Why does America have such old leaders?

Since 1950, the average age of heads of government in the three dozen member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has steadily declined, from above 60 years old to around 54 today. The average O.E.C.D. national leader is now two decades younger than Mr. Trump — and almost a quarter century younger than Mr. Biden…

And it isn’t just the American presidency that’s gone gray. The average age of Congress has trended upward for decades. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, is 80; Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is 78. The Supreme Court’s nine justices average above 67. Mr. Trump’s cabinet averages over 60, among the oldest in the O.E.C.D.

Here is one (not the only) explanation:

The way countries select their leaders offers a third possibility. In most O.E.C.D. countries, the head of government is a prime minister chosen by fellow lawmakers in the national legislature. Because party members pick their leaders, and can recall them at will, parliamentary systems give political parties significant control over whom to elevate, said Kaare Strom, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. And parties often have strategic reasons to pick younger leaders: to appeal to particular constituencies or to brand themselves behind more telegenic faces.

Presidential systems, by contrast, give parties less control over who from their ranks will run — and which candidate voters will prefer. “The process is more driven by who’s out there, who’s interested, and what kind of resources they have,” said Professor Strom. “There’s not the same kind of institutional control and vetting of those candidates that you have in the European parliamentary systems.”

Accumulated wealth and fundraising connections may matter more too in the American system, also favoring seniority.  Here is the full NYT story by Ian Prasad Philbrick.

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Because the young people have all been brainwashed?

Youngsters don't vote. Even 1% me doesn't vote since they tightened absentee balloting a few years ago; I prefer to fund candidates I like.

Bonus trivia: in NY, Jamaal Bowman, Progressive, defeated longtime chair Eliot Engel in the Democratic Party primary..uh-oh. If too many Progressives win over more traditional 'old-school Democrats (who often tend to be hypocritical Limousine Liberals, which is fine with me) , I *might* be tempted to vote for Trump and his ilk. Can't believe I typed that.

The problem with a lot of the old-school Democrats is that they got complacent from never having to compete for office and thus sucked at constituent service. I had an extremely important issue that I asked mine for help and never got a response—not even a “can’t help you.” So of course I’ve always voted for the opponent, be they Republican or progressive. I know a progressive who unseated a prominent local politician too and from what I heard the most effective lines of attack against that politician were that he was lazy and didn’t do anything, shown even more by how he did not campaign much while the progressive challenger worked very hard going door to door and connecting with constituents online. My area’s not filled with socialists, just people willing to give a hardworking young challenger a chance over an old guy who’s just keeping the seat warm. Overall, the trend toward progressive challengers is a good thing since it will help break the traditional monopoly on power that these old-school Democrats used to have and force them to become more responsive to their constituents.

"...the trend toward progressive challengers is a good thing since it will help break the traditional monopoly on power that these old-school Democrats used to have and force them to become more responsive to their constituents."

On reading that I had a flash of Michael Douglas giving his speech at the shareholders' meeting in "Wall Street."

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The old school Democrats entrenched McConnell, Trump, and other old guys in the GOP?

Seems to me, old guys running politics is a victory for 50+ years of right-wing indoctrination: politics is corrupt, only individuals can accomplish anything, never collective action.

So, anyone who wants to change the world avoids all government service.

That was a clear message from the intellectual right in the late 60s I heard being born in 1947, and it only got louder in the 70s, louder still in the 80s.

For the young on the right, they entered politics to destroy government, and for the most part quickly quit because you can't destroy government and not end up like the many ghost towns in Red States. If you succeed while young, where do you go in politics? Vote for me because I'm the successful mayor of that town down the road that's closed down?

You see the young insurgents get elected to Congress and prevent the GOP passing critical budgets forcing Boehner and McConnell to go to Pelosi for votes. Young Democrats in Congress get target by the right-wing money so they are soon gone.

I was taught civics in my Indiana public schools and what was clear to me was getting anything changed by government was a hard process of rallying collective action, in the book by rational argument, but in real life is was clear voters were irrational.

I couldn't put my finger on the problem until a Russian Jew coworker explained to me political reality by explaining Russia in the 90s. The followers of Putin were angry because the young earned and consumed more than they, the old party members did, so even though they earned and consumed twice as much as before the USSR collapsed, they saw themselves as worse off.

