Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. On the Ages of Politicians

 

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.

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  1. Stina Member

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito: Quick and easy ones such as “OK Boomer” don’t cover it.

    I think this is right, but not simplistically so.

    They are a large and influential demographic. The subsequent generations are too small or too young.

    It’s not some loyalty bit. I’m curious what Gen X politicians we have currently holding office. Millenials are only now old enough to run for president, and it doesn’t seem to be a “thing” until late 40s judging by that list, so they are largely irrelevant.

    I am curious why there aren’t any younger boomers running for office.

    • #1
    • March 19, 2020, at 8:34 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. Bob Thompson Member

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito:

    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.

     

    It is a curious phenomenon. It is clear that there has been an enormously increasing number of opportunities for productive and innovative individuals in our economy to engage in pursuits other than political. Then, suddenly, we got a non-politician as POTUS. Now we have observed the recent primaries with those experienced septuagenarians accompanied by a group from which I would not want to be forced to choose.

    • #2
    • March 19, 2020, at 8:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. JamesSalerno Coolidge

    I honestly had no idea Gorbachev was still alive!

    • #3
    • March 19, 2020, at 9:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito Contributor

    JamesSalerno (View Comment):

    I honestly had no idea Gorbachev was still alive!

    Yeah, me neither, but Wikipedia wouldn’t lie to me, would it?

    • #4
    • March 19, 2020, at 9:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. The Reticulator Member

    JamesSalerno (View Comment):

    I honestly had no idea Gorbachev was still alive!

    You hear from him only when he says something to make a point that the Putin media want to have made. Mostly, though, he and Khrushchev (who is still dead) are in bad odor in Russia. The treatment of Khrushchev on film and in documentaries has done a 180 degree turnaround since the early-mid 90s. I haven’t seen Gorbachev in any Russian documentaries yet, but I haven’t been keeping up, either. Maybe they’re waiting until he’s dead.

    • #5
    • March 19, 2020, at 9:31 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito (View Comment):

    JamesSalerno (View Comment):

    I honestly had no idea Gorbachev was still alive!

    Yeah, me neither, but Wikipedia wouldn’t lie to me, would it?

    No way, it’s all good.

     

    • #6
    • March 19, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Does it still count as gaslighting if you can see it happening?

    • #7
    • March 19, 2020, at 10:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. JamesSalerno Coolidge

    Didn’t the Spanish Flu also originate in Asia? I’m not 100% sure but I thought that was the scholarly consensus on that particular epidemic. I always thought that the reason why they called it the Spanish Flu was because Spain was neutral during World War I. The nations involved in the war already lost massive amounts of their population due to combat and din’t want to report that oh, by the way, there’s also a global plague that is decimating the population. Spain didn’t have the same stakes in the game. The Spanish media were largely the only ones reporting on it, hence the name.

    • #8
    • March 19, 2020, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    JamesSalerno (View Comment):

    Didn’t the Spanish Flu also originate in Asia? I’m not 100% sure but I thought that was the scholarly consensus on that particular epidemic. I always thought that the reason why they called it the Spanish Flu was because Spain was neutral during World War I. The nations involved in the war already lost massive amounts of their population due to combat and din’t want to report that oh, by the way, there’s also a global plague that is decimating the population. Spain didn’t have the same stakes in the game. The Spanish media were largely the only ones reporting on it, hence the name.

    Kansas, I think. But the rest of the paragraph is in accord with what I’ve heard before.

    • #9
    • March 19, 2020, at 11:11 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. JamesSalerno Coolidge

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE0-WWqhFls

    Watch this. If you’re bored and need something to do in these trying times, watch every episode on this channel.

    • #10
    • March 19, 2020, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito: After ol’ Joe kicked the bucket (Thanks @amyschley!)

    Wait . . . are you implying Amy took him out? Remind me not to get on her bad side . . .

    • #11
    • March 19, 2020, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    Stad (View Comment):
    Wait . . . are you implying Amy took him out? Remind me not to get on her bad side . . .

    https://ricochet.com/347247/archives/ricochet-silent-radio-tomorrow-never-knows-parts-1-and-2/

    It’s in part 4, but you may as well start at the beginning.

    • #12
    • March 19, 2020, at 12:33 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My thanks to Hank and Matt for publicizing one of Ricochet Silent Radio’s most fabled moments! 

