We need some new blood in government. And by that, I mean some people who are younger, more enthusiastic, more energetic, more youthful in their approach to our collective problems.
And I am not just talking about people like 77-year-old Bernie Sanders, who recently announced he would again seek the office of president. Yes, I personally believe being almost 80 when you take office is too old to run this vibrant country. We have a minimum age, and we should have a maximum age as well.
Discrimination? Well, if so, then it works both ways. If 80 is not too old, maybe 21 is old enough.
I am not saying older people shouldn’t serve. They should. I absolutely agree that with age people generally have more wisdom. Not all people, of course. We see evidence daily that many older politicians have little or no wisdom, in fact.
I especially would like to see younger people running for local elected office. Sadly, many don’t because of work, young families and simply not enough time in their busy lives to take on the demands of office.
I get it, certainly. But that can lead to people serving for decades in positions that should have fresh ideas way more often than that.
Many long-serving elected officials are forward thinking, dedicated public servants. Many others have simply been in their positions too long and continue to fight the battles they first engaged in decades ago. Long simmering feuds can keep communities from moving forward.
Too many simply don’t want to let go of the local power they have. They love being elected officials with a higher public profile. They enjoy the recognition.
That is all well and good, but is it what is best for the community? So many proclaim their love for city, state or country, but stand in the way of real progress due to their own blindness brought on by years of service. Everyone can fall into a routine, and if they didn’t like something 30 years ago, by God they aren’t going to like it now – even if it makes sense.
Not knowing when your time is done, well, that is the problem. We all see ourselves as younger and more “with it” than we probably are. But let’s be honest, even I – at the age of 55 – don’t have the energy of a 35-year-old. And many elected officials are much older than me.
Some elected officials from local school boards to the Congress, no matter their age, are aggressive go-getters. More power to those folks, but I would bet they are in the minority.
Experience counts, surely. And more experienced, older elected officials who still work as hard as anyone and care deeply about the issues are fantastic for their communities, and states and this country. I say continue to run and serve.
For those who are running and serving because they always have, or because they like the title, however, I would encourage you to let someone else have a shot. Besides having young families and demanding careers, often young people don’t run because beating incumbents can be nearly impossible.
If you have served for many years, consider giving someone else a chance. New ideas and approaches can be incredibly important. Times change, and I believe the faces of those representing us should too.