What drives conservatives nuts is the rise of those they consider inferior.

Non-whites getting equal pay is bad, but non-whites becoming boss is travesty. Ditto women. But the young have grown up more diverse since the 60s and boomers fought the law, and the law lost as far as conservatives are concerned.

But fighting for change is a game that requires a lifetime, so the effective combatant is old, very old: McConnell, Pelosi.

Conservatives needed the old GOP hands who knew how to obstruct.

The Democrats who knew how to gain inches, steadily, grew old, like Congressman John Lewis, 80, RIP.

What?

This is an insane screed.

I get it. You are not trying to be hysterical, it’s that you’re several years away from developing critical and long term thinking. Speaking for many, we all hope you get to go back to school in the fall with the rest of your 5th GradeClass.

The only indoctrination that has been going on is
(1) the indoctrination of young college students by the self-acclaimed elitists in academia and Follywood into Socialists & Marxists.
(2) the increasing leftist bias of the MSM spewing Leftist drivel nonstop 24/7.

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Sorry, the NYT and Tyler are brainwashing you. Tyler should stop relying on NYT nonsense articles to speculate about issues. For example, the article ignores Obama and it'd have been reasonable to expect a detailed comparison of how a very-young Obama won the competition in 2008 and how a very-old Biden could win it in 2020. Or how an old Trump won it against young Cruz and Rubio in 2016. More importantly, the article ignores competitions for many other elected positions in the U.S. Frankly the article is useless.

The article says the President of Chile is one of 3 presidents over 70. Yes, he was 70 in December 2019, just over 30 years after he started to compete in elections for high positions (the Senate first, and the Presidency in the last 20 years, being the winner in late 2009 and again in late 2017). Now it'd have been an interesting comparison between Piñera and for example Bill Clinton, now just 73.

> the NYT and Tyler are brainwashing you.

Yup. Came here to say this.

Tyler is apparently unable to remember Barack Obama, who was very young and was recently President for eight long scandal-ridden years. Nor can he recall the endless Dem Primary which just ended -- it featured a great many young people, although of course the DNC Elite opted for Dementia Joe in the end.

If age bothers you, go with the young guy in November. MAGA 2020, baby!

Kanye it is !

Jo Jorgenson 2020! She's only 63!

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Politico ran the same article last fall.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/03/america-gerontocracy-problem-politics-old-politicians-trump-biden-sanders-227986

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The political oldsters have accumulated an enormous stockpile of return favors they are owed - the currency of politics in America. Though there are exceptions ...Obama and Trump.

+1. Nobody, not the NYT nor the comments here, seems to point out something so obvious. It's like if we mention corruption and backroom favors then we are being impolite. Read the Caro LBJ books and you'll see how an otherwise mediocre leader climbed his way to top only to be hamstrung by his own mediocrity. This is the story of most of our elected officials.

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Stupid arguments, over-interpreting a transitory phenomenon. For a while, Italy's prime ministers were old. So, too, were Japan's. Chirac was old. Macron's wife is old.
Bill Clinton, George W, and Obama were all young men.

Nothing about the way these countries choose their leaders has changed during this time, so that can't be an explanation for fluctuations in the leaders' ages. And really -- Boris Johnson is telegenic? Jeremy Corbyn? Angela Merkel? Helmut Kohl? Berlusconi?

Good points ! 4 years from now the 2 candidates may be closer in age to what Obama and Romney were.

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Berlusconi is not in power, I think that proves the writer's point not yours? Macron's wife is besides the point. And boris is very telegenic even if not "beautiful".

Boris is buffoonish but not in a pejorative way but an avuncular one. That works for some but isn't universally telegenic.

Hi Scott*

Boris is also very smart. It improves his appearance tremendously.

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And Boris had a problem with Google results showing his Brexit bus so he started to tell the media bizarre tales of how he likes to meticulously convert wine boxes into busses to bring that association up in the google results. I don't know of anyone with the first world problem of undesired Google results but thought I'd leave this here. Also if goes beyond busses; there are tentacles everywhere if you follow this theory:
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/boris-johnson-model-google-news

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Not joking, my theory is that older people are just cooler and have better social skills, due to having lived more of their lives without smartphones.

So Trump tweets from a Mac? No iPhone?

