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Opinion

Age Concern

11 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Joe Biden (right) and Donald Trump (far right). Picture by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Listening to the radio yesterday, I heard two American activists, one Democrat and one Republican, agree that the most likely outcome of this year’s presidential election was civil war.

Last night, Donald Trump said that if NATO member nations did not keep up with American defence spending, he would ‘encourage’ Russia to invade them.

We can agree, then, that the stakes are high, as much of the world holds elections this year. Pakistan, a nuclear state itself, has just held elections during which the most successful party’s leader, Imran Khan, languished in prison.

The UK’s Prime Minister has no public mandate, and neither did his predecessor. At home, our next First Minister is being decided by internal election within the only party ever to provide a holder of the office.

Existential threats

From Europe to the South China Sea, and western Africa, democracy faces existential threats to its continuance.

The health of democracy in the USA should be of concern to anybody who cherishes the institution, and week-by-week we are witnessing its erosion by authoritarian populism on one hand, and ossified complacency on the other.

Democracy is, you’ll remember, something in which we are supposed to participate. However, it’s mightily convenient for entrenched interests if we opt not to, and the disproportionate influence of older voters in democracies is beginning to unravel the fabric of the system.

In the UK, Brexit should have been a wake-up call. Huge voter turnout, and mass engagement with the issues around the referendum have been forgotten as the political class agonises over the unexpected result.

For once, the electorate was offered a democratic lever to pull on which was actually connected to political machinery. People voted and something changed.

Contrast that with our general elections, in which votes count only in marginal constituencies. The closed list system here in Wales is even more overtly undemocratic. ‘Vote for us and we’ll pick someone you’ll probably like,’ is an insult that no voter should tolerate.

With manifestos crafted to appeal to older voters in a handful of constituencies, it is no surprise that engagement is so poor amongst younger citizens. It has brought us to the point where the property market is impoverishing young people who see no electoral route out of a political landscape that explicitly disadvantages them.

Disengagement 

The disengagement of younger voters has created a vacuum into which antidemocratic forces can step. Characters as disparate as Trump, Musk, Putin, MBS, and Xi Jinping all offer ways of doing things that barely pay lip service to public consent.

The perception is that they can, unburdened of constitutional restraint, ‘get things done’ and that is a genuine lure for people who feel effectively disenfranchised by the political establishment.

So, the spectacle of Joe Biden trying to advocate for his own firmity this week is alarming. Biden has, to be fair, ushered in policies that chime with younger American voters. Forgiveness of student debt and investment in green technology are retail offers that cut through.

If progressive America, though, must rely upon an octogenarian with obvious cognitive challenges to deliver these policies, it is in trouble.

Politics is, by necessity, the cruellest human arena. Progressive ideals cannot be advocated for effectively by a politician who personifies decay. To allow this risks associating necessary reforms with decline and obsolescence. In those circumstances, the overtures of hucksters gain credibility, and via them we submit to tyranny.

Democracy must not die of old age. We urgently need the emergence of young leaders who can articulate the requirements of government for the decades ahead.

In that spirit, Joe Biden must stand down from the election. The personal is, indeed, political.


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

They are both, to be cruel, ‘dead men walking’ but in Trumps’ case someone might see fit
to prevent World War Three, the opposite to what happened to the skipper of PT109…

TBLM1957
TBLM1957
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The skipper of who what where? Please elucidate.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  TBLM1957

You are supposed to sleuth it out… During the war in the pacific the man that became the president of the USA who was shot in Dallas, Texas after facing off the Russians in the Cuban Missile Crisis, therefore avoiding a third world war, was the skipper of an American Torpedo Boat sliced in two by a Japanese Destroyer. He saved the lives of his crew and himself until that terrible day in Dallas. When my mother heard the news over the kitchen radio she burst into tears, I was 10 years old at the time and remember it vividly…… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Mab Meirion
Richard Davies
Richard Davies
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Avoiding a third world war? Ha, don’t make me laugh! kennedy threatened to launch nukes at russia, saying just locating missiles in Cuba was an attack on the usa. He would’ve caused the war! Also, which country has actually used nuclear weapons in war? Oh yeah, the usa. Which country is it that has military bases in other countries around the world? Again, it is the usa—all while accusing its “enemies” of wanting to do so! If the most likely outcome of this year’s us presidential election is civil war then good, bring it on. It would, hopefully, bring about… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Richard Davies
Rob
Rob
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

I am in no way defending US foreign policy. Yes both the US and UK have lots of flaws and a lot to answer for, but I would side with them over Russia or China any day. You don’t see journalists or political opponents being silenced or poisoned for criticising Joe Biden or Rishi Sunak. We can at least campaign for Welsh independence without the fear or prospect of being thrown in jail for doing so.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Rishi could contract it out, ask a Sikh…the second bit ha ha ha, see my first statement…

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Are you accusing me of supporting russia or china? Point out what I have said that categorically indicates support of either?

