The pageantry and pandering were on full display as the nation watched two rounds of Democratic presidential primary debates. The best visual of the debates came on night two when millennial candidate, and South Bend Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg’s podium was placed directly next to former Vice President, Joe Biden’s. The juxtaposition of the two highlighted the age difference between them–which spans nearly four decades, the largest age gap between candidates in political history.
Buttigeig leveraged his millennial status during multiple shouting matches on stage, and attempted to speak for the young people of the nation. Yet, Biden always had a long list of actual experience to back up his stances. In the New York Times, Bryce Smith, the Democratic Chairman in Des Moines, explains “The age thing is going to be one of the wedges by the time we get to the caucus next year, it’s that question of experience versus new leadership.”
The day after the debates, Neil Cavuto reported on the topic of presidential age with a panel of millennials on his Fox News segment:
“We need a candidate that’s in our age range, that shows our values, reflects what we care about–not just marijuana–it’s economic issues, environmental issues” Leeza Garber, a millennial attorney explained.
“Values really matter; age, I am not so sure makes a big deal. In 2016, more millennial voted for Bernie Sanders (who is just about the same age as Joe Biden) than Trump and Hillary combined.” Michael Parrish Dudell, a millennial entrepreneur argued.
“Pass the torch” was pointedly repeated throughout the night from younger candidates to their elders as a way to encourage fresh faces in the Democratic party. Do they have a point? According to a Pew Research study only three percent of Americans say candidates in their 70s are ideal presidential material.
Early on in the cycle, I wrote about Buttigeig and his awful “intergenerational justice” idea. As a way to spread the wealth from older generations to younger people, this wealth tax proposal would be a bad idea for all involved. As more candidates have entered the race and released more plans, the idea of bailing out millennials has unfortunately become more popular (e.g. All the candidates planning to wipe out student debt).
It seems that the Democratic party will prioritize pandering to millennials over sound policy proposals in the months to come.