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I wonder to what extent older politicians in other countries are more willing/expected to 'step aside.' In countries where these decisions are made more by parties and governed by stricter norms, it seems like you're supposed to wait your turn and bide for the nod only when - neither before nor after - everyone in the smoke-filled room agrees you're a viable candidate. In the US, on the other hand, the competition is more out in public, and anyone can and does try to participate in the race, and American egoism maybe makes a 75 year old politician who cares mainly about personal grandeur less willing to step aside for an up-and-comer. Anyway, it's a story at least. I remember reading about how annoyed many American elites were when Averell Harriman took a position in the Kennedy administration when he was in his 70s. He was expected to retire and accept his role as an 'elder statesmen' rather than keep trying to play a young man's game. That norm seems gone now, and it's probably to the detriment of American politics, since younger, potentially more capable younger people get passed over because some 80 year old has been in line longer.

The retire at 65 norm was much stronger when I was young. I can vaguely recall it getting undermined by the anti-discrimination tsunami.

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Only about a half decade ago, all 5 top politicians in California (Pelosi, Feinstein, Brown, Boxer, and McCarthy (the Dem Party boss)) were all whites. Brown has been replaced by a white man (Newsom) and Boxer by an exotic.

Basically, the Democrats are the Coalition of the Fringes, but they don't yet have a lot of appealing nonwhite candidates, so they keep being represented by white relics like Biden and Pelosi.

Separate analysis of each party seems worth pursuing (if there is a stable difference in the US's system). E.g.:

The Republicans are old and white because their vote base is old and white, and particularly because it's *not* young and college educated. So who else would they choose? Talent pipeline isn't there.

On the other hand, the Dems have lots of these young activist-y types to choose from... But even the voters for their own party don't actually *like* them very much (or if they like them, don't *trust* them), and the party establishment certainly doesn't trust them.

The Republicans basically don't have the "talent" (Young-middle aged college educated folks with broad appeal) while the Democrats kind of have "talent", but its talent is, unfortunately, largely a bunch of bonkeroids who can't go five minutes without spouting thing about Open Borders and College For All and Prison Abolition and Democratic Socialism and One Billion Americans and White Privilege and other similar fringe-y bonkers things. So that only leaves old folks.

Ultimately problem that young (under 40) Americans either politically apathetic and not hugely educated, or if educated and politically engaged, full of crazy ideas and hostily to established parties. So both either don't show up or get vetted out.

There was a third-party run from the presidency from outside the machine by an outlier like Andrew Yang - both reasonably young and reasonably sane, an American political unicorn - but got vetted out by combination of older insiders (who trusted Biden) and young loons (who trusted Sanders, as their proxy who'd managed to finagle some prominance over the years without being vetted out). Not clear how to solve this.

The Democrats’ problem is a transitory problem caused by the big hole in their talent pipeline from getting wiped out in lower-level elections during the Obama years.

The DimmieCraps problem is they're all a bunch of wackos in a race to see who can be the most extreme Leftist.

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I can think of several prominent Republicans under 50 with a national profile, including Dan Crenshaw (thank Pete Davidson for that), Ben Sasse, Devin Nunes, Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz (he has always looked about 5 years older than he actually is and will only turn 50 this year), and Matt Gaetz.

Whether any of these Republicans or their Democratic colleagues have "broad appeal" is open to question. Presidential elections are the only national elections in the U.S. so it is difficult to measure broad appeal objectively for the vast majority of politicians.

I don't think there's literally none, it's more a question of how many there are proportionate to expectations.

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"broad appeal" ?

While political candidates are marketed like soft drinks, almost everyone knows what a Coke tastes like, very few have any familiarity with national legislative candidates on a personal basis and even less with presidential contenders, except via television coverage, which has come to determine reality in Yankee land. If hasn't been covered by television, it hasn't actually happened. This is a major, unrepairable failing of the massive "democratic" nation/state. Only a tiny portion of the voting public has any conception of the leadership qualities, if, in fact, that's what's required, needed to guide over 300 million diverse interests on a path of acceptable policies. An Aleut on Akutan Island has zero in common with a New Jersey plumbing inspector but they are both bound by the same national codes. That's ridiculous. The US needs to be broken up into much smaller independent entities, as it was originally imagined.

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It is amazing to me that anyone could wake up every morning and worry about what color everybody is, to make that their life.

