As a Republican, you don’t have to remind me that my party is considered one of old, white dudes. To a point, there are benefits of service and seniority. Maybe not necessarily in electing a 70-year-old with no government experience President, but institutional knowledge and tenured people who understand government can be an asset.
You also need a bench of rising stars who can lead a party in the next generation. For Republicans, you’re talking about Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (40), Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse (45), Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger (39), and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (42), to name a few.
At a time when an old, divisive Republican President is the face of the opposition, you’d think Democrats would be highlighting their young stars at every given opportunity. But, instead, it’s the same old faces: Elizabeth Warren (68), Nancy Pelosi (77), Bernie Sanders (76), and Joe Biden (74).
Biden is especially interesting, as I saw news yesterday that he is not ruling out a bid for the White House in 2020, an election that would be held a couple of weeks before his 78th birthday. The seemingly youngest Democrats with immediate ambition are Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy (44), New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (48), California Senator Kamala Harris and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (both 53).
The problem for Democrats is that their party is getting younger and more progressive. In California, 84-year-old liberal stalwart Dianne Feinstein is facing a challenge from the left next year by State Senate Leader Kevin de León, nearly 35 years her junior. Young, progressive, environmentally minded, technically fluent millennials are going to care less and less about what these liberal stalwarts did in the 60’s and 70’s and more about the issues they relate to.
In fact, if Donald Trump manages to hang on through the 2020 general election, a race against a Warren or Biden will help him continue to drive wedge issues and depress Democrat turnout like he did last year. Democrats need to find a young, relatable, policy-centric star that can be their face for the next decade, or they may not like what happens next.
Patrick Pfingsten is an award-winning journalist, political consultant, and PR expert. You can find him on Twitter @pfingsten1 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.