by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“I’m not decrepit” is the answer, more or less, that Nikki Haley gives as her reason for running for president.
It’s a sentiment that we heard previewed last week by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who contrasted herself — the youngest governor in America — with President Joe Biden, the oldest commander in chief.
Youth can’t help but be a contrast in an America that is run by a Boomer and Silent Generation gerontocracy. On the very day that Nikki Haley announced for president, Senator Dianne Feinstein (age 89) had her retirement announced. When asked about it by reporters, she seemed not to know that the announcement had gone out, possibly not even knowing it had been decided. Joe Biden falls off bicycles, and up the stairs. America itself seems to be having a senior moment, a failure of cognition that is leading us to shoot down harmless balloons as if they were spies sent from our Oriental foes. Walking into the halls of power, one smells the whiff of talcum powder and hears the arthritic clatter of fingers diving for Werther’s Originals in a piece of Waterford china.
Really, the fact that Nikki Haley — at age 51 — can pose as the voice of a new generation is enough of an indictment itself. …
… What then is left for Haley? Her ad invokes racial and ethnic diversity and pockets it as a point of pride before moving on to an orthodox conservative approach of simple love of country. “On our worst day, we are blessed to live in America.”
The plausible case she makes for generational change is that Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections. “I’m electable.” Maybe even, “I won’t make you cringe.”
Generation X is now the most conservative age group in America. It’s also a tiny ship compared to the behemoth Boomers and Millennials.