No spring chickens

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    Spotlight 8/2023
    Freiheitsstatue mit Rollator
    © Georg Lechner/Leonardo AI; Lya Cattel/

    Read Ginger Kuenzel’a column and do the exercises below to find out how much you’ve understood.

    What’s up with all the old white politicians running our country? President Biden is 80, and former President Donald Trump, who has announced that he wants his old job back, is 77. Sixty-six percent of our senators are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964); eight are even older. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is 81. Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll run again in 2028. If successful, he will be 101 by the end of that termAmtszeit​term. In the House of Representatives, nearly half of the members are baby boomers. And it’s not just old white men: Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 83 and Senator Dianne Feinstein is 90.​

    Why so many older politicians? Voters tend to prefer candidates closer to their own age. And although baby boomers make up just 21 percent of the population, they’re more likely than younger voters to go to the polls. Another reason is that incumbentAmtsinhaber(in)​incumbents have an to have an easy time doing leicht haben, etw. zu tun​easier time getting elected. In the House and Senate, 96 percent of the incumbents running in the 2020 election were reelected. Many people vote for those already in office because they feel that experience counts, while others simply vote for the name they recognize.​

    Most young people have no patience for the Republican Party’s focus on culture wars

    But times may be changing. People born after 1981 will make up half of the voting population by the end of this decade. They are voting in increasing numbers and likely helped Democrats win many close elections in 2022. In March of this year, the youth vote helped give a liberal judge in Wisconsin a resoundingdurchschlagend​resounding victory, tipping that state’s Supreme CourtOberster Gerichtshof​Supreme Court to a 5–4 liberal majority. This is significant, as state courts often have the final say on issues like women’s reproductive rightsreproduktives Selbstbestimmungsrecht​reproductive rights. Young people are not only voting more frequently, they are making their voices heard in government in other ways, too – meeting with policymakers and even running for political office.​

    Most of these young people have similar concerns. Having grown up in an era of school shootings, they want stricter gun control. Confronted with frightening predictions about the effects of climate change, they want stronger environmental laws. Being of to be of child-bearing ageim gebärfähigen Alter sein​child-bearing age, they want women to be able to make their own decisions about their bodies. Having to come of ageaufwachsen​come of age among a diverse population, they support an inclusive society and want social justice and an end to racism, homophobia, and misogynyFrauenfeindlichkeit​misogyny. They have no patience for the Republican Party’s nearly singular focus on culture wars designed to divide society, restrict people’s individual freedoms, and tell them what books they’re allowed to read.​

    The Republican Party is sometimes called the Grand Old Party (GOP). Maybe it’s no longer so grand. Just old!​

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