Coming from an era that used to consider anyone over 60 as old and decrepit, I am somewhat bemused that the race for the 2020 US Presidency is between two elderly white men, Donald Trump 74 and Joe Biden 77. Bemused is the wrong word, I just couldn't find the right one. Astonished might be closer, but not strictly accurate, a seasoned political commentator might have seen this state of affairs coming for a long, long time.
Saddened works too. I am saddened that the USA aren't brave enough to give their young, fiery, charismatic leaders who definitely would force through changes to the most hated government policies, a chance to do so. That these two contenders are so old, shows that the majority, when voting, want to stick to what they are used to. This sounds odd at this juncture, but bear in mind Trump was a fluke, not from the Hill, but he was still a rich old white man.
They took a huge leap of faith when they voted for Barack Obama in 2009, and it paid off, they gave him a second term. The Obama ideology became the 'norm' and Obama became one of the most popular Presidents in history. Joe Biden, as his former right hand man, benefits from this. He was the Vice President of an administration that had no impeachments and indictments. The Obama administration was clean, and in a bizarre twist, is now the traditional, stable, government, Americans look back on.
But before I go on, I should stat that my knowledge of US politics is scant, in the whole scheme of things. I remember being shocked when America voted a former Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan to be their President, I thought Bill Clinton was an amazing orator, George 'Dubya' Bush an idiot and Barack Obama charismatic and brilliant.
I don't know a huge amount about Joe Biden, but from what I have seen and read, including the words of Lindsay Graham, he is a genuinely nice guy who is motivated by a genuine desire to 'heal' the country. That is, he is exactly what America needs right now.
With regard to his gaffes, the only argument from the Trump campaign against him, they are not as important as his opponents want them to be. Anyone of any age can make gaffes, but older politicians are subjected to far more scrutiny, journalists are constantly on the look out for signs of dementia or heart failure. On the gaffs front, Trump probably beats Biden by about 100 to 1, he is obviously projecting.
But let's get back to this age thing. It is odd to see two such elderly men fighting for the Presidency, Trump is 74 and Biden 77. Maybe being 70 is now the new 60. In the 21st century, being ancient in politics is now the norm, Bernie Sanders 78, Nancy Pelosi 80, Jeremy Corbyn 71. I suppose it is a manifestation of the fact that people are staying healthier and living longer. Or maybe the grey demographic is the silent majority?
Naturally there is a big difference between the way younger and older politicians perform. The Young have more passion and urgency, they are quicker to respond, more dexterous with their thoughts and words. The elderly, which sounds awful, may be slower to respond and sound less forthright, but they have a long lifetime of experience to draw on, which will shape their answer. They are more cautious about what they say because they know the implications of their words. Younger politicians speak about hopes and dreams, older politicians are more realistic about them.
Age and experience has taught me that the slow answers are the ones worth waiting for. I once spent an entire night watching Marlon Brando interviews. There aren't that many but he took so long to each question, it took forever. Being smitten by MB I didn't mind, his answers were so clear and well thought out I was in awe, I felt I had learned a lot.
But returning to age and politics. Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman). I am sure the people of America are not in the mood to vote for something new at this time. And who could blame them. They want truth as opposed to daily lies. They want someone to take control of the pandemic that is killing thousands daily, they want someone aware of the needs of ALL of those who have lost their jobs and those in need of healthcare. Joe Biden has the unique experience of running the country from the top. He knows how to delegate, he knows how to take advice, he knows how to behave in a crisis. All the basic skills Trump simply doesn't have. Saying million instead of thousand, was a gaffe anyone could make, and a pathetic argument in the face of the multiple gaffs Trump makes daily. It exposes the weakness of Trump's re-election campaign, as in, 'is that all ya got?'.
Trump is stymied because his opponent is an old white guy like himself. Had he been female, of colour or God forbid, homosexual, he would have had a field day. 'Sleepy Joe' just doesn't carry the same hatred and misogyny as 'Crooked (lock her up) Hilary'. Putting 'Sleepy' in front of someone's name makes them endearing, not bad hombres, think 7 Dwarves. He is not able to direct the same hatred towards Joe Biden, as he did with Hilary Clinton. At that time he was an outsider on a mission to drain the swamp, Hilary being representative of the 'swamp', the establishment, every government that had gone before. Now he's the establishment, and everyone hates him.
Trump's inability to attack Joe Biden will be interesting to watch. He's used all his best stuff against Obama. He uses Biden's many years in politics as a weapon - naive, he clearly doesn't understand the concept of vocation. His own CV of failed businesses, casinos, steaks, vodka, airlines, university, charity he stole from, overpriced condos, tv stardom, doesn't scream lifetime devoted to the blue collar workers of America. Biden has mountains against him, and he is being assisted by members of Trump's own party.
Perhaps Trump sees any attack on Biden, a white man in his 70s as an attack on himself, especially those gaffes that Don junior gleefully retweets. I don't doubt that Don, at this stage of his paranoia, torments himself with thoughts of which child will stab him in the back first. What we have all experienced this past four years, is but a microcosm of what the Trump kids have experienced their entire lives. Ivanka is playing it safely, all her tweets are sugar and spice and all things nice and she pulls out all her best party frocks to demonstrate just how great everything is. She has gone to that place that is far far away, where she is the beautiful princess with a fairy wand. Sadly, that's not how the world sees her or will remember her. I suspect Lucretia Borgia and Eva Braun would poll higher.
