Gen Y: Age matters in Election 2016

LIN) — Flash back to that time in your youth when your mom or dad tried to use words like “cool” or “the bomb,” or whatever the slang was at the time.

Or that time when an aunt, uncle or grandparent did a dance in front of your best friends.

Embarrassing, right?

Sometimes, older generations just don’t connect with their younger counterparts, and it’s not because they aren’t trying. They just don’t get it.

As you grow older, you learn to laugh a lot of things off, and understand intentions (yes, even bad family dancing) more. But in some ways, factors like age are something that will always be a lingering issue.

The next presidential election is a great example.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to make her exit after four years as America’s top diplomat, social media and news organizations are all a buzz about her possible 2016 presidential run.

A Twitter account, @ReadyForHillary, is rapidly gaining traction, boasting more than 51,000 followers in just two months. And just last week, a team of President Barack Obama’s donors raised $250,000 to give to Clinton as a parting gift – the amount of debt left from her 2008 presidential campaign.

But in 2016, Clinton will be 69 years old, putting her at 73 years old at the end of her first term, if elected. If you want to play the “age is just a number” card here, keep in mind she’s spent four years as secretary of state, one of the most stressful jobs in the cabinet. Before that, she served two terms as U.S. Senator and first lady for eight years. She’s had a long run.

And then there are the Vice President Joe Biden rumors. While some argue he will have right of first refusal for the Democratic ticket in 2016, he still hasn’t given any indication of his plans to run, or not run.

Biden’s no stranger to running for president, having unsuccessful runs in both 1998 and 2008. If he were elected, he would be 74 on Inauguration Day 2017, which would make him the oldest president ever elected and inaugurated.

On the other side of the fence, the GOP is still struggling to find its image. After years of cookie-cutter candidates, the tired, older, male presidential nominee will just add more noise to what will be an already exciting 2016.

What both sides need is a young face – someone who can relate to the fastest-growing workforce population in America. While it’s arguable that a 30-something may not have the experience to be Commander in Chief, having a president who grew up with the Internet and has a kaleidoscope of friends from all walks of life wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Sure, he or she would have to have a strong cabinet and set of advisers that could guide the presidency, but that is the case with everyone who’s ever held the position.

At a time when our economy, industrial health and future warfare depend on our country’s success in the digital age, wouldn’t you feel a little more comfortable hearing someone who has lived more of his or her life with the Internet than, say, Joe Biden?

President Obama was 47 when he took office, and it’s easy to see what four years in the Oval Office can do to a “young” president. But the Democratic Party knew when they stood behind him in 2008 that he was a face of change.

In 2016, both the Dems and the GOP need to continue to bring diversity to the ballot. Younger candidates like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. Joaqu n Castro, D-Texas, come to mind as rising stars of their parties.

Sure, their resumes may be lacking in some areas, but they can make up for it in office when they can appeal to an increasingly younger population.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, colors and ages. Let’s not be too close-minded in thinking that the older you are, the more qualified you will be.

Gen Y is a weekly opinion piece covering issues that matter most to young, influential Americans through their late 30s. Jessica O. Swink, a 20-something, is the digital political producer for LIN Media and contributing editor to onPolitix.

Copyright 2014 LIN TV News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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