Do Any Non-Medicare Recipients Want the Democratic Presidential Nomination?

Why is hardly anyone under the age of 64 getting any consideration for the Democratic ticket in 2016?

Jerry Brown, aged 75, is getting some attention as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, joining Elizabeth Warren (age 64), Hillary Clinton (age 66) and Joe Biden (age 71). Other than Martin O’Malley (A comparatively sprightly young talent at age 50), who got some love in Washington Monthly, there has been a strange lack of discussion of possible Democratic contenders who would not receive a social security check at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if they won the election.

The baby boom was a big generation, so it’s understandable that it would produce many candidates. But for a party which draws its strength disproportionately from younger voters, it’s odd that virtually no one born after the Korean War is getting any serious attention for the 2016 Democratic ticket.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

37 thoughts on “Do Any Non-Medicare Recipients Want the Democratic Presidential Nomination?”

  1. One could imagine Jay Nixon (57) running, but he doesn’t generate buzz because there aren’t national reporters in Missouri.

    Mostly, it’s just the luck of who’s viable and vaguely interested. I keep being surprised there’s no clear Southern Republican. But strange things happen with small sample sizes.

    The wipeout of governors in 2010 didn’t help.

  2. Obama is a counter-example. This is more about personalities - in particular, Clinton. She has such a perceived edge that we’re not seeing the usual crop of younger candidates testing the waters. I suspect that things will be different if she doesn’t run.

      1. The election is still three years away. She could easily be running now, but change her plans sometime before 2016. Aging, health issues, family, or just plain deciding that she’s tired of public service and doesn’t feel like subjecting herself to the rigors of another campaign.

    1. Also, Obama didn’t get much attention at this stage. There wasn’t much noise about him running until about 2 years out, he formed the ‘exploratory committee’ in Jan 07, and announced in February 07.
      Also: it’s 3 years away. First primary isn’t for almost 2 years. People aren’t talking about it because there is nothing to talk about. And a 78 year old Jerry Brown is not going to run.

      1. I agree but also, there’s no Obama without George W. Bush. I don’t think he could have been nominated except in a year where it was taken for granted that winning the Democratic nomination was tantamount to winning the presidency.

        1. And what year was that again? I supported Obama, but McCain could have won had he chosen someone other than Palin.

          1. I think that’s very far-fetched. Obviously you can’t prove this either way, but I don’t think McCain could have won in 2008 no matter what he did. Vice Presidential picks don’t seem to have much effect on election outcomes, except sometimes when the VP candidate can help deliver his or her own state, which otherwise might go the other way, as in 1960. I doubt McCain was going to lose Alaska anyway, so Palin wouldn’t have helped, but I don’t think she hurt that much except in the opinions of voters who were going to vote for Obama anyway.

          2. Vice Presidential picks don’t seem to have much effect on election outcome

            There is a large political science literature on this, and I believe it generally backs Herschel’s view.

    1. I thought of Cuomo as a counter-example after I posted. He did seem to get some attention maybe a year ago; not sure if he still is.

      1. Cuomo got the message. He likes his kneecaps, he likes being governor and he’s willing to do whatever is necessary so that Christie will allow him to continue to enjoy those things.

    1. You’re right, apart from the years living in imperial splendor in huge palaces with a staff of hundreds waiting upon you hand and foot, being treated by your retinue as almost a living god, and traveling in a style that not even the most powerful crowned heads of Europe or Rome could have imagined, followed (unless you are Jimmy Carter) by being showered with immense wealth so that you and your family will live like kings for a hundred years, it’s a terrible, thankless job with little to recommend it.

      1. My guess is that any of the top contenders could achieve all of these benefits without the hassle of either campaigning or actually being president if that was what motivated them.

        1. George W Bush would always have been wealthy to the end of his days (as is the clear message of daddy’s friends staking him a business and the bailing him out three times) and would probably get some of those other perks - but without the Presidency, he’d be completely forgotten fifty years from now, and that’s even assuming his governorship (without which he wouldn’t have been known to later become forgotten). For better or worse (and I know which side I’m on) George W Bush won’t soon be forgotten; Jeb will be. Even a 33 day nonentity like William Henry Harrison is remembered, neatly two hundred years later. This is a not-inconsiderable incentive.

          1. @Warren Terra: Actually, William Henry Harrison isn’t really accurately remembered — did you know there are stupid bloggers who can’t even get his home state right? : )

          2. “William Henry Harrison is remembered precisely for being a nonentity.”

