Harwood, J. (2021, September 26). Democrats’ aging leaders need all their skills for the task ahead. CNN.
Singman, B. (2017, October 12). Uproar as Capitol Hill pharmacist dishes on Alzheimer’s prescriptions for the powerful. Fox News.