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Too Old For Politics

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, October 13th, 2022 - 37 comments
Categories: australian politics, Deep stuff, political education, uk politics, us politics, winston peters - Tags:

Can you be too old to represent your people?

New Zealand’s oldest person to first get elected was William Cargill at 71.

Australia’ s John Howard was 68 when he retired, and Robert Menzies was 72 when he retired as Prime Minister.

The previous US president is now 76 and will likely run again in 2024.

Winston Peters our longest-serving Member of Parliament is also 76.

The current United States president Joe Biden is about to turn 80, and isn’t giving any indication that he won’t run again in 2024.

Bernie Sanders who was Biden’s Democratic contender is 81.

British Prime Minister William Gladstone was 82 when appointed for the final time.

New Zealand Prime Minister Walter Nash was 75 stepping down from the lead role and died in office as an MP at 86.

Singapore’s nation-making leader Lee Kuan Yew was in office from 1955, Prime Minister for several decades from age 42 to 67, and an MP until he was 87.

Richard Shelby the Alabama Senator is also 87 and still serving, Chuck Grassley is still going for his people at 88, Dianne Feinstein is 88 and still going, and Robert Byrd when he quit the Senate was 92.

Then there’s Mahathir Mohammed, previous multi-term Prime Minister of Malaysia. He’s 97. He’s standing again.

Strom Thurmond, wait for it, served the people of the United States House from 1954 to 2003 and was 100 years old when he was done.

New Zealand is getting older, its voters are getting older, so its policy concerns are increasingly about ageing.

Most people running careers or businesses can’t stop to do such community representative work until after they retire at 65.

Over in Gore there’s plenty of room for young people, with 23 year old Ben Bell waiting for the final count.

Can you ever be too old to represent the people?

37 comments on “Too Old For Politics ”

  1. Corey Humm 1

    As a millennial I've always been amazed by the anti boomer rhetoric from the left because most of the economic lefty's I see are boomers, my generation is more social justice left and when we talk about economics it's about middle class things like student loans and owning your own home, where as boomers are the ones who talk about how hard it is to rent a home nowadays! Boomers are always out in force in protests, usually organize them and often outnumber the younger gens.

    We should not be talking about being too old to run for office, that's ridiculous, we should talk about removing financial barriers to running for office so we get more voices in our councils and parliament other than upper middle to super rich robots back by parties. That's one of the biggest issues with our politicians, they may be more representative in gender, race sexuality, but they are not representative when it comes to incomes and occupations. Unless 70% of NZ are lawyers and teachers, parliament isn't representative of NZ..

    Bernie Sanders is one of my generations heroes, we could learn a lot from him about running independently.

    It's good to have older voices in parliament, because they know what the world was like before neoliberalism, before user pays economies, before social media algorithms, and have been round long enough to actuality understand how things get done.

  2. Incognito 2

    I panicked because I thought I showed signs of early Alzheimer’s; Peters is 77 and hasn’t been an MP since 2020.

  3. Sacha 3

    Too old to be pundits?

  4. alwyn 4

    Walter Nash was older than you apparently think.

    You say that he was 75 when he stepped down. He was actually 75 when he became Prime Minister and 78 when he lost the election, and the job.

    He only, finally, quit as leader of the Labour Party in Parliament having just turned 81.

  5. weka 5

    Can you ever be too old to represent the people?

    of course not.

    Instead of people wanting to disenfranchise the olds, we can fix local government by paying councillors properly, giving them good support, and implement participatory democracy.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    If we are developing a systemic gerontocracy that is less about improvements in life expectancy across the board than an inevitable outcome of distribution by income, with old politicians and spiralling inequality running in parallel, then we've got a problem with too many old politicians.

    • Ad 6.1

      NZ councils aren't equipped or mandated to deal with inequality, income distribution, or life expectancy.

    • Shanreagh 6.2

      I agree with this Sanctuary…..

      Often the people with the time, now ie olds are those who don't have a finger on the pulse of what it is like as a younger person using Council facilities. So if you are no longer waiting in the rain for a bus that never comes it is difficult to imagine what it is like.

