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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

For all our sakes, Joe, it’s time to go

What do they have to prove? To whom do they have to prove it? Joe Biden, left, and Donald Trump. (AP Photo)

“Younger leaders will make mistakes, even create catastrophes, but they offer something that old fogeys can’t: vision, excitement, a feeling of belonging, and hope,” writes (mature) columnist HUGH SELBY

Why do today’s powerful people who are ‘past it’ cling to power? Bumbling Joe is 81, Donnie the inveterate liar is 78, the killer of children Netanyahu is 74, and the killer of both children and opponents Putin is 71.

Hugh Selby.

What do they have to prove? To whom do they have to prove it? 

We’d all be better off if they quit public life and left it to much younger people to be today’s leaders, if for no other reason than those much younger have a future they must share with others.

That’s not to say that younger leaders won’t make mistakes, won’t let ambition and arrogance interfere with decision making. 

They will make mistakes, even create catastrophes, but they offer something that old fogeys can’t: vision, excitement, a feeling of belonging, and hope.

Winston Churchill was in his 60s during World War II.

Barack Obama was 47 when he became US President. 

Franklin Roosevelt, who served three terms, was also in his 40s when first elected at the tail end of the Great Depression.

Paul Keating was 47 when he became Prime Minister. Love him or hate him he brought excitement. He still does, in commentary on issues such as superannuation and our relationship with China. And that’s the important point: he moved from active leadership to the sharing of wisdom.

Bob Menzies was 71 when he stood down as Prime Minister.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, is 46. We’ve seen him everywhere: with his countrymen in battle areas, addressing parliaments, giving backbone to courage and persistence. He has presence and charisma.

By contrast, we see the Donnie in a golf cart, or behaving badly in a courtroom or on a stage squawking quack remedies to make America Great Again. 

When his insurrectionists stormed the Capital he incited from the safety of the White House. No character references from him when his pawns later faced the criminal courts.

We see Joe, intent for reasons unknown to ignore the polls that have him trailing the great shyster and still thinking that he should be the voters’ alternative. 

Who are those voters?

The population of the US is 340 million. As of the 2020 census, those aged between 18 and 74 – those who should have an interest in voting – made up 70 per cent of that population. 

At this year’s presidential election in November therefore there are potentially 238 million voters. At the 2020 elections, where Biden defeated Trump, the voter turnout was the highest ever at just under 67 per cent.

Was that because both sides saw the opponent as just plain awful? Put another way, did they go out to vote against a candidate, not for a candidate?

Will voters be apathetic, too fed up to bother?

What will it be this year? Will the voters be apathetic, too fed up to bother, or will they be eager, fearful or both? 

At last week’s UK general election the turnout was just under 60 per cent, the lowest since 2001. That despite the polls long predicting a landslide. 

Boring Keir Starmer got 600,000 fewer votes than losing former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn at the last general election.

In France last week the voter turnout in the second round of the parliamentary election was also just under 60 per cent, but this was a large increase from the 38 per cent in the 2022 election.

The turnout was also slightly up on the first round – suggesting the final figure could be the highest for 50 years.

After the first round the unimaginable became a strong prospect: a far-right government looked imminent. Its charismatic leader is 28 years old. There’s a half century between him and the US presidential candidate dotards.

Prime Minister Attal beseeched voters: “Today the danger is a majority dominated by the extreme right and that would be catastrophic”. The voters came out and the far-right threat was repulsed.

But would American voters be similarly motivated to come out in November? Despite the four appalling years of his presidency, Trump received about 74 million votes in the 2020 election. That’s almost 47 per cent of the popular vote. 

Put starkly, Joe was so unpopular in 2020 that despite the much-publicised misconduct of Trump and members of his team, there were 74 million adult Americans who’d rather have him than Joe. 

Among Americans, those aged 18 to 44 are 36 per cent, and 45 to 64 are 25 per cent of the population.

Surely most of them would rather a president who is in touch with their lives, a person – man or woman – who grew up in their times, developed a career in their times, understood what mattered to them, and who shows the traits of a real leader – inspirational and responsible.

The tragedy is that Joe sustains the Donald. Empty slogans trump an empty shell.

If the Democrats have the imagination to replace Joe with an inspirational leader in his or her mid 40s to early 60s then the Republicans might scramble to unload their present choice and find a credible candidate.

Then not only Americans but we, too, can have hope, dreams and excitement for a better world.

Hugh Selby is the CityNews legal columnist.

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Hugh Selby

Hugh Selby

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2 Responses to For all our sakes, Joe, it’s time to go

cbrapsycho says: 11 July 2024 at 12:16 pm

Agree with Selby on this. Frustrating to watch the selfishness of Biden over his entire term, not promoting his deputy as someone worth considering. Instead, she was kept in the background. Was he afraid of her outshining him?

Certainly he has an overinflated view of his importance. He could be working to support her with his knowledge and expertise, whilst promoting her to be the front line in communication at which she is more effective than him.

President (and in fact all leaders) have a responsibility for careful succession planning, which is why they have Vice Presidents and why they develop their skills to enable them to fulfill the role when necesssary. Vice Presidents are not just there to be assistants to the President. Does Biden realise this? Or is he just another old white man who thinks women shouldn’t lead?


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