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Douglas Lukes: People in their 80s still lead politics

Almost two years before the election, Angus King announced his intention to run for another six years in the U.S. Senate in 2024.

Yes, it’s unusual for even an informal announcement to be made this early, but one former president continues to push the process forward. Even if the King has doubts, he has plenty of time to change his mind.

Senator Susan Collins and Senator Angus King Brianna Soukup and Gregory Rec/Staff Photographers

I don’t think he will. After returning to politics in 2002 after serving two terms as governor for the first time in a decade, a lot has changed, even though he had promised to serve two terms in the Senate. rice field.

Susan Collins also ironically promised when she was first elected in 1996 that she would only serve two terms, an election that the U.S. Supreme Court did not overrule them.

Collins has been re-elected three more times and is still relatively young at 69, and no one expects her to retire when her current term expires in 2026. Then record fifth term.

Not so with King. His original intention was based on the idea that when he turned 80, it would be time to return to Brunswick.

And now, at 78, he’s still in good physical and mental health, and is said to be enjoying the Senate as part of the majority getting things done. Although he has always been elected as an independent, in Washington, King is functionally a Democrat, much like Bernie Sanders.

Speaking to people close to King, including those who are reserving a third term, it is clear that he sees this as a historic moment, people who love their country and fully understand its traditions. is in need of a revival.

King’s speeches during the two Trump impeachment trials, as well as after January 6, are remarkable for their sense of history, and their understated eloquence to urge not just one person, but an entire political party’s commitment to constitutional norms. He made it clear that he lacked firm commitment.

He believes that those who experienced blockages, impasses, and then attempted riots could be essential to creating a post-January 6th consensus.

Vermont’s Patrick Leahy was first elected to the U.S. Senate in the 1974 post-Watergate election at the age of 34. Reaching his eighth term in 2016, he cited the fact that retired Democrats made a hole for Republicans when they won the Senate majority in 2014.

This was not plausible. In this once-Republican state, almost any Democratic candidate could win an election, and lone Congressman Peter Welch waited another six years before he got his chance. He will become a rookie senator in January at age 75 after serving eight terms in the House.

Only time will tell if Bernie Sanders, 81, will follow in Leahy’s footsteps in retirement, or whether he will run for a fourth term in the Senate after serving eight terms in the House. Vermont has even fewer opportunities to become a senator than Maine.

We have reached a point where age is a less important factor for candidates, and seemingly for voters, than it once was. Margaret Chase Smith lost her seat in the Senate in 1972. Bill Hathaway caused a shocking stir when her age (74 years old) was considered a major factor.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa was just reelected at age 88. California’s Diane Feinstein, who is 84 and has run for re-election in 2018, is still tight-lipped about her plans for 2024.

And, most importantly, the current frontrunners for president will be 82 and 78, respectively.

There’s more to ’80 is the new 70′ than, as some baby boomers say. We are talking about pre-boomers.

The drafters of the constitution rejected term limits, but hoped for a “rotation of public office”, that is, the gradual replacement of public officials elected either by voluntary retirement or by losing an election.

Those who are elected to power are not exempt from Lord Acton’s doctrine that “power tends to corrupt”. So far, the second part “absolute power corrupts absolutely” has been avoided.

Americans have seen the consequences of absolute power in big countries like Russia and China, and in countless smaller ones. So far, we have turned back from the brink of unrestricted relinquishment of power.

Without a doubt, Senator King will be a strong candidate for re-election. In 2018, he won a clear majority, avoiding the run-off vote for ranked options.

Still, no one is irreplaceable, and at some point a new generation will emerge. Let’s hope they aren’t in their 70s yet.

Douglas Rooks is a Maine editor, commentator and reporter since 1984, author of three books, and currently researching the life and career of the Chief Justice of the United States.he welcomes comments [email protected]

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