In the middle of CR’s reaction to Palin being McCain’s pick for veep, he says the following:
Age is obviously a major factor here. Yes, Obama is also in his forties, only a few years older than Palin. How young is too young? Where do you draw the line? 40? 35? Why not 30? This is obviously fuzzy and subjective. But generically I simply don’t think someone 44 years old is ready to be president. This is not Tbilisi, where the age guidelines for political and military leadership were lifted from the script of Logan’s Run.
Think about the people you know in their mid-forties. Or remember what you were like at that age. Or if you are that age, look in the mirror. I know a lot of very smart, extremely accomplished people in various professions who are Palin’s age (and I’ll be there myself in a couple of years). Purely in terms of “life experience” — and under that rubric is a mix of confidence, maturity, perspective on human existence, and the steady internal gyroscope that’s often a product of age — none would be ready to sit in the Oval Office. It’s almost strange to contemplate it.
With all due respect, WTF? When did middle-age become the new 18?
Maybe I have a different perspective on it because I’m 26. No, scratch that maybe, you’re damn right I do.
Philosophically I could care less, because by now I’ve solidified into the capital-A realm, and now see politics as little more than entertainment. The furthest I engage is to inject a seed of my own view as if venom from a snakebite, with the same intended effect. However, as a human being I still find the age thing odd. Within the narrative of the political system we live under, the assumption that representation can be removed from a purely local level yet still be representation, this view of age effectively assumes a “democratic” version of a tribe of elders. People on average do learn a lot over the years, but it’s by no means absolute, isn’t that one reason why we stopped with the elders arrangement?
Of course, one could make an argument that it’s representation by visual means. Rates of voting in the U.S. skew much higher for people 50 and up, and the average age of a member of congress is between 57 (House) and 62 (Senate). By such a loose standard as looking like the people that vote, they nail it on age. No surprise there, chances are voting is the most activity you get these days if you look like this:
But that kind of representation argument just opens the whole can of worms that asks why more congressmen aren’t black, hispanic, women, or gay. That’s not my point, so I won’t go there.
The key issue, IMO, is this: after awhile, people generally settle into their way of seeing the world. Is it realistic to assume that someone born in the 40’s knows how people currently in their 20s & 30s think — or particularly gives a shit? If you feel that they shouldn’t, why not?
To me, this is another example of why, beyond a purely local-decentralized form, representative democracy is a myth. Any system with the balls to argue that on average a middle-to-early-senior age white male that has seen 6 figures is a more suitable representative for me than my own brother (thanks to the age requirement, he’d have to wait until 2012 anyway), I can’t help but laugh at.