    Coming Soon: RSR 13, Atomic Terror Over the African Coast. See it on a laptop near you!

    • #13
    • March 19, 2020, at 1:08 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. GlennAmurgis Coolidge

    JamesSalerno (View Comment):

    Didn’t the Spanish Flu also originate in Asia? I’m not 100% sure but I thought that was the scholarly consensus on that particular epidemic. I always thought that the reason why they called it the Spanish Flu was because Spain was neutral during World War I. The nations involved in the war already lost massive amounts of their population due to combat and din’t want to report that oh, by the way, there’s also a global plague that is decimating the population. Spain didn’t have the same stakes in the game. The Spanish media were largely the only ones reporting on it, hence the name.

    I just read the book on it – It started in an Army base in Kansas – the reason why it was called Spanish is because their government published numbers on their cases. Wilson used his propaganda machine to keep the data about the levels in the USA being released (UK and Germany did the same)

    • #14
    • March 19, 2020, at 3:30 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Its the boomers. One of the reasons I realized Trump had won in 2016 was because the Boomers were voting for someone in there own age group.

     

    I also believed that Biden would win the primary because he was the only one of the candidates from that age group as well.

     

    • #15
    • March 19, 2020, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):
    I just read the book on it – It started in an Army base in Kansas

    There is disagreement among historians and scientists regarding the origin.

    • #16
    • March 19, 2020, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Naming of diseases goes back centuries. The English called syphilis the “French Pox.” The French called it something else. It actually appeared in Italy after some of Columbuses sailors joined the French army in Italy.

    • #17
    • March 19, 2020, at 4:53 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Old Bathos Moderator

    Ramses the Great ruled until he kicked it at ninety. It all depends.

    • #18
    • March 19, 2020, at 5:27 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    The English called syphilis the “French Pox.” The French called it something else.

    I believe the French called it the “English Disease”, if you can trust something I read decades ago.

    • #19
    • March 20, 2020, at 8:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  20. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Stina (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito: Quick and easy ones such as “OK Boomer” don’t cover it.

    I think this is right, but not simplistically so.

    They are a large and influential demographic. The subsequent generations are too small or too young.

    It’s not some loyalty bit. I’m curious what Gen X politicians we have currently holding office. Millenials are only now old enough to run for president, and it doesn’t seem to be a “thing” until late 40s judging by that list, so they are largely irrelevant.

    I am curious why there aren’t any younger boomers running for office.

    People from that age group (born in the 1940s) are likely reflective of the various party bosses, donors and lobbyists. I doubt it is conscious so much as a sub-conscious affinity. They just feel innately comfortable with people like themselves. It could also be argued that they were in a position to most benefit from the post-WWII economic boom; old enough to be adults advancing their careers in the 1960s, but young enough to be the “young turks” shaking up things. Apparently they were able to do this more so than the rest of their silent-generation and baby-boomer cohorts. The socio-economic details would require a series of posts, or a book to discuss.

    • #20
    • March 20, 2020, at 8:42 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Hank Rhody, Badgeless Bandito: Quick and easy ones such as “OK Boomer” don’t cover it.

    I think this is right, but not simplistically so.

    They are a large and influential demographic. The subsequent generations are too small or too young.

    It’s not some loyalty bit. I’m curious what Gen X politicians we have currently holding office. Millenials are only now old enough to run for president, and it doesn’t seem to be a “thing” until late 40s judging by that list, so they are largely irrelevant.

    I am curious why there aren’t any younger boomers running for office.

    People from that age group (born in the 1940s) are likely reflective of the various party bosses, donors and lobbyists. I doubt it is conscious so much as a sub-conscious affinity. They just feel innately comfortable with people like themselves. It could also be argued that they were in a position to most benefit from the post-WWII economic boom; old enough to be adults advancing their careers in the 1960s, but young enough to be the “young turks” shaking up things. Apparently they were able to do this more so than the rest of their silent-generation and baby-boomer cohorts. The socio-economic details would require a series of posts, or a book to discuss.

    There is a moment in a lot of peoples’ lives when they first get seen by a doctor who is younger than they are and it comes as something of a shock since it is difficult to believe a ‘child’ can be capable of knowing enough to make determinations about your well-being.

    That goes triple for presidents.

    Edit: To put it another way, they don’t make tribal elders like they used to.

    • #21
    • March 20, 2020, at 11:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.