      I think the hurly burly of OTT election meetings would be enough to put many off. The ones who get through those, and I admire them, may not be the most suitable to be on Councils. Yet this is seen as a baptism of fire and how it is done. And people are apparently so much better for being racially interjected or otherwise heckled by drongos. (sarc/)

      I did not go to one public meeting this time, mainly because of Covid issues (spreader events) and am glad I did not. Many were just wall to wall heckling and rowdy if reports are to be believed.

      On the other hand the brochure that came with the papers was even handed, and I valued those who probed VFF and other leanings and published those. google can suss out background as well.

  7. Incognito 7

    FFS! I’m now watching The Intern with Robert De Niro playing a senior intern. Based on this case study I’d say the answer to the question of the OP is “No”.

  8. weka 8

    Nelson Mandela.

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    Age hits different people differently. Biden has a smart lady to keep him on his toes, I'm not sure as much is true of Winston. Nick’s Myth seems to have found a niche in Nelson, but Gerry might end up doing the scene from Tootsie.

    Gerry: "I'm just a tired old has-been."

    Dustin Hoffman: "Were you ever a popular or effective MP? No? Then how can you be a has-been?"

  10. swordfish 10

    .

    I think a clear consensus is now emerging that only 16-36 year olds from very comfortable backgrounds & fully inducted into the Critical Theory cult should be permitted to vote or run for office. The rest are deplorables.

    • Anker 10.1
      • Indeed Swordfish
    • mpledger 10.2

      I think the clear consensus is that Boomers hold a population advantage and have a greater willingness to vote. They also tend to vote for people like themselves. Altogether, that isn't great for democracy.

      We want young people and females and non-Europeans to stand and to vote and hopefully get in.

  11. Age is not the question really…it is the state of the marbles up there in the head. Some people have no original thought at age 30, 40 50 and so are hardly likely to bloom at age 70 plus.

    There are some whose marbles have fossilised in the era they felt they were influential. They have let new or different ways of thinking and behaving float away from them.

    I too like the example of Bernie Sanders. I suspect though he was a quick thinker right from the start. I also like the idea of a range of ages & stages representing us.

    So very wary of any age based suitable or unsuitable cut-offs. Not everyone seems to have a trusted other to persuade them that they may be stressing themselves and others by standing once they get too old and lacking in quick marbles. EQ is important too. Some older ones like Trump don't seem to have it

    • Tiger Mountain 11.1

      Yep, the marbles are an important factor. Bernie Sanders is one of my heroes–the best President the yankee devils never had.

      Some people are stuffed at 30 in terms of reinventing themselves or their cognitive ability.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    When I was studying at Uni we had a lecture by a professor in geriatrics. She made the point that elderly tend to get stigmatised with expected negative elderly traits (memory loss, stooped gait, etc).

    But she said that, contrary to common misconceptions, there is more variation amongst the elderly than any other age group. For instance, at age 70 some people are lying ga-ga on a bed, while others are out and about living a vital life.

    So, I think it is a case of being in a fit state for the requirements of the role, and being open to feedback if colleagues notice that there is worrying deterioration in capabilities.

    Very sad seeing the demise of Tim Shadbolt recently. I think he probably should have recognised is own age-related frailties and bowed out a term or two ago on his own terms. Same for Joe Biden who, often times, seems to be embarrassing himself in a cringe-worthy way.

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      He may be an old duffer, but he pulled NATO together to meet the threat pretty well.

      • tsmithfield 12.1.1

        That is fair. I think Biden has been doing quite well there. And he is definitely much more preferable to Trump. I get the impression that Biden also would likely take a lot more advice from his inner circle, thus compensating for any age-related weaknesses. Unlike Trump, who had all the disadvantages of age-related fixed thinking and refusal to take advice from anyone.

    • Tricledrown 12.2

      Nothing to much to worry about compared to Trump comvveevee, bonespurs ,sexual harrassment, corruption , golf cheat ,etc, atc, While Biden is gaff prone Trump is a batshit crazy narciisstic dickhead!

  13. Darien Fenton 13

    Why do we never talk about class analysis?

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