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Citations Needed

Sep 21, 2022

"Why Are We Still Governed by Baby Boomers and the Remarkably Old?," inquires The New York Times. "Why Do Such Elderly People Run America?," The Atlantic wonders. "Gerontocracy Is Hurting Democracy," insists New York Magazine’s Intelligencer. "Too old to run again? Biden faces questions about his age as crises mount," The Guardian reports.
Though these headlines are framed as exploratory questions, news media seem to have their minds made up: the problem with Washington is that it’s chock full of geezers. In recent years, we’ve often heard that U.S. policymaking, helmed at the federal level by seventy- and eighty-somethings like Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi, and at the state level by the similarly aged Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley and Pat Leahy, is simply growing too old and out of touch with the electorate.
There’s some credence to this, of course. It’s certainly true that those occupying the most powerful positions in U.S. government, on the whole, don’t legislate to the needs of the public – whether on healthcare, policing, education – the list goes on and on. But is that really because of legislators' age? Why does age have to be the focus in this analysis, rather than policy positions and, relatedly, class interests, which exist independent of age? Who does it serve to reduce the causes of U.S. austerity politics and violence to pat, Pepsi marketing-style "generation gap" discourse? On this episode show, we detail how "generations" analysis is ineffectual and, more often than not, misses the mark. We'll discuss how fears of a "gerontocracy" can – if not in intent, in effect – malign old age itself, stigmatize the elderly and, above all, distract from what could be a substantive critical analysis of real, more profound vectors of oppression such as class, racism, sexism and anti-LGBTQ currents.
Our guest in Winslow Erik Wright.