And then to have it all destroyed by science.

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In general, a huge fraction of younger generations are nonwhite, but they don't make as good candidates for Democrats as whites do:

East Asians: Not very interested in politics
Mexicans: Not very interested in politics, not very competent
Blacks: Not very competent

That leaves smaller groups like South Asians and East Africans, but so far they aren't numerous.

This is a baseless set of generalizations. In 2001, about 12% of Congress was non-white. Today, the number is 33% while the percentage of the entire U.S. population that is not exclusively white and/or has Hispanic heritage is 40%.

The situation today is that Hispanics are significantly underrepresented but blacks and Asians are close to being represented according to their share of the population.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/08/for-the-fifth-time-in-a-row-the-new-congress-is-the-most-racially-and-ethnically-diverse-ever/

The biggest obstacles to newcomers getting into Congress are almost certainly access to fundraising networks and gerrymandering. In any given House election, there are often several dozen elections in which the incumbent runs unopposed.

There are a huge number of black Congresspersons due to racial gerrymandering under the 1982 Voting Rights Act. But that tends to be a terminal job because the kind of race man or woman who wins the Democratic primary in a House district gerrymandered to elect a black isn't going to appeal to nonblack voters at a state level. E.g., Barack Obama getting crushed by Bobby Rush in the 2000 House primary.

E.g., you can see Biden struggling to come up with a Woman of Color VP nominee. The bench is pretty thin.

There's a Cherokee available.

Good one!

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He's got about one serious choice: Lisa Jackson. Problem: she has no history in electoral politics and may not want the task. (Race hustlers won't like her because she's a chemical engineer who looks very Lenahornish).

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You are saying that Senator Obama did not have any appeal at a true state wide office, compared to a congressional district?

Care to argue about it? Or would you argue that due to his purer American heritage, Keys was even less competent than Obama as a politician?

"You are saying that Senator Obama did not have any appeal at a true state wide office, compared to a congressional district?"

No, I said the opposite. When Obama emerged from his year long depression after discovering in the 2000 primary that black people don't like him enough to elect him to Congress, it dawned on him that white people like him enough to elect him to the Senate. So he regerrymandered his State Senate district to include more Gold Coast white donors as geared up for the 2004 US Senate race.

Bobby Rush, in contrast, is still representing the same gerrymandered-to-elect-a-black district as he has since 1993.

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Your earlier claim was that non-whites are not good candidates because they are either incompetent or lack interest in politics. I provided data showing the lack of basis for that generalization and you respond with another claim that non-white (or at least) black politicians do not appeal to white voters at the state level.

That's a rather different claim and, even in the Senate, we see 3 black Senators (3% in the Senate compared to 13% of the population -- not a huge gap) and 3 Asian Senators (3% compared to about 5% of the general population -- an even smaller and probably statistically insignificant gap).

As for Barack Obama, I remember reading John Derbyshire claiming there is no way he would ever be President because voters prefer boring white guys. Awesome prediction. What ever happened to Obama anyway?

Obama is a classic example of a talented politician who appeals to whites who couldn't get elected to the US House of Representatives because of all the gerrymandering to cram a lot of blacks in some districts to ensure that blacks would get elected in large numbers to the House. Obama therefore had to leapfrog over the House straight from the state legislature to the US Senate.

Republicans have long supported the requirement in the 1982 Voting Rights Act that requires gerrymandered districts likely to elect black and Hispanic candidates to the US House because:

A) It concentrates black and Hispanic voters in districts sure to go Democratic, leaving Republicans with small average advantage in other districts.

B) It tends to elect to the House a large number of back and Hispanic politicians who are unappealing to whites and Asians, thus reducing the Democrats' chances to win statewide offices because the Democrats' bench of US Representatives is so heavily stocked with Maxine Waters-style racemen and racewomen of little appeal to white and Asian moderates.

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Whites: Not very competent.

Look at every white president in the last 50 years they all suck. Trump, Bush Jr, Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan, Carter, Nixon are not the kind of people I would elect to be dogcatcher. They each in very big ways lead America's decline over that time, most left the country in a bad spot after leaving office from wars to bailouts to corruption. The last competent white was Eisenhower but that was because he was a proven general who competently ran something before getting into office.

Obama is half-white. I guess you're saying he half-sucked?

