Old People Rule (Literally)

Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship yesterday. At age 50, he’s now the oldest person to ever win one of golf’s major tournaments.

That got me to thinking about how powerful old people are these days. So, I looked up some numbers. Here are the ages of the most powerful people in our country. Joe Biden is 78. Nancy Pelosi is 81. Stenny Hoyer is 82. Mitch McConnell is 79. Chuck Schumer is a youthful 70.

Retired Wisconsin State Sen. Fred Risser turned 94 a couple of weeks ago. When he stepped down in January at 93 he was the longest serving legislator in American history. Had he run again he might well have won another four-year term.

Phil Mickelson is now the oldest player to win a major tournament.

On the one hand, there is reason for people of all ages to feel good about this. Since we all aspire to a long life, it’s encouraging to see people being, not just productive, but powerful into their eighth and even ninth decade. If you’re a twenty or thirty-something who is grumbling about all this, well, wait 50 years and see how you feel then.

On the other hand, you could make the argument that a person born in 1940, while they’ve seen a lot, has had their views formed in a period that is very different from today.

My own view is that, if a person is still sharp and healthy, there’s no reason to be ageist about it. I think Biden and Pelosi are each doing a great job and I’d be fine with their continuing as long as they can. And my problem with Mitch McConnell isn’t that he’s pushing 80, but that he’s pushing Trump’s lies.

And, in truth, I am somewhat concerned about the generation of political leaders to come. At least among activists on the left, there is a disregard, even hostility, toward classical liberal values and a moral certainty about their causes that is off-putting, if not dangerous.

Still, a generational change in leadership is inevitable. I hope we don’t live to see the Biden-Pelosi era as a golden age when respect for liberal values was taken for granted.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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