And they don't want to go away, either, which is beginning to frustrate younger Democrats:
A younger generation of Democrats is chafing at being asked to stand aside and let a triumvirate of elders keep their leadership positions in the wake of a catastrophic midterm election result.
Barring an unexpected shake-up, House Democrats next year will be led by a combination of Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Steny Hoyer (Md.) and James Clyburn (S.C.)
— lawmakers who are 70 or older and have served in Congress for decades.
There's a certain irony in this, since many people who lead the Democratic Party had their formative years in the 1960s, when youthful idealism drove people into politics, or so the narrative goes. I've long thought that narrative was crap, but we'll set that aside. The larger problem is this: the 60s are a long time ago. The New Frontier is now 50 years back in the rear view. In 1960, was anyone longing for the glory days of William Howard Taft? And the younger Democrats aren't getting much traction:
Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.), among others, were all seen as top contenders to move up but have found themselves in limbo as Pelosi locks down the minority-leader post and Hoyer and Clyburn vie for whip. Becerra is trying to hold on to the vice chairmanship of the caucus, while Van Hollen, the campaign chief appointed by Pelosi as assistant to the Speaker, is for now on the outside looking in. He is now seeking the top Democratic position on the House Budget Committee.
None of those lawmakers has complained publicly about being shut out, but other Democrats have warned that the party risks ignoring a message from voters if they keep the same leaders in place.
“We can’t let them sit on the bench for too much longer,” one Democratic aide said, referring to the party’s younger lawmakers. “There’s a push to add in some new ideas and new faces and new energy.”
While I'm skeptical that this younger generation of Democrats will bring new ideas to the table, there's little doubt that the continuing presence of Nancy Pelosi won't help branding efforts for the Democrats.
Of course, that's the problem the Democrats face. They aren't coming up with new ideas. They spent the last two years ramming through a governmental takover of health care, an item from Harry Truman's wish list. Their party can't get past Keynes and John Rawls.
The Republican Party has troubles of its own, but at least some of its younger members are getting places at the table. Who is the Democratic Party equivalent of Paul Ryan? It would behoove the Democrats to find one.