Judd Gregg: A country for old men

Judd Gregg: A country for old men
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The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he is 'seriously' considering a capital gains tax cut Why Joe Biden is in trouble Harris favored as Biden edges closer to VP pick MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: LIVE: Trump from Gettysburg | The many unknowns of 2020 | Omar among those facing primary challenges Trump's personality is as much a problem as his performance Sierra Club endorses Biden for president  MORE (I-Vt.), are 76 years old and 77 years old respectively.

The presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE, is 72 years old.

There are of course another 20 or so candidates running on the Democratic side for president. A few are in their late 60s, but most are relatively young.


The only declared challenger to Trump on the Republican side is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE, who is 73. There is no discernible youth movement afoot in the Republican Party.

The constitution states that a President shall be at least thirty-five years old.

The Founding Fathers presumably thought there was some advantage to having as president a person who had a reasonable amount of time on earth, and the experience and discernment that come with it.

However, it is unlikely that they foresaw a point when the nation’s electorate would be choosing among a group of three leading candidates whose ages total over 220 years — an aggregate age only a little less than that of the nation itself.

When there is so much media and intellectual attention on the rise of Generation X, the Millennials, and whatever label has been assigned to those born in the last decade, it is a unique testament to the power of the baby boom generation that they stubbornly refuse to leave the stage of political power.

The enduring influence of people born in the years after the Second World War can be traced to a number of factors.

One obvious component: theirs remains the largest generation in American history.

This generation was also uniquely active, politically, as it passed through the different times of its experience.

There was the trauma and protest that engulfed the nation during the Vietnam War.

There was the rise of the civil rights movement under Dr. Martin Luther King, and the political energy it released.

There was the beginning of the modern women’s movement with marches in the late 60s.

There was the chaos of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and the disgrace of the Watergate scandal that undid President Nixon.

The list goes on and on, but with one common denominator: the baby boom generation has changed America fundamentally.

They do not appear to be finished yet.

Or are they?

Biden seems to plan to win by getting endorsements from Big Labor, established players in early primary states, big contributors and long-time allies.

His strategy is reminiscent of the one-time leading candidate for the 2016 Republican nomination: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Jeb’s problem, and potentially Joe’s too, is that Jeb met a disrupter.

The Republican Party and the country wanted a disrupter.

A huge number of voters, in both the primaries and the general election of 2016, were tired of the old way. Even after four years of Trump, many voters might still hold that view.

It is of course very possible that, given the sheer size of the Democratic field, Biden will be able to finish third, second or even first enough times in the primaries and caucuses to grind out the necessary delegates to win the nomination.

But he is at risk of meeting a disrupter; someone who catches the wave and washes him away.

Sanders is a disrupter. There is no question about that.

He has taken the debate within the Democratic Party from its traditional center-left, liberal dialogue and moved it dramatically into the language of socialism.

Sanders’s success in shifting the terms of Democratic debate back to a time of socialist initiatives like nationalized medicine, universal free college education, massive tax increases on high income people and a carbon-free nation may not translate into him winning the nomination, however.

Above all else, Democrats want to beat Trump.

There is real concern that nominating Sanders would in effect reelect Trump.

Or maybe Sanders could be another beneficiary of the large field? If he holds together his vociferous base and comes out with, say, 25 percent of the vote in the early states, that could be enough to take the lead and become the unstoppable winner of the Democratic nomination.


It’s possible, of course that the Democratic nominee will be someone younger. Recently, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan dies How Republicans can embrace environmentalism and win MORE (D) has drawn a lot of attention. He is just 37.

The Republicans will most assuredly nominate their elder “statesman” Donald Trump — although a title less applicable would be hard to find.

That puts one old guy in the final round for sure.

If Biden or Sanders gets the Democratic nomination — and either possibility is plausible — that would make it two for the baby boomers and zero for the younger generations.

This presidential race has a long way to go. Many unforeseen things can happen.

But do not count the old boys out yet.

This may be a country for old men.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.