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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/29/19

Battering Candidates Because of Their Age is Catastrophically Stupid: Remember Gandhi, Mandela, and Churchill!

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Responding to an Opinion piece in today's Santa Fe New Mexican, "the oldest paper in the West," on the front page of the Opinion section, prominently displayed; I submit this to OEN so that readers and our writers will speak up similarly as this kind of ridiculous invective occurs more and more often, as the campaigns move toward November 2020.

My view - "Joe and Bernie: Take a seat here and mumble with me," by Robert Cox, was one of the most offensive things I have ever seen in the New Mexican. With one tawdry insult on aging after another, it sounded more like an adolescent making fun of old people than any coherent or sane opinion worthy of being on your esteemed Opinions page. Do you share his views to place it so prominently?

To quote a far more intelligent article in the Washington Post that came out the same day, by Chappel and Edelstein, (Historian at Duke, and English professor at UMass), entitled "No one is too old to be president":

"The question of whether elderly people are suited for executive office can be better answered with the tools of history. And history suggests that they are: South African leader Nelson Mandela, Britain's Winston Churchill and Konrad Adenauer, chancellor of West Germany for 14 years after the end of World War II, were all highly effective political leaders well into their 70s. Those worried about aging leaders might have in mind Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, whose leadership capacity was affected by Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, respectively. We should remember, though, that neither of those diseases is especially common, and about 90 percent of the population over 65 is not afflicted by either.

The mismatch between popular ideas and scholarly research should not surprise us. History shows, too, that the devaluation of old age has more to do with culture and economics than it does with biology.

Rather than contemplate the disqualification of candidates because of their advanced age, we would do well to consider how older candidates might bring a heightened awareness to issues of inequality and discrimination, a wealth of policy expertise, and the adroitness and diplomacy that comes with years of experience in the government. Audre Lorde observed that "the generation gap is an important social tool for any repressive society." If we view older candidates with suspicion and contempt merely because of their age, we risk missing out on the potential for intergenerational collaboration - a crucial resource in the graying century to come."

The author of that My View denigrating these candidates is oblivious to the central fact in Bernie's candidacy, and quite astonishingly ignorant to the fact that young people trust him and trust his ideas far more than those candidates 30 years younger. Journalists on his campaign say that they have trouble keeping up with Bernie Sanders, given his health.

Bernie reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi who at 61 led the long Salt March to the sea and thereby broke the back of the myth of British moral superiority, as his biographer Louis Fischer wrote; if you recall, Fischer was played by Martin Sheen in the 1982 film by Richard Attenborough, which won 8 Academy Awards.

Indians struggling to rid their nation of the British trusted Gandhi implicitly, like a personal hero or as almost a religious figure to them.

Similarly, a growing number of Americans want and trust only Bernie Sanders to repair the on going cumulative damage done to our nation; to not see that is the worst kind of catastrophic political ignorance. I am reminded of Herman Wouk, author of Winds of War and Mutiny on the Bounty, still going strong and writing more books at 103. His relevance would only be questioned by the belligerently ignorant.

As to Biden, I don't support him, but I would never be so oblivious as to posit that he was too OLD to be President.


Here is the verbatim text of the New Mexican My View in question:

Byline: Robert E. Cox

A note to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders:

I've been wondering ... are you finding that it's taking a little more time to straighten up each morning? Find yourselves ordering hot tea instead of a cold beer? Have you visited Amazon looking for heated socks? Are those headlights coming at you at night starting to flare? How's the hearing? Really, now, how's the hearing? Be honest.

I'm gonna guess from your appearance (increasingly rumpled, I note) that you're both still buying green bananas, and you're still picking up those two-packs of large tubs of Metamucil at Sam's Club. I mean to say that you're not padding in the pasture in your slippers, quite yet.

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