One of the things I noticed about getting older was the fact that people started to treat me a bit more seriously. The one demographic that seemed to treat me more seriously were younger women and as I’ve blogged previously, its fun to have a young chick drop enough hints that you’re interesting until your kid tells you that you’re behaving like a “Disgusting Old Man.”
I’m bringing this up because there’s a new phenomenon in politics – “Cool Old People.” The most prominent instance of the “Cool Old Person,” is in the USA. The election in November will be between Donald Trump who is 74 and his possible opponents, which include Bernie Sanders (age 78), Joe Biden (age 77) and Michael Bloomberg (also age 78). The only exception among the current Democrats is Mr. Buttigieg, who is a sprightly 38-year-old. Interestingly enough, Mr. Sanders, who is the current front runner is most popular among young voters (my younger brother’s friends are all proud Sanders supporters), while the youthful Mayor Pete is more popular with older voters and struggles with the younger crowd.
Here in Singapore, the coolest thing in politics is Dr. Tan Cheng Bok, the Secretary General of the newly formed Progress Singapore Party (PSP), who is a sprightly 79-years old. I’ve mentioned in my previous post “Grandpa’sRevenge,” that the most striking thing about being in a PSP gathering is the fact that nearly one was over 45 but also highly energized. While you would not associate the term “rock star” with a 79-year-old, Dr. Tan was certainly that.
Why is it such that we’re now seeing a group of old people being so cool with the kids? Perhaps it has something to do with old people being able to speak their mind and being able to address the issues that interestingly enough, affect the young. In Singapore, the PSP have very cleverly made the issue of affordably housing one of their teams. In the USA, it’s 78-year-old Bernie who is discussing things like “Medicare for All,” and forgiveness of student debt.
If Bernie Sanders is currently front runner for “most popular granddad,” it’s because he actually is the granddad speaking for the issues that matter to the kids, which somehow the parents don’t want to discuss. Having the prefix “grand” next to your family title gives you certain peculiar privileges with kids. I think of my recent trip to Vietnam where I got to hang out with my grandnephew Krishna who described me as “my best friend.”
The question is simple – how many of us were actually closer to our grandparents than to our parents? I’m sure many would say that they have great memories of their grandparents, the figures who were had been there and did that and could tell you that your parents were fussing over something that didn’t matter all that much and what really mattered was love and concern.
In politics, we’ve talked of “Dad” issues like defense and security and “Mum” issues like education. Well, we have “Grandparent” issues, which are essentially the issues parents think of but they go one step further. Grandpa knows that education is important but he also understands you shouldn’t be crippled by student loans. Grandpa understands that knowing how to fight is important but it’s easier to be friends with people than to bully them.
People facing the “Cool Grandpa’s” should never dismiss them for being old. They should remember grandpas have grand kids who will stick up for their grandparents.