Everybody seems to be blaming the current do-nothing state of Congress on the fractious squabbling between different ideological factions, particularly those of the Republican persuasion.
But maybe it’s not ideology at all; maybe it’s just that we have too many grumpy old men in the Senate.
It would probably require a Constitutional amendment but I think it’s time we placed an age limit on membership in the U. S. Senate.
Just as one has to be at least 35 to be President, why not enforce mandatory retirement for sitting senators?
I say this not out of any animosity towards the current crop of senatorial senior citizens. It’s just that as males approach 65, they start turning into grumpy old men. They may not start kicking puppies and small children but they do start losing patience with both and start yelling at kids to “get off my lawn!”
Now there’s nothing wrong ‘per se’ with becoming a crusty old curmudgeon as one advances into the retirement years. But I’m not sure being a superannuated grump is the best qualification for a U. S. Senate seat. A legislative body that requires collaboration and compromise is not going to function very well if it’s loaded down with a bunch of over-the-hill naysayers.
A quick glance at the current Senate roster easily identifies a handful of senators over the age of 65 who seem to be suffering from the hormonal effects of aging. Maybe it’s time we changed the rules and let these folks practice their cantankerous behavior on the board of a retirement condo or a senior’s community where their obstreperous ways would do far less harm.
I’m thinking of 77-year-old John McCain who once seemed like a straight-shooting maverick but now comes off like Mr. Wilson griping about everything that Dennis the Menace next door in The White House does. I’m not sure that kind of attitude is conducive to good governance.
Then there’s 79-year-old James Inhofe, the very senior senator from Oklahoma. Here’s a fellow who once ran on the platform “God, guns and gays” and it wasn’t to advertise his support for LGBT rights. As the years have accumulated, he’s only gotten crankier as he calls climate change a hoax and bases his support for Israel on the Bible.
Maybe it’s something in the water in Oklahoma as Tom Coburn, the state’s not-so-junior senator, seems to be an early sufferer of grumpy old man syndrome at the relatively spry age of 66. His negative approach to almost everything has earned him the sobriquet “Dr. No.”
Other aging senators also seem to be suffering from a bad case of crankiness. Consider the likes of Orrin Hatch (age 80), Mitch McConnell (age 72) and Saxby Chambliss (age 70) although, to be fair, being saddled with the name Saxby Chambliss would probably make a person cranky at any age.
Let’s face it; the Founding Fathers weren’t likely considering the possible problem of having too many ancient legislators sitting in the Senate. Heck, back in 1787, few of them could even expect to live past 65 much less worry about the legislative effects of a bunch of sitting senior citizens suffering from ongoing grumpiness.
If the drafters of the Constitution could have seen two hundred years into the future and envisioned a Senate filled with grousing geezers, I’m sure they would have included a mandatory retirement age. So let’s do their work for them and make 65 the limit before the Senate descends into terminal crankiness.