His black half sucked too ..... majorly

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I think we get the leaders we want. They're not forced upon us, so we have to assume that Americans don't want that much change.
As far as Trump, he is ls old but he doesn't act that old. He often acts like a teenager, bombastic and trash talking so his age is not front and center unlike Biden.
The alternatives to BIden were not that appealing and some were fairly extreme, so a known quantity gets the nomination by default.

+1. After the 2016 election, multiple non-activist lifelong Democrats I knew said things along the lines of “at least Trump has a lot of energy.” That was one of Trump’s key selling points in 2016. He never felt old so no one thought of his age. This time though a lot of people are exhausted by how high-energy Trump was so he could actually benefit from acting older (he seems to have stopped saying Sleepy Joe—I’d guess that nickname backfired since lots of people are looking for sleepy this year).

Also, people increasingly vote against candidates rather than for them. Because of that, I think we’ll increasingly see politicians who win by default like Biden because not a lot of people hate them even if not a lot love them either. In some ways this could favor younger candidates with less of a record in the longer term.

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Sample sizes for Presidents are much too small to reach any conclusions about whether there is a structural bias in favor of people over age 60.

It is an interesting question in terms of House and Senate leadership, though. Young Democrats famously led a campaign to prevent Pelosi from assuming the House leadership but they were thwarted. The Democrats in particular do seem to have a council of elders who are not open to the idea of promoting young leaders.

Republicans are a little better on this score. Paul Ryan ran as Mitt Romney's running mate and then followed by becoming House Speaker when he was 45.

The GenX generation, now in their 40s and 50s, was heavily influenced by the Reagan Revolution. It was one of the few generations that was more conservative even as teens and young adults than their parents. That's why Republicans now have lots of leaders of this prime age: besides Ryan, Rubio, Cruz, Haley, McCarthy to name a few. Trump is an anomaly. Democrats have a "hole" in this age group, which is why they are still turning to Boomers like Biden, Sanders, Warren, Hilary Clinton, Pelosi, etc. as they await Millennials and Gen Z to age into prime age. (Of course, many in those generations will also become more conservative as they enter prime age just from working, marrying, having kids, etc. so Republicans will probably not have a similar generational "hole" in 10-20 yrs)

Millennials are already in prime-age and according to this they are only becoming slightly more conservative and at a much slower rate than previous generations: https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/6/14/progressives-control-the-future

On average I’d bet millennials with college degrees are actually becoming more liberal with age. There is a lot of frustration on economic issues plus realization at how mean-spirited conservatives are on social issues, adding up to delayed life milestones, lower rates of getting married and having kids, and getting married and having kids not leading to increased conservatism (plus many millennials marry immigrants or non-whites, thus leading to multinational or multiracial kids, which is an experience that makes people more socially liberal).

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What's unusual about Pelosi is that she became Speaker again after having lost it.

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Political parties in Europe are much bigger and stronger. They are like corporations. So they take in young people from college, teach them to be the same bland corporate executives everyone hates (but for some reason still voters for). They rise into senior management and get a chance at being PM.

Then they take early retirement and go for the big money - a cushy sinecure in the EU for instance. Much better to be on the gravy train in Brussels or with some international organization than fight in your own capital for power. Or they sit on a Russian gas pipeline company and rake in the really big bucks.

Americans look at their politicians more seriously as individuals - and they tend to go into politics as a form of retirement, not a career.

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Sum total name recognition matters with direct and lazy voters.

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I suspect Cardinals often voted in elderly Popes to increase their chance of landing the job themselves. Seemed to happen in the politburo too.

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In the 115th Congress, the average age of Members of the House is 57.8 years and the average age of Senators is 61.8 years. That doesn't strike me as old, but maybe my perspective is different. It's true that leadership positions are held by Members and Senators older than the average, but that's because leadership is determined mainly but not exclusively by seniority. Obama was only 47 when he became president, even Reagan, considered old, was only 69 (weeks shy of 70). The youngest was Theodore Roosevelt (42). Kennedy was 43. Without doing the math, the average age of presidents upon attaining office appears to be in the mid to late 50s. Here are a few more presidents and their ages: Washington (57); Jefferson (57); Jackson (61); Lincoln (52); Grant (46); Taft (51); Wilson (56); Coolidge (51); FDR (51); Ike (62); LBJ (55); Carter (52); Clinton (46); GWB (54); Trump (70). Trump is the oldest. Biden would be 78 if elected. What's striking to me is how young our presidents have been. Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower led the U.S. in three rather important and lengthy military campaigns before they were 57, 46, and 62 and still had the energy to serve two terms as president. I'm still not sure what I want to do when I grow up.
https://en.wikipedia.org wiki/List_of_presidents_of_the_United_States_by_age

