We’re so used to being ruled by elderly politicians who are decaying in front of us that it’s easy to forget how abnormal it is. But the truth is that there are countries where the vast majority of elected officials are middle-aged and even capable of completing sentences. One of these countries is Sweden. Sweden’s parliament is among the youngest in the world. The prime minister, speaker, first deputy speaker, and second deputy speaker are all under the age of 60. This is a long-running trend in the country, which elected its youngest parliament in 2014. Going back for the last decade, Sweden hasn’t had a prime minister over the age of 65.
If you’re looking for an explanation for why Sweden didn’t lock down during COVID — and many people still are looking for it — this seems like a good place to start. Led by its relatively young government, Sweden didn’t implement mask mandates. They didn’t close the schools and the restaurants and force everyone, regardless of their age, to stay in their little pods. Children didn’t miss years of education and critical social development. Small businesses weren’t destroyed. Pastors weren’t hauled out of church services and thrown in prison. And after all that — after ignoring the infinite wisdom of Tony Fauci and the World Health Organization — Sweden recorded the lowest excess death rate of any European nation during COVID. In fact, Sweden’s excess death rate was half of America’s. Suicide and overdoses didn’t spike. The morgues weren’t overrun with COVID fatalities. People over the age of 70, in many cases, voluntarily stayed at home. For everyone else, life continued as normal.
In retrospect, these are some of the benefits of having leaders on the right end of the actuarial table. As the last few years have demonstrated, when politicians aren’t themselves five seconds from keeling over, they’re less likely to bring down all of society in a desperate attempt to prolong their lives. On the other hand, when you’re governed by a gerontocracy — especially a secular gerontocracy, which has nothing to look forward to after death — then you can’t count on stability. You can’t be assured that your leaders won’t declare an emergency and take away your rights, any more than you can be assured that they won’t start World War III in Ukraine because they want to play Churchill with the time they have left.
It’s no secret that the United States has transformed into a gerontocracy in the last several years. Right now, roughly one-fourth of the U.S. Congress is over the age of 70. That number has never been higher in American history.
Today, about a quarter of Congress is over the age of 70, the highest percentage ever. At the same time, while half the country is aged 38 or younger, just 5% of Congress can say the same.https://t.co/aIP4HVT0sl pic.twitter.com/xeywxV08lP
— Insider (@thisisinsider) September 13, 2022
In 1900, nearly 40% of the politicians in the Senate and House of Representatives were in their 40s. That number is now down to just 20%. And, of course, the current president is now the oldest sitting president to ever hold the office. Joe Biden will turn 81 in just a couple of months. In fact, presidents now are so old that the two far and away frontrunners for their party’s nominations — Biden and Trump — are both older than Bill Clinton, who was elected to his first term three decades ago. When a current president is older than a former president, who has been out of office for over 20 years, you know something is wrong.
But you already knew all of this. By this point, it’s not exactly a secret that Joe Biden is old. What has only become apparent in recent days, however, is the extent of Joe Biden’s decline — as well as the willingness of Biden’s staff to put his mental decay on full display. We’re all used to seeing footage of Biden falling apart, or falling down, or falling apart and then down, in front of the cameras. What we’re not used to is what happened Sunday night in Hanoi. Joe Biden was in Vietnam, supposedly, to project strength against China. The idea is that Vietnam and the United States will work together in a new “strategic partnership” that will deter the Chinese government from, say, invading Taiwan.
But in the end, in a shocking turn of events, Joe Biden did not project strength against China. Instead, Biden led a rambling 30-minute press conference, during which he admitted he was “just following orders” from his staffers by calling on pre-selected reporters. Then Biden appeared to lose his train of thought about a dozen times, before saying out loud that he was going to bed:
Joe Biden's powerful quotes at a Hanoi, Vietnam international press conference: "I'm just following my orders here" and "I don't know about you, but I am going to go to bed". We have reached peak gerontocracy. #biden #vietnam #potus pic.twitter.com/7lrYXFWyd8
— Stellar Man (@stellarman22) September 10, 2023
That is maybe the one single quote that most encapsulates Biden’s presidency. It’s the quote he will be remembered by. “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to bed.” I have to say I was at first a little underwhelmed by Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” nickname for Biden, mostly because I would have preferred an alliteration like “Geriatric Joe” or “Bumblin’ Biden.” But it turns out Trump really nailed it.
And this was not one isolated senior moment during the presser. This went on for a while. Towards the end of his press availability, Joe Biden referred to the Southern Hemisphere as “the third world,” before realizing that’s not something he was supposed to say out loud. Then Joe Biden’s press secretary, like the man behind the curtain, cuts him off mid-sentence. Jazz music starts playing. The only thing they were missing was the big cartoon hook to drag him off stage. Watch:
Welcome to America!
This is the President of the United States having his mic cut off mid-sentence by his own staff & being ushered off stage because he’s so incoherent
I genuinely feel bad and think this man needs to be in a nursing home
Instead he’s in the Oval Office with… pic.twitter.com/CclYat5vOr
— Ashley St. Clair (@stclairashley) September 10, 2023
As embarrassing as this is, it would be a mistake to write it off as yet another Joe Biden gaffe and move on. That’s inevitably how these kinds of clips are typically spun in the media. The Right uses them to say “Aha, Biden is old,” and the Left ignores them.
