Perks of office: does America’s ageing political class need more hearing aids and Zimmer frames?
Long in the tooth, past your prime, over the hill, doting, crepuscular. There’s tons of euphemisms to telegraph old age. Chuckle if you will. We’re all headed there.
With a half century of below replacement fertility and long life expectancy, America is rapidly aging. As the baby boomer cohort enters retirement, almost 20 percent of us are 65 or older. Elder care and geriatric medicine are booming. Social Security wobbles. Dr Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association:
The US population is indeed getting older and we are unprepared to handle their growing needs for health, habilitative and rehabilitative care in community settings.
Writer Lucy Schiller nails it in the Columbia Journalism Review:
In technical terms, who is “past their prime,” or “old,” has changed over the years. In 1900, gerontologists considered “old” to be forty-seven. Today, you are “youngest-old” at sixty-five, “middle-old” at seventy-five, and at eighty-five—joining the ranks of Feinstein and Senator Chuck Grassley—you are a member of the “oldest-old.”
So 90 is not the new 60?
Whatever, age discrimination is a socially acceptable prejudice, masked in myriad ways to obscure the plain truth that gray hair, a few wrinkles and lessons learned from having been around the block are not cherished in the job market. “Seasoned citizens” tend to be set in their ways, thus resistant to the molding and conformity demanded by woke corporate diktats.
All the same, the concept of retirement exists for good reason. Commercial pilots and other occupations have mandatory retirement ages. But there is one field in which advanced age is no barrier: politics. Aside from residency, the only qualification to serve in the US Senate is to be at least 30 years of age. For the US House it’s 25.
Just get elected. Stupidity, incompetence, ill health and senescence are no bar to serving. Misfeasance and malfeasance are not either, unless the optics give it away, which may or may not lead to charges.
The longer you hang about in Congress, the more seniority, which means political clout.
My first ever boss on Capitol Hill was Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Senator Thurmond was a true character in the best sense, a red-headed Southern gentleman with an eye for the ladies and unrivaled perspicacity about his fellow man. He was beloved at home, and served in the Senate until he was 100, when he did not seek reelection. During his last years in office it became obvious that he was not fully compos mentis. However, an able staff assured that the duties of his office were discharged. Not the best way to do business, but we’re talking about Capitol Hill.
Today the Senate’s symbol of senescence is California’s 90-year-old Diane Feinstein, who frequently appears disoriented. President Biden, 80, sometimes gives the impression that he is not all there. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972. Senator John Fetterman, stroke victim and relative spring chicken at 54, also raises doubts about his cognition. Senator Mitch McConnell, 81, has frozen in front of the cameras a couple of times, leading to speculation about fitness for office. Commenting on McConnell’s episode, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, craving attention like most politicians, said:
The Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country. I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 83 and running for reelection for her 19th term (that’s 38 years). House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer is 84. Seems fit as a fiddle. The median age of the US House is 58. For the Senate it is just north of 65.
There is an easy fix for this: Back in the 1990s many states placed term limits on their Congressional representatives. But legislating from the bench as usual, the almighty Supreme Court ruled that state congressional term limits were unconstitutional (U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)). The Court said that individual states did not have authority to impose term limits on members of Congress more than what the Constitution specifies. The Constitution specifies nothing about it. So once you’re elected, don’t buck the system, keep campaign money flowing, and odds are you’ve got a lucrative gig-for-life courtesy of the taxpayers.
Federal judges are lifetime appointments.
The Constitution grants federal judges an almost-unparalleled option to keep working “during good behavior,” which, in practice, has meant as long as they want. But since that language was written, average life expectancy has more than doubled, to almost 80, and the number of people who live beyond 100 is rapidly growing. (Of the 10 oldest practicing federal judges on record, all but one served in the last 15 years.)
A lot of stuff passes for “good behavior” these days.
Just the other day Judge Pauline Newman, 96, was suspended for one year. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a 70-plus page order, saying that her refusal to comply with a special committee’s order that she be examined by a neurologist and undergo neuropsychological tests “constitutes serious misconduct.”
A 2020 study revealed that the average age of a federal judge is 69.
Term limits would also fix that.
With no vested interest in the vaunted two-party system, aka the “uniparty,” the Libertarian Party has proposed a novel solution. It has filed for conservatorships for both President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (A conservatorship is a court order for another to oversee the affairs of a minor or incapacitated person).
One of the most insulting and infuriating things in American politics is the financial tyranny inflicted upon us by the geriatric elites. These people have squatted in public office for decades, amassing massive wealth from lobbyists, Super PACs, and tax dollars, while the average American feels the pain of inflation and watches their savings dwindle.
The Libertarian National Committee is doing the responsible thing: we are filing for conservatorship of Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell. These men are not well enough to make financial decisions with their own money or with taxpayer money, so we’ve compassionately decided to step in and make these decisions for them.
The Libertarians know this gambit doesn’t have a snowball’s chance. But doesn’t it make the point in spades? When the political class (legislators, judges, et al.) bullet proof themselves as an entrenched, self-interested elite, it’s not really “democracy” anymore.
But we already knew that. How much longer can this clown show go on?
Louis T. March has a background in government, business, and philanthropy. A former talk show host, author, and public speaker, he is a dedicated student of history and genealogy. Louis lives with his family in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Image credit: Bigstock
Do Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Diane Feinstein, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi need a conservatorship
to protect the United States against their failing mental capacity?
Tell us in the comments box below.
Get the Free Mercator Newsletter
Get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox.
Your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell you personal data.
Have your say!
Join Mercator and post your comments.