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I might be wrong, but I believe I’ve read somewhere that the same trend is present among American college presidents, particularly at top schools, as well as CEOs (outside of tech). I believe it was on slatestarcodex, but obviously that’s hard to check now.

http://www.archive.org - it's all there.

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In politics it takes a long time to get famous enough to win nationwide election. A person like AOC can do it by being very radical (and attractive) but being radical hurts down the line.
BTW Elizabeth Warren got famous due to her native American claim.

That, too, but it matters chiefly for the Presidency. As the cliche goes, all politics is local and that is true for all elections except Presidential ones. How many Americans could name the heads of the House Judiciary Committee (Jerrold Nadler) or the House Foreign Affairs Committee (Eliot Engel)? These are important, senior positions in government and are staffed by people who are largely unknown outside of Beltway insiders and political junkies. You don't need to be famous to become important in politics, you just have to rise up the ranks just as one would in any other profession.

As for the special case of Presidential candidates, I heard somewhere that the typical President has about 14 years of experience in elected office and has a track record of winning more and more difficult elections, with the latest usually being a race for Senator or Governor. If you win your first election at age 40, that means your first serious shot at becoming President may be when you are in your mid-50s.

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Every word posted by Floccina is wrong. Including "attractive."

AOC became famous, instantly, because the NYT/DNC decided to make them famous. They are both became ready for a nationwide election as soon as this happened -- it certainly did not take a "long time," nor did it depend on them voicing anything at all on their own.

Now, they would both lose a nationwide election, because they are both deeply-unlikeable morons with voices from Eighth Circle of Hell. But they are certainly famous enough to go out and lose, and it happened overnight, thanks to the Dem Media alone.

Spot on ........ MSM can make someone a "star" overnight. For the Left, thankfully, most of them are "shooting stars" due to their insane policies.

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Worth noting in the present case that fundraisers strongly preferred younger candidates for President on the Republican side, and it was voters who wanted the old guy. Just one data point, but the President is a limited sample size.

On the Congressional side, the seniority system is strong. Occasionally after wave elections it gets upset (the Watergate babies overthrowing Southern chairmen, the 1994 Republicans and committee chair term limits, since weakened by musical chairs.)

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& what about university presidents...

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Has anyone noticed that the US Congress works by seniority? Combined that with the fact that Representatives and Senators who stand for re-election are overwhelmingly likely to return to their seats, and you end up with octogenarian Congressional leadership.

It looked like this in 2012.

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Kevin McCarthy: age 55; Paul Ryan: age 48 at the midpoint of his time in charge of the House Republican caucus; John Boehner: age 62 at the midpoint of his time in charge of the House Republican caucus; Dennis Hastert, age 61; Newt Gingrich, age 53 at the midpoint; Robert Michel, age 65 at the midpoint; John Rhodes, age 60 at the midpoint; Gerald Ford, age 56 at the midpoint; Charles Halleck, 61 at the midpoint; Joseph Martin, 64 at the midpoint. Only Michel and Martin held the position past the age of 65; Michel was 71 when he left the position; Martin was 74.

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Old boomers vote for other old boomers. That's how Trump, Biden, Clinton (both of them), and Sanders can stay on stage well past their expiration dates. The other generations need to step out of the shadow. Don't be scared of these old timers.

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As recently as a few years ago--and to some extent still in some European countries--the top men--and it WAS mostly men--were career politicians who had been in and out of government for decades.

In Belgium, the recurring nature of senior political figures was so pervasive that the media began calling governments by the name of the PM and a roman numeral--just as if they were kings--to denote that, e.g., Eyskens III was the third government led by Gaston Eyskens as PM.

In France, figures like De Gaulle, Mitterand, Le Pen are in and around the national government for decades.

In Germany you had Willy Brandt, Helmut Kohl, and that guy who used to be the PM of Bavaria and leader of the CSU, whose name I'm too lazy to look up.