            That may be so, grasshopper, but for sheer non-entitihood it’s hard to beat Millard Fillmore . . .

        2. I don’t see now that would possibly be true of any of the contenders except for Clinton, who gained her entrée to that world courtesy of her marriage to Bill. Of the others mentioned here, the one with the best economic prospects is probably Booker, who clearly intends to prostitute himself to Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce at every opportunit and to take with both hands. But you can’t be seriously suggesting that they would pay a senator enough so that he could enjoy actual palaces, private helicopters and a private 747 jet, hundreds of servants and a lifestyle that would make a billionaire or non-petro state monarch envious?

          None of these people can make that kind of money without first being president. Look at all the sellout former senators and government officials of the past two decades. Yes, they make big money. Don’t get me wrong, even $10 or $20 million is life changing money and Robert Rubin’s $100 is beyond most peoples’ wildest dreams but nowhere near enough for the palaces and servants, let alone all the other goodies that come with the presidency.

          1. By that definition, I don’t think the Presidency is enough for most of them. I’d be very surprised if that would make the difference in amassing hundreds of millions of dollars, which is what you must mean if Rubin doesn’t count. So your original argument still fails.

            Name me a former president who reached that status because they were president. Nixon didn’t. Ford didn’t. Carter didn’t. Reagan didn’t. Clinton hasn’t.

  3. Well, Cory Booker is young. Although he won’t run until 2020, at earliest. Probably as a Republican.

  4. I don’t see why we need a non-medicare recipient to distract us from how vibrant and innovative Elizabeth Warren is 🙂
    -I’m pushing 40

    1. Now it’s nineteen eighty four…
      Knock knock on your front door…
      It’s the Suede-Denim Secret Police!
      They have come for your uncool niece!

      That song just makes me giggle. It also introduced me to Jerry Brown, who I originally imagined as some sort of authoritarian…

  5. Other than Booker, all of the alternatives mentioned so far are still “second wave” boomers, so we’re not out of the boomer cohort yet. I suspect that the Dems will keep nominating boomers until some of the Millennial cohort have enough experience to be viable candidates. Maybe there are some potential Dem GenX’ers out there, but if so (other than Booker) they’re staying pretty invisible so far.

    1. I made that very prediction about six months ago - like the Silent Generation, Generation X will have no presidents. Just too small in comparison to the boomers and millenials.

  6. This is correct. Dems will need someone young to take the edge away from guys like Paul and Christie. Duomo is a moron who is married to Sandra Lee.

    1. If you want to abuse Andrew Cuomo, please use reality-based terms like “thug” or “plutocratic lickspittle.” “Moron” is an epithet that simply has no factual basis when applied to Andrew Cuomo.

  7. So much of politics today is about celebrity, and it’s impossible to guess who will be made a celebrity between now and, what, early 2015, or why. As with Obama, timing is crucial for anyone who gets to surf the celebrity wave. The geriatrics you pointed to are celebrities now mostly because they’ve always been celebrities, just like McCain, Gingrich, and the rest of the Sunday morning republican regulars who most actual voters don’t really pay attention to anymore- on-air reporters, or producers, recognize their names and know how to get their faces in front of a camera so they become perpetual celebrities.

    Ryan and Rand Paul show signs of moving far enough toward that kind of celebrity, as opposed to viable presidential-level candidate status, that if they’re serious about running they need to do what Hillary Clinton did and stay away from the media for a while and concentrate on developing their cred. Until he mouthed off about the borrowing limit it looked like that’s what Ryan was up to. But who knows what Democrats are really out there?

  8. Hillary is a huge front runner. As long as other candidates think she is likely to win, they are unlikely to run.

  9. Are we fresh out of second and third-generation Kennedys? There’s also the generation-skipping effect: if you get a cohort that is particularly successful in some way at a relatively early age, they tend to squeeze out the cohort(s) immediately following them. Think about the post-ww2 generation of bright young men, for example. They dominated the discourse well into the 80s.

    1. You know, we really shouldn’t have an aristocracy in this country. One of the better arguments against Hillary Rodham Clinton and in favor of Obama in 2008 was that we needed to break this Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton hammerlock.

      The Kennedys had too much power for too long, and plenty of them abused it in various ways. Even the only one of them who amassed a particularly impressive record as a public servant, Ted, also got away with vehicular manslaughter and had severe acohol problems, and acted like an entitled jerk in many ways. And the rest of them had many of the same vices without Ted’s policy virtues.

      I’m glad the Kennedys are basically gone from public life. I had enough of them.

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