I think the curious case of why Donald Trump's kids aren't rushing to put their father into a care home where he will get the help he needs, is a discussion worth having. I remember precisely, day, place, occasion, when I became aware that my beloved Dad was losing his marbles. I remember a long auld conversation with him, giving a minute by minute, breakdown of an interview I had that day, that took hours, filled with giggly anecdotes from him and from me that ended with him saying 'let me know how the interview goes'. Ah bless, I thought, and I was to think that many, many times from thereon.
The hardest part for my Dad, was the anger and frustration he felt towards himself for the gaffes he made. He had always been a very intelligent, very articulate and very smartly dressed man, he always wore a tie and a hat when going out. Maintaining his dignity was always his top priority, to the point where he wouldn't even use a desperately needed walking stick. We, who loved him, turned his gaffes into humour and he would laugh heartily along with us. But in our hearts, we knew how much it hurt him, and how much it would hurt him if anyone outside 'us' would think him a fool. Our instincts were to protect him. We would laugh along with, but we wouldn't allow anyone to laugh at him.
Trump cut a lonely figure coming back from that Tulsa rally, it will become iconic like the 'the Times Square Kiss (sailor and Nurse)', that pivotal moment that marked the end of the chaotic Trump era. His 1million plus rally was attended by a little over 6,000, a public humiliation of epic proportions. His instinct told him 'build it and they will come', but they didn't and are never likely to again. Trump returned to the Whitehouse alone. No wife, no son, no daughter, no friend, no paid Campaign staffer. Just him, with his previously crisp white shirt open revealing a smear of his orange stage makeup. His very fine (expensive) red silk tie undone and hanging tramp like alongside his very expensive crumpled suit as if he had spent the night paying for drug enhanced private lap dances. He awkwardly held a red MAGA hat, unsure whether to chuck it aside or hang onto it as a souvenir of when it was all going great for him. He didn't put it on and boldly pronounce, hey dumb-ass Americans, I too wear this hat of racism and isolationism so carry on wearing it with pride. I and my family feel your suffering from behind fences, barriers and walls (and a bunker). If you catch Covid-19 you are on your own, but if you batter a black person or a democrat I will pay all your legal expenses. So Trump didn't put the hat on, he just carried it. He was too 'done in' for that to be a message from his advisors and spin doctors. They would have told him to hold it up or wear it as a symbol of pride, he has a lot of hats to sell, don't hold it like it's a discarded item like a cheap deckchair found in the debris of the Trump rallies.
But lets get back on topic. Is age an issue for Joe Biden. Of course. It would be ridiculous to pretend he is the new young voice of socialism who will change the face of America as we know it. I don't think Americans are looking for polemic change right now. If anything they are looking longingly at the past, the safe, stable times of the Obama/Biden ticket.
They can't have Obama, not even Michelle, but they can have the next best thing. The man who ruled alongside him. Biden may be old, and God bless him, a little doddery on occasion, but not on those occasions where millions of lives are dependent on his decisions. Those are not decisions that should be based on arrogance and sociopathic self belief. We have already seen what happens with leaders who are prepared to commit genocide. Trump may not have state organised genocide on his record, in the same way as Hitler and Stalin, but I am writing from the here and now. I am not a scientist or a doctor, but I can see, that Trump's 'ignore the virus' politics will kill more Americans than any threat from Russia, China or the rest of the world.
So here we are, children of the future or any readers looking at the moment. We are facing the biggest crisis of our lifetimes, the potential that at least one third of the world's population will be wiped out by Covid-19. Not because we did not have the scientific knowledge to prevent the spread, but because we, the masses who have the power to change things, are intoxicated by the political diatribes of scoundrels and rogues.
It is not politically acceptable to say 100,000 or 200,000 will die. The right thing to say is that no-one else will die under my watch. But, in Trump's mind he still has leeway, his advisors told him, worst case scenario, 1 to 2million will die. For him anything less than that is a success.
I'm not religious, sadly I do not have any specific God to pray too, though I am quite fond of Buddha. He at least puts enlightenment first and foremost. I do pray however, for our friends in America. Most of them, I am sure, did not vote for this. Those of us on the outside love Americans because the best of them represents the best of all us. They are a nation of immigrants in a great big melting pot, turning out coffee coloured people by the score and we love them for it.
Astonishing, there I used it, that this 21st century presidential race is between two old guys who's best years were in the last century, but here we are. Maybe there just weren't any younger candidates dynamic enough to win a presidential election decisively? That is, someone with the 'X' factor like Barack Obama. And if they had appeared, would they have had support from the anyone but trump, Republicans? The Lincoln Project et al? Joe Biden is a safe bet for them, at heart they are conservatives and he won't upset the equilibrium. They can, in good conscience, support Joe Biden, intrinsically he has the values as they do. He's a rich old white guy.
But I am, as I am sure my regular readers know by now, very much an Anti-trumper. I hope he is defeated by the biggest margin ever, because I still love Americans, and don't believe for one minute, that the abomination that is Trump represents them.
Take care everyone, those in the USA and UK, and be cautious, trust your own instincts, don't walk into dangerous situations on the advice of false prophets. Stay safe and take care.