I am not on the side of russia, china, usa or uk. There is only one country that has my support – Cymru!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

With my usual ‘poetic licence’…

Have you just woken up from an extended coma, calm down…

Seriously we are in a bit of a fix, aren’t we…LoL

Jeff
Jeff
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

Bombs in WWII happened for a valid reason made at that time, awful outcomes for not using them as well. The US falling will see you as Putins slave in short order. We are out the EU now, NATO is all we have left and Trump will burn the world to line his pockets. He is a thug, a bully, and bought, tghwe GOP are terrible and many rights especially women’s rights are going and that translates across the pond to the UK (heritage foundation etc.) China and Russia are Trumps owners with a dash of Saudi. Nothing good will… Read more »

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

No, there was no justification for dropping the 2 nuclear bombs. The war in Europe was over by then and Soviet troops were all set to be mobilised to take on Japan. Using nuclear weapons was a warning to the ussr that the usa had them. We don’t need the usa to save us from putin. I know all about trump, I don’t need you to tell me! So you are now making out I support trump! Point out what I have said that categorically indicates support of him? This doesn’t mean I support him, but are you aware that… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

The marines that fought across the islands knew what would happen with a land invasion of japan. Stalin knew about the bombs anyway. Okinawa was the clincher, after awful battles like iwo jima and pelilieu. re trump and wars. He handed syria to russia. He has just given Putin the go ahead to invade more european countries and trump tried to strong arm President Zelenski for his own gain. He will abandon Ukraine and NATO. He will wipe out women’s rights, he will ruin you for his gain. Trump is loving this “look over there, old guy” stuff. He is… Read more »

Jeff
Jeff
4 months ago

One president lifted the nations fortunes but this president is the one the age card is played on. The president that tanked the US and led a violent insurrection and convicted for rape and promised to be dictator and just given Putin the go ahead to invade whoever, not a peep. Also trump forgets lots and gaffs all the time.

Interesting how trumps team have the biden age in the news, you are being played.

TBLM1957
TBLM1957
4 months ago

Oh dear, Ben, did you just say that Biden MUST stand down? Really? Do please tell me,, when was the last time a serving US president didn’t automatically stand for his party in the next presidential election, if he’s only serve one term? Has anyone ever stood to one side and let someone else through?

Ben Wildsmith
Ben Wildsmith
4 months ago
Reply to  TBLM1957

LBJ

hdavies15
hdavies15
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben Wildsmith

Only because he knew that he would have to do a lot of backtracking over Vietnam. He was in too deep, worn out by it, and knew the likely outcome.

Rob
Rob
4 months ago

Following the events of 6 January 2021, and his attempt to overturn the democratic process in his favour, Trump should have been disqualified from running for office.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
4 months ago

Currently we live in the age of liars. Where truth is avoided like tax. Honesty in akin to a hot potato. What a world we live in? I feel sorry for our children’s children. What gifts we will leave them. One present I’d leave under the Christmas tree. If any exist in the future. For example. There’s crazed comb-over egomaniac ex- US president Donald “Judas” Trump with his pernicious alternative facts, penchant for inciting riots and love of water sports. I hear he’s an excellent surfer but not much of a diver. A less said about his fondness for pussys… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

They sure ain’t Ryan and Ronnie….

‘A fly-past of MacD boxes reflected in the puddles’, only the Norwegian Church looked real, all the rest was monochrome, my memory of my pilgrimage to Desolation Bay…

I should have made it two trips to Rome (=a 4th to St Davids)

Chin up Y Cymro, it is the year of the Dragon…

Jim1
Jim1
4 months ago

No politician or government in the West can realistically offer growing living standards for all anymore, due to growing resource constraints and that will seriously challenge the various shades of democratic governance. Increasing levels of authoritarian control could be the future and we already witness that even in the UK.

In his book Carbon Democracy, author Timothy Mitchell links the rise of fossil fuel availability to the growth of democracy and questions whether that democratic gain can survive the future changes to a society without oil etc.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim1

Reach for John Seymour’s self-sufficiency and seek the advice of an old hippie…

Laugh I could cry, we told you so…

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim1

Greater equality would grow the living standards for the many

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