Why Ageism Is Somehow OK For Some Progressives: Reflecting On Bernie Sanders and Madonna

Ageism should never be okay. However, there are far too many real-life instances when Americans, even those with progressive leanings, concerning other issues we all face, are guilty of blatant ageist remarks and ideas.  Really, there is no reason for anyone to subscribe to age-based notions of competence, however, it’s especially puzzling when those individuals dedicated to equality and a fair society engage in this form of bias. Is it possible that, even with all the progress made toward bringing equal rights to other groups, that social justice crusaders somehow miss the very obvious fact that they’re engaging in a behavior that they claim to abhor?

Remember, progressive ideologies span the range of political leanings, from the liberal to progressive conservatives.  While each of these labels  fits a group using entirely different means of dealing with poverty and inequality, both sides have a strong distaste for anything that smacks of bias.  And so, ageism remains one of the last great frontiers nearly undisturbed in the landscape of progressivist ideology. Somehow, people who would never disparage another person based on their gender, race, sexual orientation, or nationality, find it quite easy to make cutting, derogatory remarks about others, simply based on age.

Many claim that Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both too “old” to be President of the United States.  These statements are made without reservation, with meager logic supporting this  flawed philosophy. It matters little whether you love Bernie or hate him, or you’re a registered Republican who would never even consider voting for a Democrat. Americans today are living longer than ever, and what we do at sixty is not what out grandparents did at that same age only  a few generations ago.  So what if Bernie Sanders would be an octogenarian if he were to win two consecutive four-year terms? Is our President a fitness model, or a paragon demonstrating, through the executive office, the American Way? If a person is still of sound mind, why should this age issue matter at all?

Peaceful Patriot Image Credit: Don Shall <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/donshall/3414353911/in/photolist-6cHssT-ri2SZL-gv9zGV-gv9AmR-NMPUHW-NMQ2f3-N1kdoW-U2MDUb-U6n9ec-TRsWej-GWFQQs-GWFFyS-ySWunh-zbodPF-z9wrCd-yT3R7a-ydFNii-ydwWyL-DsEuaF-2dMhLeo-D3GAGN-Dsvjh7-D3GAE3-D3GAJG-DuPfrT-DuPfeP-D3GBq1-CxiXTu-DsvjYY-D3GBhA-D3GBKu-Dkf62C-Dkf6L3-Dkf6gf-Dkf6ay-Dkf69S-CWjsvB-CWjsQe-CxqNpK-D3GAQo-DsvjLU-CWjsHa-CxqND2-Dsvjj1-CWjtfx-D3GAVd-D3GBEE-CxqNjz-CxiXVd-uKPWCA">CC</a> Vergennes, Vermont USA • Our frank & fiery United States Senator Bernie Sanders speaking at a campaign rally at the VFW Hall. Image Enhanced for AssertiveKids.Org
Bernie Sanders. Born in 1941
Image Credit: Don Shall

Conversely, should we automatically think that  a thirty-five year old presidential candidate is too “green”, too inexperienced and naive, compared with an alternative candidate pushing fifty? What does life experience matter? Why would it matter? For that matter, should the minimum age requirement of 35 years for a President Elect, as mandated in Our Constitution, be upheld? What about a US Armed Forces Veteran who served dutifully in combat, served his local community as Mayor, and now wishes to lead the nation into the future? Should they be automatically barred, solely because they’re 32? Rather than expanding on the ageism implicitly bound within our laws penned by our Founding Fathers, maybe we should go the other direction, and eliminate age requirements for the Office, altogether.

President Trump Image Credit: Gage Skidmore <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/31963023360/sizes/o/">CC</a>
President Trump. Also born in the ’40s.. Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

The brings us to another important issue today. Is Madonna “too old”? Too old for what, one might inquire.  Judging from Internet chatter, the issue would be whether she’s too old to be a Diva, a musical sensation…too old to gyrate and dance around the stage, too old to perform in “sexy” outfits.  From what I’ve read, Madonna was quite hurt by all this talk. Granted, she has a body more fit than many twenty year olds, and a face unchiseled by the ravages of time that defies logic, however, her birth certificate still states she was born in 1958. Clearly, she is pushing boundaries, shaking taboos off her still-youthful skin. Good for her. We need rebels and Strong Souls to challenge ridiculous notions.

Madonna by CoupiGloupi <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/choupigloupi/474653884/in/photolist-HWJ4E-jGDvA-jGDuz-58mYtz-ebsaB8-gHMDQ-6kNYVd-6rkCAH-5u3aZw-jGDvd-AEbvr-dnN557-5TVApf-jGDv4-5asV2j-6T1FBC-6rpMLw-ctakLL-jGDuL-581GeT-5TUDiC-d8mj4m-6b5Xbv-zFrEy-6rpMRU-WToJCe-5QtJNg-6SWCJV-6rpMMj-5TQiWx-sqgrnc-efw-67ToEi-7gr8en-6SWCU2-5TUDn9-6rpMPC-6rpMQJ-4PiwHQ-5Qy2cj-4Y82fr-6WzRir-6rkCuP-4S4y58-64QcKW-6SWCTe-5fdUTu-4Pegek-6T1FGm-6rpMP3">CC</a>
Madonna by CoupiGloupi CC

“Act your age!” scold so many younger men (and women), acting marmishly themselves, in such chiding. The musician Drake was disgusted by Madonna’s surprise kiss onstage at Coachella, not because Madonna was ugly or gross-looking, or because a surprise kiss is uncouth or outside of his boundaries, but rather because  he “…prefers younger women.” So, should  we remain youthful, should we also remember that life has a schedule and we should adhere to it? Do all people live according to some unpublished timetable? Let’s hope not.

As for her wardrobe, Madonna is a performer. Like all acts, her clothing is merely an extension of her stage persona. Musicians’ costumes have always been outrageous. Think back on Prince, Jimi Hendrix, and more recently Lady Gaga: Are their modes of dress, when onstage, utterly over the top? Sure. And, why not? Musicians are not here to conform to our ideas of comportment.  Rather, the artists and creatives among us are here to expressly push our collective boundaries, hopefully challenging us to examine our unconsciously held biases and aspects of our own lives that are stagnant and unfresh.

Is Madonna at risk of breaking a leg? Is her voice wavering, quivering  and weak? No way! Let’s say she were frail and weakly, and her voice the same. Should we then judge her for continuing to be the person she was born to be, still in the spotlight? These are all pertinent questions we should  ask ourselves. And, if the answer to any of this is that we should ossify at a certain numerical age, and even if we haven’t, force ourselves to restrict our self-expression, we should also consider that this is about as anti-American as could be, definitely not in keeping with  the Spirit of America, or our long-held, and always evolving, values.

Authored by D Alban

Copyright H Miller, D Alban


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