The issue is not age. It is political longevity. Trump, Biden, both Clintons, the Bushes...all are of comparable age but Trump is a newcomer to the political scene and the others have all been in politics for decades.

People live much longer lives now and that is reflected in their persistence in their careers.

Stoiber...

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Tyler should recognized this phenomenon from working at an university. Most universities are run by old people because those elders have just hung around long enough to be in charge. It is also why universities are less likely to be early adopters versus what the education level of the management would indicate.

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Seems to me a lot more politicians are getting destroyed along the path to the top. Either by their own party or the other party.

It's all scrorched earth, relentless character assassination, and 24/7 gotcha traps. (Not a new thing, just more of it)

Trump left behind, what, nearly a dozen corpses of up-and-comers during the primary? I mean, he didn't just leave them licking their wounds and waiting eight years while heading a Congressional committee in the meantime, he destroyed their career momentum and shattered their brands. Bush, Cruz, Rubio... remember them? They're selling used cars in Muscatine Iowa now.

The Dem's recent primary probably ruined most of those hopefuls from trying again too. The Dems right now are grooming their next generation of Presidential aspirants by, um, hello Joe, are you in there?

Hell, politicians are getting torpedoed in Senate races before they even start to position themselves for a Presidential run.

The primaries on the right are brutal affairs that amount to seeing who can be the craziest conspiracy gun nut who wants to burn it all down versus the one who wants to burn it down then plow it under. I mean, Newt Freaking Gingrich is an elder statesman now.

The primaries on the left, meanwhile, wait... do the Dems even have primaries? Seems like that party system has pretty much collapsed already. Anyone trying to be an up and coming Democrat in the House gets ruthlessly kneecapped by Pelosi.

Watching this unfold of course drives away most sane, intelligent, and non-sociopathic people from even wanting to try.

https://www.usnews.com/news/elections/articles/2020-06-24/progressives-flex-muscle-in-new-york-virginia-kentucky-primaries

https://www.usnews.com/news/elections/articles/2020-07-17/progressive-jamaal-bowman-defeats-longtime-rep-eliot-engel-in-new-york-primary

Well, we'll see. The last Congress had a round of fresh blood and new faces riding a wave of progressive populist energy, and Pelosi put a horse's head in their beds and hung them out to dry.

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The economic cost of government blunders is not over looked by voters. Their vote is mostly defensive, avoiding the next government blunder.

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https://www.nytimes.com/1976/03/07/archives/soviet-gerontocracy.html

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I looked into this a bit a few years ago from a financial planning perspective. I think the conclusions are applicable to political leadership as well - ideally the people move into senior leadership at about 55, old enough to have adequate life experience, young enough to actively serve for 6-10 years.

In the upcoming Presidential election, VP choices are important. It's fairly clear Biden is already failing cognatively, and very unlikely to serve out a term. Trump's appears to be in good health, but he's nearly as old as Biden.

There really should be an age limit, say 70, for Federal judges, including the Supreme Court.

Data below:

Per 2016 Harvard Business Review, more than a third of S&P 500 firms have a mandatory retirement policy for their CEO, late 60's seems typical. There is an exception to age discrimination for senior executives.

About 40% of S&P 500 companies disclose a mandatory retirement age for board members, with 72 being the most common age. (The link is dead).

About 30 states have mandatory retirement ages for judges, with 70 being the most common age.

The rate of new dementia diagnosis is about 1% per year at age 70, about 2.5% per year at age 80. (Fisher 2017 is the best data I've seen.)

https://hbr.org/2016/02/should-older-ceos-be-forced-to-retire
https://ballotpedia.org/Mandatory_retirement

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the washington socialists

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Perhaps American Baby Boomer culture is responsible? The baby boomers came into power young (early 1990s) and still don't want to relinquish control.

Maybe that is because Gen X&Yers still act like entitled petulant children

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Because success in politics (generally) in some countries depends on contacts and relationships, which typically take a long time to accumulate. Exceptions that test the rule (e.g., when the candidate, wannabe) grows up in a political family.

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Until very recently we didn't have "old leaders". Obama was not an ancient after all. 2016 is the watershed year for some reason. and yes, Hillary Clinton did the "in suo anno" thing that year-- but that did not force the GOP to nominate a septuagenarian as well.

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