Aging Democracy

United States Capitol BuildingPictures of this “new” Congress remind me that I haven’t talked to my Grandma in a while. She’s 86 and while you’d think this would be too old for politics, John Conyers, Louise Slaughter, Chuck Rangel, Sander Levin, and Sam Johnson wouldn’t agree.

Full disclosure: I’m part of Gen-X – the malcontents and cynics who follow directly after the steam roller that is the Baby Boom generation. This may give me a slightly flattened view of society.

Currently, there are 71 members of Congress over the age of 70. This is well above the norm. Most people are retired by aged 70, but not these politicians. This lucky generation is holding onto power with both fists. Born after WWI and not quite old enough for WWII, they’ve led a charmed life.

Forget the digital generation – this is the analog generation.

Their only real claim-to-fame is that they bred like rabbits creating the Baby Boom. So, they know what sex is, they just want to take the secret to their grave.

Voting for anyone over 70 to be my representative in Washington is like sending my Grandma to the mall and asking her to buy me a trendy pair of shoes. It’s not going to happen. She’d drive to the nearest Target and pick out something “sensible”. She can’t help it. She grew up in the wake of the Great Depression.

The last life-choice I made that my Grandma understood was in 1986.

aged congress
Congressional Home for the Elderly

But you can almost excuse this generation for not understanding today’s world. It’s the Boomer-hypocrisy that’s really the problem.

64% of Congressmen are Boomers. I know there are a lot of Boomers about, but they don’t make up 2/3 of the American population (only about 25%) so why are there so many in politics?

This generation was at the height of their youth during the 1960s. They enjoyed free love, drugs, equality and communal living and all that and then when they became parents, suddenly went all sanctimonious on us. Boomer parents may say “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” but they really mean “Don’t do anything that I’ve already done.”

They were in their formative years during the Civil Rights Movement and Sputnik-gate, so they have a been-there-done-that  attitude towards equality issues and never trust a Boomer to make educational decisions – they’re still trying to make up for coming in 2nd in the Space Race.

This is the generation that grew up expecting social security and medicare so they have a lackadaisical attitude towards debt – there will be a safety net for them at the end. Gen-Xers don’t plan on getting either by the time the Boomers have sucked out all the funds like parasites.

At some point, we’ve got to stop voting for our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents. If we want Congress to understand what’s right for a 21st century America, we need to start voting in people who belong to the modern world. We need a government that is young and flexible – neither of which are in evidence in Congress – people who understand innovation and team work – also not in evidence.

“Never trust anyone over thirty”  – oh, wait that was what the Boomers said. I guess they were right – never trust a Boomer.

I’m Jae and the message for today is: “If pro is the opposite of con, then congress must be the opposite of progress”.

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