Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Golden Oldies

Newly re-elected U.S. Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, recently made some interesting comments about the two leading contenders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.  After noting the relative youth of the top Republican p[residential contenders for 2016 - dudes in their forties and early fifties -   he mockingly dismissed Clinton and Biden, both old enough to qualify for Medicare, as the "Golden Girls."    
McConnell, who, for the record, is 72, was on to something.  Has anyone else other than I noticed that the Democratic Party is increasingly relying on veteran politicians while Republicans have been much more successful in cultivating a newer, younger generation of leaders?  I've noticed how part of the reason rock and roll is losing its audience to hip-hop and R&B because hip-hop and R&B are fresher, and the Democrats have the same problem that rock and roll has been afflicted with.  Republican stars, like rappers, are brash, young, and charismatic, and they have a common in-your-face swagger, much like Kanye West.  Democrats are divided in two camps: aging veterans who can fill large halls but are not new or fresh, sort of like Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, and younger participants who hit all the right notes but lack any hints of greatness and distinction, sort of like Spoon or Vampire Weekend.  Some of them shine brightly and disappear quickly, just as Foster the People got a lot of attention for one of their songs in 2011, then released a new album out in 2014 without too many people noticing.  Or to put it another way . . .  Incoming U.S. Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa has BeyoncĂ©-like star appeal (Tom Harkin, the man she's replacing, likened Ernst to Taylor Swift, but let that pass), while defeated Democratic California State Senate candidate Sandra Fluke has the appeal of Laura Marling.  Laura who? Exactly.  Who are these younger Democrats, anyway? 
I'll tell you who they are.  They're competent candidates that have the correct positions on the issues and have the qualifications for office, but they're weak campaigners with inarticulate messages and an inability to connect with the public.  True, 45-year-old Cory Booker solidified his place as the biggest (only?) rising star in the Democratic Party by being elected to a full six-year-Senate term from New Jersey, but then, the Black Keys also distinguish themselves in an undistinguished field of twenty-first-century rockers.  Republicans, meanwhile, are all wrong on the issues but but have clear-cut messages designed to win fans and votes.  That's why most of all the big up-and-coming names in politics are Republicans - Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Cory Gardner.  The next generation of Democrats?  Let's review:  Michelle Nunn in Georgia?  Gone!  Alex Sink in Florida?  Outta here!  Anthony Brown in Maryland?  K.O.'ed!  Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky?  Yesterday's news!  Wendy Davis in Texas?  I'm sorry, who?  Mary Burke in Wisconsin?  Yeah, she just announced that she won't run for statewide office again.  That's because she's a Democrat who lost.  Even Mark Warner, the senior Democratic senator from Virginia who just got re-elected, nearly lost a race he should have won handily, and so his own presidential prospects just got a whole lot dimmer.  Ditto for Democratic presidential possibility Martin O'Malley, the outgoing governor of Maryland, who couldn't get Anthony Brown, his lieutenant governor and his anointed heir apparent, elected to succeed him.
To wit:  The Republicans are the party of rising stars and the Democrats are the party of shooting stars.  And the Democratic Party can't be expected to prosper without developing some new talent to replace the aging hacks.  Maybe Hillary Clinton can win in 2016, but she increasingly looks like a symptom of severe late-nineties nostalgia.  If I may skip from pop music metaphors to a television metaphor for a moment, the idea of the Democrats selecting her to oppose Scott Walker or Marco Rubio - both young enough to be her sons - for the Presidency increasingly sounds as senseless as NBC airing reruns of "The West Wing" opposite first-run episodes of ABC's "Scandal."
So there you have it.  The wave of the future versus a blast from the past.  It's sort of unsettling that the Democrats, whose policies are more beneficial to young people, can't seem to find any youthful figures to help lead them forward.  Hillary is highly unlikely to offer anything new, and other progressives with presidential ambitions - namely, Bernie Sanders - aren't exactly spring chickens either.  And if Democratic "rising stars" like Sandra Fluke couldn't find issues other than contraception to make people vote for her (what was her position on job-creating policies like California's high-speed rail program, anyway?), it's only fitting that their fifteen minutes of fame are over and that their coolness has, well, cooled.
Sort of like Foster the People.                       

No comments: