Emil Guillermo: Biden has an answer for sexism and racism, but can he beat back America’s ageism?
I hope President Joe Biden learned a trick or two from South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol this past week.
Yoon showed his cool appeal at the White House State Dinner by breaking into a version of “American Pie.”
It was the perfect opportunity for Biden to break into his BTS medley?
Or maybe Jay-Z: “I’ve got 99 problems and age ain’t one.”
And I confess as we come onto the month of May, I too am feeling chronologically “evolved.”
Just like our special month.
When I first heard about May being just for us, it was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and that’s after it was elongated from an Asian American week. (Too much diversity for seven days.)
Of course, I remember that. We’ve evolved just like the name of the month. We’ve gone from AA to APA to AAPI and now for maximum inclusion, let’s not forget the Native Hawaiians, which is why the Biden administration insists it’s “Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”
That’s Joe Biden for you.
His is the first administration to be that inclusive. It’s also the first administration with the highest ranking AANHPI woman ever, Vice President Kamala Harris.
The first Asian American, African American woman to be elected to the second highest post in the land, Harris is all about the diversity of the New America. That still has solid electoral appeal, no matter what mainstream pundits say. You’re not getting that from Republicans. But maybe we are seeing a new political stereotype emerge: the Indian American No. 2.
Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy want to be the GOP’s nominee, but are they realistically doing anything but auditioning to be Trump’s veep/fig leaf?
This week, Biden seems to be paying more than lip service to diversity. With the addition of the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez as his campaign manager, Biden kicks off his run for re-election by checking off all the boxes.
Let the cynics sneer. Biden’s all-inclusive, determined not to be defeated by racism or sexism.
But ageism? That’s another matter.
In recent polls, only one in four Americans wants an encore for Biden-Harris. Seventy percent overall say he shouldn’t run.
And the sentiment is coming from all directions. More than half of all Biden supporters from 2020 say he shouldn’t run. And these are people who like him.
Younger voters, those under 35 representing the future of our nation, are ready to put Biden to bed. Seventy-six percent of young voters say Biden shouldn’t run.
And when pollsters asked for a reason why he shouldn’t, poll respondents all mentioned the primary concern: Biden’s age.
Biden will be 82 when he starts a second term, and 86 when he leaves.
So how did America, herself 247 this year, become so ageist?
If you want experience and qualifications, Biden’s accomplishments in his first term are not insignificant. They make Biden more than just a transition president after the four wayward years of Trump. Biden is also the transition guy into America’s diverse political future.
Fortunately, most everything he’s done has been better than his predecessor, from COVID to smoothing over race relations. Biden was there with executive orders to defend Asian Americans after the scapegoating pandemic attacks on our community. Add his infrastructure package and the CHIPS Act to bring tech manufacturing back to America, and Biden just doesn’t get the credit for how good his first term has been.
Yes, there are still economic concerns over inflation and recession fears, but there are still more positives than naysayers will admit. One thing is constant: the right will talk about solutions helping corporations and the wealthy. Only Biden talks about helping real working-class Americans.
Maybe that’s why detractors bring up his age.
You expect it from Republicans. On the day Tucker Carlson was fired from Fox News, his replacement played old videos of Biden in various doddering gaffes. Not serious, mind you. But Biden is caught looking as silly as Mr. Magoo. In one clip, Biden spells the number eight, “e-i-g-h.” Ha ha? Fox must think this is a race for middle school student body president.
Still, compare any of that to the current Republican standard bearer, known for his bootlicking of Putin and love letters to Kim Jong Il. And need I mention the aforementioned non-mentioned is also the twice impeached, soon to be the twice indicted former president?
I think America still would prefer a president with zero criminal indictments.
But that doesn’t help the GOP, so Fox’s debate tactic is to make fun of old people like Biden. It’s a strange and alienating ad hominem style, and I hope all voters 65 and over take note.
Don’t let the ageists marginalize Biden because of his birthday. If they can do it to the president, what can be done to me or you?
Is it fair to be discriminated just because of your time on earth?
What surprises me is the number of Democrats who tell pollsters they too want someone else younger.
And yet who among the younger Democrats has had the guts to come forward to challenge Biden?
So we have Joe. And Kamala.
In a second term with age a key issue, expect Harris, as the all-important No. 2, to be tested and targeted for her readiness.
And watch the GOP deploy the three-headed monster of divisive attacks–racism, sexism, and ageism.
Thirty years ago, I was naive to think that ageism might someday bring us together and end all our divisive issues. I figured we’d all just be staring at each other, nodding in agreement as we get older.
After all, we’d have something in common that cuts across race, gender, and class. Enough so that we might be able to acknowledge our humanity.
But it hasn’t happened that way, and already some of us have found that ageism is just as bad and discriminatory as the worse racism and sexism we could ever experience.
We already can see how victories of the past, such as voting rights and abortion rights, are being challenged and reversed.
It means the 2024 campaign could decide the direction of America for the next four to five decades. If that happens, it could be, as they say, one for the ages.
It shouldn’t be one for the ageists.
NOTE: I will talk about this column and other matters on “Emil Amok’s Takeout,” my AAPI micro-talk show. Live @2p Pacific. Livestream on Facebook; my YouTube channel; and Twitter. Catch the recordings on www.amok.com.
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.