Why is it difficult for Washington to have new-generation leaders?


The upcoming 2024 US presidential election is poised for a potential rematch between former president Donald Trump and the incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden, both representing the older generation of American politicians. Joe Biden, at 81, holds the title of the oldest president in US history, while Trump, at 77, vows to “take back” the country. Despite polls indicating that majorities in the US do not want Biden and Trump to run again, they continue to dominate the political landscape. This raises questions about why young politicians of the new generation have not assumed prominent roles in both parties.

Historically, the Democratic Party had a tradition of introducing young political elites to the White House after World War II. Presidents like John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all ascended to the presidency in their 40s. However, recent elections have seen a decline in influential young political forces within the Democratic Party. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss to Trump dealt a blow to the party’s confidence, and in 2020, Biden became the nominee, largely due to his qualifications and experience rather than the emergence of young political forces.

While some young competitors within the Republican Party surfaced in the 2016 and 2024 elections, they failed to rival Trump’s influence. Figures like senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were considered “not populist enough,” and potential candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy lacked experience. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, suppressed by Trump, hesitated to break with him. Established figures like former vice president Mike Pence and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, adopting an “anti-Trump” stance, faced slim chances of success. Even Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, struggles to counter Trump’s influence.

The decline of young politicians in recent elections is attributed to the polarization of American politics and the primary system’s design. The fierce battles and public opinion manipulation between the two parties have eroded the base voters’ trust, with each side viewing the other as an enemy. This environment necessitates candidates with significant influence and symbolism, making age less relevant for Biden and Trump, who are current and former presidents.

On a broader political level, the struggle for power transition between the old and new generations is a constant theme. Every election sees young individuals elected to Congress, governors, and state legislatures. The generational shift in the American population, with over 60 percent belonging to Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z combined, is driving this transition. This diverse and racially varied new generation favors the Democratic Party, forcing the Republican Party to appeal to a broader demographic.

The current world faces unprecedented changes, and the US, as the sole superpower, plays a pivotal role. Both Biden and Trump, born around the end of World War II, harbor anxieties and share a common ground of adhering to Cold War thinking and upholding American hegemony. The world awaits the emergence of a new generation of American politicians, and the 2024 election may reveal whether they will perpetuate conservative Cold War thinking or embody rational and pragmatic figures like California Governor Gavin Newsom or individuals from the business world like Elon Musk.

The choice made in the 2024 US presidential election will have profound implications for global conflicts, the trajectory of US policies, and the world’s overall stability. Whether the torch passed to future generations illuminates a path forward or ignites a powder keg in the world depends on this crucial decision. The world watches as the US, as the sole superpower, navigates through escalating conflicts, great power competition, and the challenges of the current geopolitical landscape.


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