But there’s something very significant about this, and perhaps the most significant takeaway from the whole incident is that this press conference happened at all. At no point did anyone in the White House — or the Pentagon, or the State Department — veto the idea of Joe Biden taking a trip to Vietnam, where he would inevitably beclown himself on camera. Why is that? They knew he’d humiliate himself and the country. He does it every time he’s asked to speak off the cuff. They knew that, unless they intervened, he’d never shut up at the podium. So why was he up there at all? Why go through the trouble of scheduling this trip? And why — as Joe Biden began rambling — did White House staffers twist the knife in such an overt, public fashion? Joe Biden’s own press secretary played him out with lounge music, against his wishes, while he was still talking. It’s hard to think of a more obvious way to humiliate a president of the United States.
If we’re trying to intimidate China, this is a strange strategy, to say the least. On the other hand, if the goal was to give Xi Jinping a laugh and convince him that Taiwan is his for the taking, then actually the Biden administration just succeeded beyond its wildest imagination. The U.S. government, by sending Joe Biden to Hanoi, erased any doubt in Beijing as to the capability of Joe Biden to stand up for Taiwan or any other country in the region. You have to wonder if that was the real point of this trip. Maybe an administration that’s beholden to China wanted to send a signal to Beijing that they have nothing to worry about.
If that’s the case, then Joe Biden’s presser is just one of many such signals that have been sent to our adversaries in recent weeks. 81-year-old Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t going to push back on China’s territorial ambitions any time soon. That much is clear. He’s no longer able to reliably answer questions from the media without freezing up completely. In between reaffirming his indefinite commitment to spending billions of taxpayer dollars on Ukraine, McConnell is doing his best impression of a stroke victim. You’ve likely seen the clips of McConnell standing at the microphone staring blankly off into space, unable to speak, somehow managing to make John Fetterman look downright communicative by comparison. Of course, McConnell’s physician wrote a “nothing to see here” letter, insisting that McConnell is in tip top shape. But you’d have to have dementia yourself to believe that.
Last week, to give yet another example, 83-year-old Nancy Pelosi claimed that she’s running again to represent San Francisco because she’s “in gratitude” to her constituents, who really need her to address the “challenges” the city is facing. Watch:
Pelosi on running for reelection: "The needs that our city have right now really call for me to stay another term. At the same time, our democracy is at risk when we talk nationally." pic.twitter.com/0u47t4YrfV
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) September 8, 2023
In San Francisco, fecal matter is all over the place, robberies are so frequent that news reporters can’t cover crime anymore without getting robbed themselves, and the city’s office buildings are empty. Therefore, what San Francisco needs now, Nancy Pelosi says, is more of the same leadership that put them in that position. What it needs most of all is an ancient, decrepit old woman who has been in politics for 40 years and accomplished absolutely nothing the entire time.
Somehow this sales pitch will work. Nancy Pelosi will indeed win re-election, assuming she can survive to that point. In fact, if we’re being honest, it may not even be necessary that she survives. Last year a Democrat Pennsylvania state representative named Tony DeLuca was re-elected even though he died a month before Election Day. In that same election, coincidentally enough, John Fetterman became one of Pennsylvania’s two senators, even though he hasn’t been able to string sentences together for a very long time. You’ve seen all the painful videos over the last year or so, and in case you’re wondering if Fetterman has improved in recent weeks, the answer is that he has not. Here he was filming a campaign spot for Bob Casey while wearing his signature hobo hoodie, during which Casey is holding back laughter because of how absurd the whole thing is:
Senator John Fetterman’s new endorsement ad is… pic.twitter.com/YiI8gAXrJx
— Dom Lucre | Breaker of Narratives (@dom_lucre) August 21, 2023
“Can you help chipping in a couple bucks, this is serious,” says the 54-year-old adult male who refuses to wear anything other than a hoodie, even when he’s representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate.
John Fetterman is not an elderly man, but he’s the kind of politician who could only get elected in a gerontocracy. Only a country that has stopped caring about mental competence would even contemplate electing someone like Fetterman to represent a state of 13 million people. And we are long past that point. Dianne Feinstein doesn’t understand much, but she understands that. She currently represents a state of 40 million people, even after surrendering power of attorney to her daughter. Feinstein has also apparently surrendered legislative powers to her staff, who told her to shut up and vote “aye” in the middle of a hearing just last month:
Beyond the obvious point — which is that Dianne Feinstein is a decaying husk who shouldn’t even have a driver’s license, much less a Senate seat — notice again how the staff handle this situation. They just come right out and tell Feinstein what to do, in full view of the public. They’re not ashamed in any way of admitting that they’re running Feinstein’s office. In that respect, they’re just like Joe Biden’s handlers, who have no problem silencing the president of the United States with jazz music, like he’s a drunk winner at some award’s show that no one watches.
What this shows us is not simply that we’re living in a gerontocracy. This is much worse than that. These episodes reveal that, like the late Soviet empire, we’ve actually gotten used to living in a gerontocracy. We’re not ashamed of it anymore. Political operatives — whose entire job is to shield their bosses from bad press — have no problem shoving this in our faces. This means our gerontocracy is much more than an international embarrassment, it’s now a full-blown national security crisis. They aren’t just laughing at our leaders in East Asia right now. This isn’t just social media fodder for them. At this moment our enemies are proceeding with the understanding that our government is incapable of holding a press conference, much less mounting any kind of defensive response to a surprise attack. And unfortunately for all of us, they’re probably right about that.