Derrick Wilburn of Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives (RMBC) explains in a stirring new piece shared on Facebook why the Democratic Party leaders are so old, while the Republican Party — adherent to its own term-limit laws — provides fresh faces in committee leadership.
Quick, name a nationally-prominent Republican who’s under 60 years of age. Those who pay even the least bit of attention to the political game can likely name Tim Scott (52), Marco Rubio (46), Mia Love, (48), Ted Cruz (46), Rand Paul (54), Trey Gowdy (51), Nikki Haley (46) among others.
In recent weeks as many as 7 Republicans who are current committee chairmen have announced their intentions to retire from Congress. Why? Many in the media are attempting to sell the narrative that its because they sense impending doom. Not true. Its’ because the Republican caucus term limits its chairmanships and these have reached the end of their terms.
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A recent piece in TheHill.com spotlights a key difference between the way the Republican caucus & Democrat caucus in Washington D.C. operate, but a difference few in the USA are aware of: “The term-limit policy, put in place by former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1994, was designed to keep the party from growing stale by regularly injecting new blood and fresh ideas into the mix.”
The GOP’s self-imposed rule is that legislators can not serve more than six years as the party’s top lawmaker on a committee. So once you’ve chaired a committee for six, you’re out and it someone else’s turn. And there’s no back-dooring it. Once you’re done, you’re done. You can’t return to committee member status for a year or two then run for Chair again. They can chair another committee, but not the same one again.
Democrats have no such rules and its at least a part of the reason there’s such a lack of youth in the Dem caucus leadership.
Apply the same question which opened this newsletter to today’s Democrat party leadership — *quick*, name a prominent Democrat, someone with presence on a national level — who’s under 60 years of age. Nancy Pelosi (78), Harry Reid (tho now retired most can name him, 80), Diane Feinstein (84), Chuck Schumer (68), Maxine Waters (80), Elizabeth Warren (70), Bernie Sanders (76 – tho technically an Independent not a Democrat) & the list goes on. All nationally prominent, all 70, 75, 80+ years of age.
Where’s the youth? Blame, at least in part, a lack of (self-imposed) term limits.
Democrats pay their dues early in their careers by carrying the water (i.e. providing necessary votes) and one day ascend to the desired position of Committee Chair, then stay there, …forever.
So what happens often times is younger Democrats win local elections, get to D.C., look up and realize that these old farts aren’t going anyplace! The old guard is from districts in which they can’t be un-elected; they’ve been their for 25 years; been chair for 14; are currently 72 years old meaning they’ll be Committee Chair for at least another 10 or 15 until they retire (if they ever do.) So the young bucks realize, “I’m frozen out.”
For example: Rep. John Conyers, who was forced to (finally) resign in December amid the #MeToo scandal, was born in 1929. Conyers helped draft the presidential articles of impeachment — against Richard Nixon! Conyers first won a seat on the Judiciary Committee in 1965. He first became Chair of the House Oversight Committee in 1989.
Imagine you’re a young lawyer, say 46 years old, a Democrat who just won an election and your dream has been to get to D.C. one day and chair a committee that’s chaired (when Dems are in power) by 70 y/o Elizabeth Warren. You know good & darn well that you’ve no hope of that chairmanship for another 10 or 15 years! What’s that do for your hopes for your future?
You’ve heard of, seen and know Trey Gowdy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Tim Scott, and they’re nationally prominent because they get a shot at the top much earlier in their careers and that, at least in part, summarizes why pretty much the only Democrats you see on the nightly news speaking from a podium into a microphone at press conferences are old farts. Nancy Pelosi, Chuch Schumer. That’s just about it.
The situation caused the National Review to write a major piece which it titled “Old-Guard Democrats Refuse to Leave the Stage” sub-title “They’re keeping new leaders from emerging.”
Are term limits a good thing? That debate rages on. But the Capital Hill Republican party took the step of self-imposing them 25 years ago and it cannot be argued that the step has not created some very noticeable separation and differences between the parties.
-A Derrick Wilburn original