Why Is American Politics So Old?

Angela Channing

World Cup of Soaps Moderator
Donald Trump is 74 which is pretty old for an elected world leader and is 9 years older that the leader of Germany (Angela Merkel) and Japan (Shinzo Abe) who are the next oldest in the G7. However, he is a relative spring chicken when compared with other leader US politicians:

Joe Biden - Democratic Party presumptive presidential candidate - 77 years old
Bernie Sanders - Democratic Party presidential candidate runner up - 78 years
Nancy Pelosi - Speaker of the House of Representatives - 80 years old
Mitch McConnell - Senate Majority Leader - 78 years old
Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. - Secretary of Commerce -82 years old

When compared with other countries, why does America elect and appoint so many old people to such senior positions?

Frank Underwood

Telly Talk Star
A lot of politicians are able to turn politics into a career, despite becoming corrupted along the way. But then that corruption also helps fuel their reelection campaigns.

Bernie Sanders is one of the few politicians who seems to have stuck with politics for the right reasons.

Age is also associated with wisdom and experience, even though Trump and Biden are both a couple of dolts. Biden especially seems like he belongs in a long term care facility.
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Michael Torrance

Telly Talk Mega Star
When compared with other countries, why does America elect and appoint so many old people to such senior positions?
Because they refuse to stop being the establishment (Biden, Pelosi, McConnell) even when they claim to be anti-establishment (Sanders). But actions speak louder than words.
I thought it was ridiculous both in 2016 (Trump on the other, Hillary or Sanders on the others--all three over 70) and it is even more ridiculous now when Trump, Biden (and Sanders while he was in the running) are older.

Some of it has to do with the way primaries work in the US: this time around for the Democratic party, there were over 20. But the names people knew were Sanders and Biden (and late in the game, Bloomberg). If it had only been 2-3 more candidates alongside the dinosaurs, it could have been easier for them to gain some traction. This is not unlike how Trump won in 2016, when every other candidate was too short-sighted to understand that a divided field meant his TV and brand name recognition, together with simplistic inflammatory rhetoric, would work to make him the last man standing.

But also, the US society is deeply conservative in the original meaning: wanting to conserve things as they are. It gives off a different impression because of some Supreme court decisions (about civil rights or abortion or gay rights), but generally speaking it is quite sclerotic and anti-change. If left up to legislation and the "voice of the people," we would still live in a segregated country where women would not have the right to an abortion or equal rights and sodomy laws would make homosexuality illegal.
Even when some policies clearly do not work (not having a national curriculum for schools for instance, and letting local boards put stickers on biology books stating "evolution is just a theory"), people fear that changing things may not be in the direction they want, so in the end they all prefer a compromise they dislike to a possible change they might hate. Everything is based on the "better the devil you know" principle, and in politics that translates in the same people getting elected again and again.

Frank Underwood

Telly Talk Star
I honestly don't give a damn how old any politician is. The whole point of being anti-establishment is the opposition to the policies they represent. It has nothing to do with how old they are. If the establishment was comprised entirely of younger politicians like Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, I would still oppose it because it would continue to serve the interests of corporate America and the military industrial complex. Also, younger voters tend to be far less conservative than older voters. Unfortunately, they're not a very reliable voting block.

Bernie Sanders is outside of the establishment in terms of his policies, but he also enables them by trying to sheep-herd his supporters into the Democratic Party. Had Trump lost (or been cheated out of) the Republican nomination, I doubt he would have called his supporters irresponsible if they didn't vow to support Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz. Trump was able to ride the populist wave into the White House, and then predictably deferred to the neocons. Of course, the DNC's infamous "pied piper" strategy also helped Trump. Be careful what you wish for!

There have been some young progressive victories in down-ballot races, which is nice. However, policies should always matter more than how old or young a politician is. The only time age should be a factor is if their mental or physical health has deteriorated, and that can happen at any age. Biden's mental health is clearly in decline, and Trump's not far behind. Even if you put that aside, neither of them is fit for this moment. We're in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, and both presidential candidates have fanned the flames in their own way.

That said, there is a "devil you know" element at play as well. Some people are so convinced that it's the only way to the point that they try to shame voters who choose a different path.
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