Katy Burns: The wrinklies are coming!
In this photo taken July 9, 2013, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens as she is introduced to speak at a women's leadership symposium at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Clintons effort to carefully craft her post-Cabinet image has hit a few bumps with the latest sexting scandal revelations in the New York City mayoral campaign of Anthony Weiner, the husband of close Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and the SEC investigation roiling the Virginia governors race of Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, with both recalling politically problematic chapters of her past. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
No time to waste! Only 1,023 days until Election Day, 2016! At least so we’re told by the election clock on mycountdown.org, yet another wondrous site cluttering cyberspace. Who even knew such a site existed?
Cyberspace is truly amazing, sort of a universal junkshop, bursting with stuff that, strictly speaking, we don’t really, truly need – but we sure want. Much of this stuff seems to have been collected by folks who become obsessed with one subject or another and want to share their obsessions with the rest of the world. Once I found a site dedicated to state license plate minutiae. Another time, one celebrating really huge outdoor chair sculptures. Here’s to the internet!
Um, where was I? Oh, yes, the 2016 presidential election, which will be here before we know it, and so we have to anoint candidates now. You know, just barely three years or so before the actual election.
So our nation’s political pundits have shifted into overdrive, and we might as well join them and take a look at the Democratic field.
Chief among the anointed Democratic candidates is – drum roll here – Hillary Rodham Clinton! Just trailing her is Joe Biden! And the other day my friend Steve told me that the political chattering classes are touting the possible candidacy – again – of John Kerry!
Do you have any idea what this means? The Democratic Party – the folks who are said to be real catnip to the youth of this nation, at least as opposed to Republicans, seen as stuck in the figurative 1950s, still clinging to their “I Like Ike” buttons – may be fielding three top candidates who will, by Nov. 8, 2016, have a combined total of 214 years of life experience.
Yes! The faces of the future of the Democratic Party may be two baby boomers, one born in late 1945, another in 1947, and one other guy, Biden, who was born in 1942, technically too early to let him qualify as a boomer.
To put it another way, when these folks entered this world television was, at best, in its infancy. Telephones – black only, tethered to the wall with wires, and capable of only one thing, making phone calls – were rented from The Phone Company. Singular. And the Big Three Detroit automakers were the colossi of the industrial world.
Let’s be honest . . .
Yes, as one who can proudly claim these folks as chronological contemporaries, I can say that these three are – let’s be honest here – old.
Way to woo the younger generations, Democrats!
We Americans have, at best, an uneasy relationship with aging. Even if we, ourselves, have aged. Look at the AARP’s The Magazine, once called Modern Maturity before someone decided that the second M word sounded too . . . old. Every month the magazine, stuffed with ads for annuities, medical alert gizmos and phones with big buttons and large numbers – is adorned with a photo of one over-50 celebrity or another that is touched up and air-brushed to a fare-thee well, nary a wrinkle or gray hair in sight. Downright creepy, really.
In other countries, elders can be revered. Look at Britain, where actors Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith proudly sport more wrinkles than pedigree Shar Pei dogs and still regularly get starring movie roles. Compare that with the United States, where too many aging actresses are nearly unrecognizable, so surgically altered they look as if they were assembled by Picasso. And yet they still are limited to walk-on parts as sad grannies.
Which may be why the Brits produce so many splendid movies and TV shows.
But I do digress.
Voting for geezers
The big question for me – and a sure sign that I have entirely too much time on my hands – is: Will today’s young people vote for geezers? Or will their youthful little heads be turned by some sweet youngish Republican who has at least heard of today’s popular musicians? Time for some scientific polling!
Which in my case means calling on two of my lovely nieces and put the question to them.
Charlotte is 25 and finishing law school. She is already assuming the gravitas that comes with her profession. She’s also political down to her nicely polished toenails, and in short order she sent me a most impressive analysis of the entire issue.
Her carefully considered conclusion: The Dems, even if antiques themselves, will still triumph because of the GOP’s 1950-ish stance on social issues.
Her younger sister, Maddie, happily admits that “I am not very knowledgeable about politics, nor do I want to be.” A 20-year-old undergraduate who describes herself “a budding feminist of sorts” and hopes for a career helping to bring health care to under-served women, she said she doesn’t relate much to politicians but “I still go out and vote, regardless,” both goaded and guided by “my strongly opinionated mother and sister.”
Besides, she adds, she expects all her elected officials to be older than she is. Her bottom line?
“Unless a politician has white hair and visible liver spots, I don’t really consider his or her age in my opinion of them.”
So there you have it, the voices of youth. And it looks like maybe it isn’t such a reach to think that even geriatric candidates have a chance of success in our wonderful United States.
Still, it’s worth noting that I haven’t yet attempted a similar scientific survey among my contemporaries, who are far more likely than 20-somethings to be all too familiar with the inevitable aches, pains and limitations that age can impose on us. Who look wistful when watching video of Barack Obama – a mere lad of 52 – bound down the stairs of Air Force One without once clutching the railing.
And who know full well that the only two successful presidential candidates the Dems have fielded since 1980 – Bill Clinton and Obama – were young men when elected.
(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)