Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The current crop of Democratic challengers tend to be pretty old people. Somehow they’ve even managed to beat Donald Trump in that regard, even though he’s no spring chicken himself. There’s a reason for that, but we’re not starting there. We’re starting back in the old Soviet Union, and not even as a Bernie Sanders joke. Let’s go down a quick list, shall we, of the various Soviets post Lenin.
- Joseph Stalin: Born 1878, died 1953, 75 years old*. 28 years in office.
- Nikita Khrushchev: Born 1894, died 1971, 77 years old. 11 years in office.
- Leonid Brezhnev: Born 1906, died 1982, 76 years old. 18 years in office.
- Yuri Andropov: Born 1914, died 1984, 70 years old. 2 years in office.
- Konstantin Chernenko: Born 1911, died 1985, 74 years old. 1 year in office.
- Gorbachev: Born 1931, still alive according to Wikipedia.
After ol’ Joe kicked the bucket (Thanks @amyschley!) you get a series of four commies with similar birth years (17 years difference between Khrushchev and Andropov). They collectively ran the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1985, a period of 32 years. Lenin and Stalin were born in the 1870s, these guys were born about 30 years after that**, then Gorbachev and Yeltsin were born in the 1930s. These Soviet leaders were all selected from the same age cohort until they got so decrepit that they were dying off after a few months in office.
“How am I supposed to get anyplace with the Russians if they keep dying on me?”
— Ronald Reagan, on being informed of the death of Chernenko, 1985
(And thanks @Percival for looking that up for me).
Now let’s look at one more table, this is the age of presidential candidates for the past 30 years. Including also-rans, but not all the weirdos who show up in primaries.
- George Bush Senior: Born 1924, ran 1988, 1992, at age 64, and 68 respectively.
- Bill Clinton: Born 1946, ran in 1992 and 1996, at age 46 and 50 respectively.
- Ross Perot: Born 1930, ran in 1992 and 1996, at age 62 and 66 respectively.
- George W Bush: Born 1946, ran in 2000 and 2004, at age 54 and 58 respectively.
- Al Gore: Born 1948, ran in 2000, at age 52.
- John Kerry: Born in 1943, ran in 2004, at age 61
- Barack Obama: Born in 1961, ran in 2008 and 2012, at age 47 and 51 respectively.
- John McCain: Born in 1942, ran in 2008, at age 64.
- Mitt Romney: Born in 1947, ran in 2012, at age 65.
- Hillary Clinton: Born in 1947, ran in 2016, at age 69.
- Donald Trump: Born in 1946, ran in 2016 and 2020, at age 70 and 74 respectively.
- Joe Biden: Born in 1942, running in 2020, at age 78.
- Bernie Sanders: Born in 1941, running it 2020, at age 79.
This is a much clearer pattern. Bush Senior and Perot come from an older cohort. Barack Obama is an outlier. All ten of the other folks on that list were born between 1941 to 1948. The people ruling and almost-ruling*** this country for the past 28 years were born in a seven-year span.
If it seems like our politicians are getting older and older it’s because we’re selecting them from the same group of people. I offer no explanation as to why. Quick and easy ones such as “OK Boomer” don’t cover it. All I’m saying is that noticing the pattern helps you to understand how we’ve got senility out there stumping.
On the plus side, this is the sort of problem that goes away if you ignore it long enough.
*Calculations are done by subtracting years only. That may explain discrepancies in years. Or I might have screwed up the arithmetic.
**If you average their birth years you get 1906. Whether that number means anything I leave up to you.
***Fine. “Presiding and almost-presiding” if you must.Published in