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OK Boomers, Let Go of the Presidency

December 22, 2022
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The U.S. is about to enter 2023, but in important ways it feels like 1960.

The president then was Dwight D. Eisenhower, a well-liked chief executive and war hero, who led Allied Forces on D-Day. Born in October 1890 in Denison, Texas, he was the last president from the 19th century. 

By 1960 voters were ready for generational change. Democrats turned away from older men who’d previously sought their presidential nod. The party’s contest that year was the first among men born in the 20th century. The oldest was Missouri Sen. Stuart Symington (who turned 59 in 1960), followed by Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (52), Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey (49) and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy (43). 

The youngest contender won the Democratic nomination.

The Republican contest pitted New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller (52) against Vice President Richard Nixon (47). The younger man won that contest, too, setting up the first presidential election between members of the Greatest Generation, both World War II veterans. The country desired change and a leader with vigor. JFK offered both and narrowly won. 

This kicked off a 32-year period during which the U.S. was governed by presidents from that remarkable generation. That group’s last president was George H.W. Bush, who was defeated in 1992 by Bill Clinton, a baby boomer. 

By 2024 we’ll have been led by boomers—those born between 1946 and 1964—or their predecessors, the Silent Generation, for 32 years as well. Joe Biden, born in 1942, is the only Silent Generation president.

What is the point of this? After more than three decades of boomers in the White House, Americans may want another generational change. Every occupant of the Oval Office visibly ages. Even in its infrequent placid moments, the job makes enormous demands on the energy, intelligence, judgment, discipline and vision of those who do it.

Our country faces a growing list of difficulties, none of which will dissipate by themselves. Energetic leadership is necessary. No president can move the country in the right direction and renew national confidence alone, but presidential leadership is vital to America’s success. 

Mr. Biden, who turned 80 in November, is struggling. We see it in his painfully awkward verbal missteps, his halting and sometimes confused public appearances, his light schedule, his frequent long weekends at home in Delaware and the cocoon his staff has constructed around him and White House decision making. 

Who believes Mr. Biden will become mentally sharper over the next two years and, if re-elected, in the four years after that? He won’t get better. The idea of voting for someone who’ll be 82 in 2024—and closer to 90 than 80 by the end of a second term—is unwise. Democrats won’t be that dumb.

Republicans don’t have it any better. Donald Trump is only 43 months younger than Mr. Biden. He’ll be 78 by the 2024 election, hoping to serve until he’s 82.

Who believes Mr. Trump will become more disciplined or stable in the next two years and, if elected, remain so in the following four years? His four years in office were chaotic, turbulent, sometimes dangerous and always exhausting. He’s since been consumed by grievances over losing, and his words and actions have often been unhinged.

The U.S. is about to enter 2023, but in important ways it feels like 1960.

The president then was Dwight D. Eisenhower, a well-liked chief executive and war hero, who led Allied Forces on D-Day. Born in October 1890 in Denison, Texas, he was the last president from the 19th century. 

By 1960 voters were ready for generational change. Democrats turned away from older men who’d previously sought their presidential nod. The party’s contest that year was the first among men born in the 20th century. The oldest was Missouri Sen. Stuart Symington (who turned 59 in 1960), followed by Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (52), Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey (49) and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy (43). 

The youngest contender won the Democratic nomination.

Read More at the WSJ 

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