One thing you will immediately notice looking at Congress. There aren’t a lot of young people. The average age of a representative is 57 years old, and the average age of a senator is 61 years old. Compare that to the median age in the United States of 37.8 years.
Of course that’s not the only way in which our elected representatives are not actually a good representation of our population. Congress is also a lot whiter and a lot more male than the population as a whole, for example. As a 52 year old white male, Congress looks a lot like me, but no so much like our population as a whole.
But the age disparity is an important one, in my mind. With age comes a certainty that our time on Earth is slowly but inevitably coming to an end. We won’t see that much more of the future.
Politically, voters tend to become more conservative as they grow older, and many think it is because they increasingly stop focusing on the future and instead look to the past of their rose-tinted memories (when they were young and physically strong, and everything in the world seemed better) for the solutions to their problems.
The Republican Party has provided a home for these voters. Their demographic is skewed heavily toward older voters (as well as whiter and male). So it should be no surprise that the policies they espouse are backward-looking rather than forward-looking.
It may be understandable, but it is no longer acceptable. We have reached a point when this refusal to consider the future, combined with the powerful motivator of greed, is endangering the future of our children and grandchildren.
There are two prime examples.
The first is the GOP policy on the environment and climate change. Old men who won’t be around to see many of the results are mortgaging the future of everyone else, to make rich people just a bit richer. In dismantling environmental regulations, ignoring the advice of scientists, ignoring or denying the problem of climate change, and crushing the agencies designed to protect our country’s natural resources, the current Administration is following an extremely irresponsible path.
But what do they care? They won’t be around to see the damage done. And in the meantime, their wealthy friends will be able to buy that second Bentley, and they’ll “generously” share their wealth with those in politics who help them to garner it.
The second example is the current GOP tax cut, which is quite literally going to be paid for by future generations. It will add at least a trillion dollars in debt, at a time when (due to the last brilliant GOP tax cut) we are also uncomfortably deep in debt. There is no such thing as a free lunch (unless you’re rich), and eventually this will have to be paid for. The bill will come due, and our children and grandchildren will have to pay it.
We all know what the GOP will want to put on the chopping block when that bill comes due. Social Security, Medicare and other social spending. They aren’t even hiding their intent very well. There is a faction in the GOP that deliberately wants to create a fiscal crisis in the United States, with all the suffering and economic chaos that would bring, just to be able to finally reverse FDR’s New Deal, responsible for bringing so many Americans out of poverty.
But what do they care? The fiscal crisis can probably be held off for another twenty or thirty years. Most of them won’t be alive to see it, and they are wealthy enough to survive it, unlike those who depend on those benefits.
You may wonder why the GOP is embarked on this dangerous and irresponsible path of mortgaging and endangering our future. There are lots of potential answers to that question: uncompromising ideology, political calculation, lack of understanding of the consequences, rejection of environmental and economic orthodoxy, etc.
But the real answer is pretty simple and pretty ugly. Greed. That’s what it is really about. A sin as old as the existence of man. Christ himself spoke more about it than just about any other sin and for good reason. It plagued his time period and it plagues ours. The Republicans are mortgaging and endangering our future for money, pure and simple. So that they and the wealthy interests and individuals that support them can get even wealthier.