1. Opinion

Is it time for boomers to get off the stage?

When aging rock stars are still performing and the average age of a Senator is 62, this really is the question.
The Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger performs Friday in Havana, Cuba. [Associated Press]
The Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger performs Friday in Havana, Cuba. [Associated Press]
Published Jan. 13

Welcome to a series where a baby boomer and a millennial debate the issues that matter to you.

On being a millennial and seeing few politicians who look like you

A viral photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quite literally standing up to President Donald Trump in a meeting perfectly illustrated a point that us young people have known for quite some time.

Many of this country’s most important decisions are being made by rooms full of white — and white-haired — men.

In this photo released by the White House, President Donald Trump, center right, meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, standing left, Congressional leadership and others, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. [SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD | AP]

In fact, the officials elected to represent us have only gotten older as time goes on. In 1981, the average age of a U.S. representative was 49 and of a U.S. senator was 53. Almost 40 years later, in an era that is supposedly more progressive, the average age of members of 2018′s Congress went up to almost 58 in the House and 62 in the Senate.

Let’s put that in perspective: At 61, the average retirement age in the United States is one year younger than the average age of a senator in 2018. That’s depressing.

Locally, it’s exciting that we’ll have a younger voice on St. Petersburg’s City Council this year. But it’s disheartening that Robert Blackmon is now the youngest person to serve on the local governing body — ever. He’s 30.

There’s a reason why we need young people in power, whether it’s in politics, on our screens or on our stages. Young people understand how power dynamics and big issues are shifting because we are on the front lines of those very issues.

And hopefully someday soon, we also will be on the front lines of the board rooms and chambers where the decisions on these issues get made.

-Elizabeth Djinis, editorial writer

On watching boomers continue to perform

In the movie Almost Famous, an agent trying to sign up a hot rock band on the rise warns the young musicians that their moment will not last: “If you think Mick Jagger will be out there trying to be a rock star at age 50, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.”

Our cover of tbt* Weekend magazine reminded me of that line. We featured seven music stars coming for shows in Tampa Bay. Their average age is 60; four of them are 70 or older.

TBT*'s Weekend magazine cover

No wonder the millennials grow impatient with us boomers. We will just not get out of the way. In business, the professions, politics and popular culture, we hang on in ways that would have been unthinkable for our parents’ generation.

When I was 25, Elton John and Billy Joel were already huge stars. Four decades later, they still fill Amalie Arena. My older daughter came with me to see Eric Clapton; my younger daughter got me to take her to one of Cher’s previous farewell tours. That would have been like me going with my parents to see Guy Lombardo or the Andrews Sisters. Not a chance.

So, to my young friends, I can only counsel patience. Your turn is coming. Mick Jagger is 76, and time eventually will deliver your satisfaction. Meanwhile, that Billie Eilish has some really snappy tunes.

-Paul Tash, Times chairman and CEO


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