My coffee group in D.C. meets every morning to debate the political outrages from the previous day. In this age of Trump and the Russians we have lots to talk about.
We also found ourselves talking about why members of Congress and other aging politicians refuse to retire, usually having to be carried off center stage kicking and screaming instead of gracefully making way for the next generation of leaders. There are currently five members of the Senate over 80 and 18 over 70. Recently Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, presidential candidate and DNC chair said, “Old people like Bernie Sanders should get out of politics for 2020.” He called for a new generation of leaders.
My coffee group couldn’t agree more so we tossed around ideas about what these aging politicians could do considering so many of them have oversized egos that apparently lead them to conclude they are indispensable. So as not to be accused of ageism full disclosure requires I report many in the coffee group are themselves aging politicians and over 70.
We came up with the concept of a Century Village condominium for aging politicians. Here they could continue to run for office only now it would be for positions on the condo board. Anyone currently serving on a condo board would agree there are enough issues there for robust debate and in some instances could even be considered appropriate penance for what they did to the country. They could challenge each other for leadership positions and control of their surroundings including everything from the golf course to the gym; the beauty parlor to entertainment choices; to running the pharmacy or deciding on how to decorate the lobby. Instead of the age requirement for admission being 55 as it is in the Century Villages in Florida here it could be 70.
Century Villages in Florida are gated communities with round-the-clock security. Having a gated community for aging politicians could protect them from us and us from them and in addition could eliminate taxpayer-funded Secret Service and congressional protection service requirements some of the would-be residents now enjoy. There are convenient buses providing transportation to local shopping, restaurants and medical facilities. They do have on-site medical buildings along with a pharmacy. Just think of all the fun debates Bernie Sanders, Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch could have over how they should be run.
Think about Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and John McCain all moving in and mounting campaigns for president of the condo association. Bill Clinton wouldn’t enter the race as he already was a president. But he would ask each candidate for a commitment to let him use the ballroom for an annual Clinton Foundation benefit.
There would be a board big enough to provide for leadership positions for many of the residents and then dozens of committees they could seek to chair. Sanders’s platform would include a promise his wife would chair the Education Committee because of her experience running a college (didn’t she bankrupt one?). Biden said his wife would run that committee if he won because she wasn’t actually facing possible indictment and had extensive real teaching experience. John McCain’s platform initially listed his other six residences but was reminded he actually had seven but then his wife paid for most of them so he was excused for not knowing that. Romney again reminded people about his ‘Binders of Women’ and promised he would use them to name committee chairs. Hillary’s platform was the most extensive having detailed plans for each committee and a 20-year budget proposal. Some of the other candidates felt that was overdoing things as they most likely wouldn’t be around then and who really cared about the next generation of owners. She had the support of another owner, Nancy Pelosi. Nancy felt that it was time for a woman president after having been the highest-ranking woman politician in American history and being elected to that position for the second time in January 2019. She believed she knew what the people wanted. She also reminded people of the ‘me too’ movement and said they didn’t want to face the issue of possibly needing to impeach a president shortly after his election. She reminded people Biden was known to be a hugger and then there was Anita Hill; and Sanders, when he was in his early 30s, had written those weird pieces on what he thought women think about during sex.
We imagined Donald Trump hearing about this new condo and putting in a bid to buy the penthouse. Of course the timing of his move-in would necessarily depend on Robert Mueller and whether he indicts him or whether Congress tried to impeach him. But we could envision a scenario in which he is indicted and then cuts a deal to wear an ankle bracelet and serve time under house arrest living in splendor in the gold gilded penthouse. Trump may have to get around the prohibition of young children living permanently in the community. But like he was he could send his young son to military boarding school or even have him live with Ivanka and Jared if they aren’t in jail. But that could be negotiated with the condo board.
I can imagine some of the deals and negotiation involved to gain someone’s support for their candidacy. Trump could demand Sanders release his tax returns if he wants his vote or instead cut a deal that would have Melania chair the decorating committee. She could then hire former Congressman Aaron Schrock, if he isn’t in jail, based on his experience decorating his congressional office like Downton Abbey. Melania, however, might ask for more of a Versailles motif.
Trump would also likely ask if his young friend Vladimir Putin could reserve an apartment for when he turns 70. This would, of course, generate a debate as to whether you had to be an American citizen, born here, and have to prove it with your birth certificate to be allowed to buy into the building. The board could decide that birth certificates were required of all potential residents. Bernie Sanders sided with Trump on the Putin issue and no one was quite sure why but he also advocated for allowing Jill Stein who will be 70 by 2020 to make a reservation for a condo. Guess he thought they would make interesting dinner companions. He based his request for Stein on the agreement the board had with Elizabeth Warren, who is now a sprightly 68, allowing her to make a reservation for a unit. Part of her purchase contract was she would be guaranteed to be chair or vice-chair of the consumer affairs committee. Sanders said because of that he wanted Stein’s purchase agreement to include she could chair the recycling committee.
The more we tossed around this idea the more we realized it would make a great reality TV show. We imagined board meetings and the annual condo association meeting would make for great television. The show would get a new influx of characters, and they would be characters, with each new aging politician who moved in. To add interest and keep it current every once in a while one of the next generation of leaders, be they a president or member of Congress, would ask one of the aging politicians, hopefully one who still had all their faculties, to serve in either the cabinet or just come out on the campaign trail for nostalgia’s sake. That person would be the envy of the entire community and naturally be savaged by all the residents until they moved home again.
Maybe Marriott or some other corporation that builds senior communities will like this idea and get moving on it. It was the opinion of some of the millennials in our coffee group it can’t happen soon enough while the aging politicians in the group reminded them experience and wisdom shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.