by Daryl Slusher
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick leaped into national headlines this week by volunteering to die for the economy. Patrick told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson: “Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And, if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.” Patrick added, “You know what, if I get sick, I’ll go and try to get better. But if I don’t, I don’t.”
One problem with this is that Patrick volunteered other older Americans as well. Patrick evidently wrangled a reappearance on the show with a text he sent Carlson. Among the lines from the text that Carlson read on the air: “I don’t pretend to be speaking for everyone 70-plus (Patrick said he turns 70 next week), but I think there are lots of grandparents out there who would agree with me that I want my grandchildren to live in the America I did. I want them to have a shot at the American dream. ” Hold on there, Dan. That’s taking representative government just a bit too far.
His solution, also from the text: “I say let’s give this a few more days or weeks, but after that, let’s go back to work and go back to living. Those who want to shelter in place can still do so but we can’t live with this uncertainty,”
There are a number of problems with this, including that if the country takes Patrick’s approach a lot more people will die than would otherwise, and not just in his target group of 70 and over. But, in our space here let’s examine just how noble Patrick is actually being.
Patrick is not only a top state official, but also a wealthy guy. So he has access to better health care than many Texans — especially better than the million plus Texans who could benefit from Medicaid expansion that he, Governor Greg Abbot, former Governor Rick Perry, and other Republicans have blocked for over a decade now.
With his wealth and high ranking status, Patrick can count on the best medical treatment. He has to know that if he got corona virus and had to go in the hospital, it would be a medical priority to save his life. So here’s an idea. If Patrick is really serious he should do a certified “Do Not Ventilate” order — for himself only. That might sound harsh, but it’s consistent with what he told Tucker Carlson. And, Dan, whether you do that or not, stop going around volunteering other people to die.
Now, let’s pause briefly for some political analysis and speculation. Patrick’s vow that he is willing to die comes as President Donald Trump announced, “I would love to see the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” with people “back at work” and “packed churches all over our country.” Call me crazy, but I think Trump’s hope here is to blame Democrats for the collapse of the economy because they insisted on social distancing while at the same time blaming them for preventing people from packing churches on Easter Sunday. Will it work? Who knows, probably not, but we have to keep in mind that this is the same country that elected Donald Trump.
So Patrick is just falling in line behind Trump in a particularly creative fashion that generates headlines for himself while allowing him to suck up to Trump at the same time.
Patrick not alone in being ready for older people to die
Meanwhile, speaking of people that are volunteering others to die, some younger Americans invented a new term for the corona virus, “Boomer Remover.” That of course refers to Baby Boomers, who are those born between 1946 and 1964. I have a few things to say about that. First, as a Boomer (1953), I’ll acknowledge the term is sort of funny, albeit in a morbid kind of way.
Second, younger generations have a right to be angry about the world that Boomers and Boomers’ elders are handing off to them. Let’s see: there’s climate change; the 40-year plus transfer of wealth from everybody else to the very rich; and a scarcity of good-paying jobs, with Boomers hanging on to a lot of those.
So, yes, younger folks I acknowledge you have some very sound reasons to be upset. But, trigger warning:
Young folks share responsibilty in the collapse of America too. I am not referring to just the current situation and the tens of thousands of young people who ignored all warnings and flocked to the beaches and bars of Florida last week. Those are the same ones now returning home with the danger of infecting family, friends and anyone else who comes within six feet of them. No, I’m talking about voting, or rather not voting.
Here’s what I mean. Baby Boomers are a very divided generation politically and that has been going on since the 1960s. We range from the radical left to the neanderthal right, with most of us somewhere in between. In national, two party, elections the divide tends to break pretty evenly. So sometimes we need others to vote and help break the deadlock. People older than Boomers tend to tilt more conservative or Republican than Boomers. Young people, however, overall tilt more progressive and Democratic.
For instance way back in the year 2000 each major party nominated a Boomer for president. The Republicans put forth George W. Bush and the Democrats Al Gore. Those were two very different men with very different beliefs, policies, and approaches to governing. So who turned out in the lowest percentages in 2000? That’s right, young people. Bush still lost the popular vote, but he won the Electoral College and the presidency after the Supreme Court shut down the recount in Florida.
Bush then started a war under false pretenses. A lot of young people died in that war and a lot more were damaged. And, it destabilized the already unstable Middle East. Bush also refused to acknowledge climate change, or do anything about it. And, then he presided over the collapse of the economy.
By the way I know that people who were young, but old enough to vote in 2000 are now in their late ’30s or even mid-40s. Since I’m a Boomer I was even able to do the math in my head. Your age group though still votes at lower percentages than generations older than you. Check out the graph below, from the United States Elections Project. Turnout goes up and down in each age category for various elections, but the younger the age group the lower the turnout — every time.
This was even the case in 2008 where youth turned out more than usual to help get Barack Obama elected. But, then came the 2010 midterms which just didn’t have the excitement and glamour of presidential elections. So turnout dropped in all age groups, but it dropped the most among youth — from almost 50% in 2008 to 20% in 2010. The Republicans took the House and that strengthened their strategy of blocking everything Obama wanted to do. He got some stuff done anyway, but there’s so much more he could have done to transform the country if he would have had a Democratic Congress.
Then came 2016 with two more Boomers as the nominees; Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Once again youth had the lowest turnout. And, once again the Republican squeaked by in the Electoral College. It was obvious during the election that Trump was going to be way worse than Bush and now everybody, including the young, get to live with it. The young just get to live with it longer.
Then there’s this year and the Bernie Sanders campaign. The media and others marveled at how an elderly candidate like Bernie excited the youth and how young people turned out in huge numbers for his rallies. Bernie repeatedly argued that he should be the nominee because young people would turn out to vote in massive waves in November, more than they ever had before. There was a big problem though. A lot of those young people did not even vote when Bernie was on the Democratic primary ballot in their states. Young backers of Bernie who didn’t vote, you let Bernie down.
So sorry young folks about the mess y’all are inheriting. But, it didn’t have to be like that. At worst, it wouldn’t be near as bad if more of y’all voted. What about joining Boomers at the polls in November?
This story was updated to reflect the fact that the actual term is “Boomer Remover,” rather than “Boomer Removal.” At this point I deserve an “OK, Boomer.”
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