Democrats led by an out of tune and complacent gerontocracy

In the last 15 years the Democratic Party has twice held control over the levers that drive political power in this country. Once when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and the Executive and Legislative branches of the government were led by a Democratic majority. The other we are living under since the 2020 election when Joe Biden took over the presidency. It seems to me that both opportunities will have been mostly wasted.  

Little has been achieved. We can actually say that on some issues steps have been taken backwards. There are those who will argue that that progress does not happen over night. I understand. But the kind of opportunity I refer to when I mention Obama and Biden does not come around often.

What is the problem? A divided country, an obstructionist Republican Party, Covid… So many excuses. Many of them valid, yet…

I just read a column written by Jamelle Bouie in the News York Times. Titled “The Gerontocracy of the Democratic Party Doesn’t Understand That We’re at the Brink,” it lays out some of my thoughts over the past 20-plus years. Democrats in leadership positions, I believe, have held on to power too long without giving much real thought to the generation that follows. It is as if once power is achieved the name of the game becomes one of maintaining it for one’s self at all odds, even at the expense of one’s values, and without a real plan for a progressive future.

Reading a quote from California Senator Dianne Feinstein, 88-years-old, where she concludes that “I’m very optimistic about the future of our country,” Bouie labels it “a damning example of the sanguine complacency that seems to mark much of the gerontocratic leadership of the Democratic Party.”

In the same column, Bouie later adds: “What’s missing from party leaders, an absence that is endlessly frustrating to younger liberals, is any sense of urgency and crisis — any sense that our system is on the brink. Despite mounting threats to the right to vote, the right to an abortion and the ability of the federal government to act proactively in the public interest, senior Democrats continue to act as if American politics is back to business as usual.”

He gives an example where earlier this year President Biden, 79, said that Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, was a “man of your word” and a “man of honor.” Biden then says, “Thank you for being my friend” to McConnell. 

Of McConnell, Bouie writes: [This is the] “man who is almost singularly responsible for the destruction of the Senate as a functional lawmaking body and whose chief accomplishment in public life is the creation of a far-right Supreme Court majority that is now poised to roll American jurisprudence back to the 19th century.”

Still, the president of the United States, a Democrat, thanks him.  

Another example of that gerontocracy Bouie rails against is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A great politician, no doubt. As Speaker she achieved more than any other man who has held that job since the 1960s, as far as I’m concerned. But Nancy, you’re ultra wealthy. Your legacy is assured. It’s time to enjoy grandchildren, or maybe travel the Napa Valley tasting their wonderful wine. It’s also time that you took a chance and, by now, should have groomed a younger person, who really represents the values of today’s Democratic Party (Not the lobbyists!), to clear the oppressive musty air surrounding our politics.

Pelosi does not disappoint when it comes to ‘out of touch.’ She is recently quoted as saying, “It might come as a surprise to some of you that the president I quote most often is President Reagan,” Pelosi said at the ribbon-cutting for the Washington branch of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “The good humor of our president was really a tonic for the nation, the gentleman that he was.”

Bouie then adds of Pelosi, “Last month, she told an audience in Miami that she wants a ‘strong Republican Party’ that can return to where it was when it ‘cared about a woman’s right to choose’ and ‘cared about the environment.’ Of course, the ideologically moderate Republican Party that Pelosi seems to want resurrected was largely dead by the time she entered national politics in the late 1970s, bludgeoned into submission with the notable help of Ronald Reagan, among other figures.”

A strong Republican Party? Maybe at 82 Pelosi has forgotten that the modern GOP is the party that to this day, a great majority of which, still believes the Big Lie — that Trump won the 2020 presidential election — and that way too many of them continue to endorse what Rep. Bennie Thompson, head of the January 6 committee investigating the events of last year’s insurrection at the Capitol, called the “culmination of an attempted coup.” 

But hey, Nancy still believes that with this type of language she can win over Republican Cubans in Miami, for example. Come on Nancy, close your eyes and imagine that wonderful Napa air that produces that wonderful silky wine, and give up the croqueta circuit in Miami. Your style of politics will not work in this city controlled by fanatics in a Republican Party that is slowly being taken over by Proud Boys. The Republican Party’s Miami-Dade chair, Rene García, when asked of their embrace of the Proud Boys, answered: “Yes, we have different points of view in our party. That’s how we are. And my job as Republican chairman is to protect everyone’s First Amendment right, however wrong they may be.”

Note to García: The leadership of the Proud Boys, several from Miami, have been indicted for seditious conspiracy and other offenses related to the U.S. Capitol breach. And Rene, I know you’re not the brightest lightbulb, so, just in case, by sedition they mean the overthrow of the government. 

Columnist Bouie says it best when he writes that “Millions of Democratic voters can see and feel that American politics has changed in profound ways since at least the 1990s, and they want their leaders to act, and react, accordingly.

“Standing in the way of this demand, unfortunately, is the stubborn — and ultimately ruinous — optimism of some of the most powerful people in the Democratic Party.”

I would add that standing in the way is also the undue influence money and its ambassadors on Capitol Hill now have over the country’s political system. And it’s not limited solely to the Republicans, Democrats are also guilty of that dollar-driven gluttony.