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Sep 29th
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Why We Need Older Statesmen In Times of Crises


M any of the Republican-Party detractors of Joe Biden say that—at age 77—he is now too old to become the President of the greatest country in the world. This writer, however, reckons that many Americans will not mind having an “Old Joe Biden” as their leader for as long as he is the “Joe Biden of Old.” Why? Read on . . .


Political history has so-many recorded instances of a people opting for more-experienced and older leadership in times of a state crisis – whether caused by political reasons, economic upheavals, military threats or a combination of all the factors.


The Lesson of Konrad Adenauer


T he Germans chose Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) as their leader and elected him—at age 73—as the first post-war Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. The German voters were right. Mr. Adenauer’s experienced leadership ensured West Germany's transition to a sovereign, democratic state. He oversaw the ending of the military occupation of West Germany in 1952 and in 1955 West Germany was recognized internationally as an independent nation. It joined NATO also in 1955 and the European Economic Community in 1957.  Mr. Adenauer was not only West Germany's first post-war Chancellor but he became a key, if not the dominant, figure in rebuilding the country after the ashes left by World War Two – both economically and emotionally. He restored Germany’s national pride and self-confidence.


Mr. Adenauer continued to be re-elected well into his 80s and retired as Chancellor in 1963 at the age of 87. He continued to be politically active and remained the head of his political party, the Christian Democratic Union, until 1966 – at age 90. He passed away a year later.


The Example of Ronald Reagan


A mericans were in deep trouble in 1980. America’ economic problems were primarily caused by inflation. The American pride, esteem and self-confidence were that low due to the inability of their government to rescue the American diplomats held captive for more-than a year in Iran. In 1980, they turned to an old leader. They voted for Ronald Reagan, who was almost 70-years old at the time of his inauguration as the 40th President. Mr. Reagan won overwhelmingly in both popular and electoral votes (489 electoral votes to 49) over a much-younger and re-electionist President Jimmy Carter.


The voters re-elected President Reagan in 1984 at age 73 when the United States and the Free World were at the height of fighting the “Cold War” against the Soviet Union and the communist countries under the “Evil Empire,” as Mr. Reagan called the Soviet Bloc. The American voters were right in choosing an “Old Reagan” – and his exemplary public service as the "Reagan of Old" – and he led the nation in restoring economic prosperity. President Reagan also assured world peace by maintaining the right military strength. Under Mr. Reagan’s inspirational leadership, the world witnessed people-powered peaceful revolutions that toppled authoritarian regimes from the Philippines to East Europe. Now, history books have dubbed the Reagan years as the “Reagan Revolution.”


Why Often Experienced Leaders Do Well


O ld age does not mean an inability to work for constructive changes. In fact, old-and-experienced hands hold the key to what could be had as viable changes. Changes cannot be had by oratory alone; even the more-eloquent Ronald Reagan could not do it by political speeches only. It actually takes a much-respected leadership to obtain bipartisan support. A leadership in government that is respected takes years, if not decades, to acquire and nurture. It often cannot be acquired online or in Wall Street.


The present American infrastructures can be compared to those of post-war Germany. The United States needs to rebuild its crumbling bridges, roads, railways, ports, airports and highways as it prepares to fight Global Warming. The United States is looking for an American version of Konrad Adenauer, if not a 21st-century version of Mr. Reagan -- all rolled into one leader that has the passion of a Jerry Brown, who became the governor of California for the third time as a septuagenarian. The American economy -- as ravaged by the once-in-a-century pandamic -- is worse that it was in 1980 – before an “Old” Mr. Reagan became President.

And the current President, Donald J. Trump, adopted the "IBOD Strategy," (as I coined it) in fighting the pandemic. IBOD is the acronym for "Ignore, Blame Others and Distract" as a strategy.

Certainly, Chancellor Adenauer, President Reagan and Governor Brown did not use the "IBOD Strategy" in dealing with so-many crises in their governance.


There is another reason why an “old” experienced leader does well often, if not most of the time. Older leaders like Chancellor Adenauer, President Reagan and Governor Brown worked hard to leave a long-lasting positive legacy. Because it was literally and figuratively their last shot at greatness, if not immortality – from the viewpoint of history. # # #

Editor's Note: This article (as edited and updated) was first written in June 2010 as an endorsement for then-candidate for governor, Jerry Brown.



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