Discover more from Men Yell at Me
Dingus of the Week: Gerontocracy
Maybe we could have some term limits? As a treat?
This is the weekly dingus, the cult classic newsletter1, where I make jokes about someone or something in our news or culture that’s making life just a little bit worse. Then, I link to some good things and recommend a drink. More and more people are saying, “Lyz, when will you stop doing this? Isn’t three years of dinguses enough? When will you grow up?”
To which I respond like a 90-year-old Senator when asked when they will retire, and say, “Never, you whippersnappers.”
Never miss a dingus by becoming a subscriber, you whippersnappers.
While the polar ice caps are melting, Mitch McConnell is freezing up. This week, Senator Mitch McConnell froze during a press conference. This is the second time this year that McConnell has had a moment where he seems to publicly short circuit.
If you rule out the most plausible theory, which is that McConnell is a robot sent by a superhuman race of sentient beings from another planet. At first, this sentient race of superhuman beings planned to infiltrate our system of governance with a robotic avatar of a man Americans really like to vote for — chinless and white — in order to place him in power and then control us from the inside out. But once they saw what a mess we’ve made of this country, they were like NOPE. We don’t want that. Then, they kind of abandoned McConnell Mars Rover style, so he’s just wandering about America while his flesh falls off his robot frame.
If you rule that theory out, and I’m not sure we can entirely, then the second most plausible theory is that McConnell is not doing well and needs to retire.
America has a gerontocracy problem.
While there is no federal mandatory retirement age in America, air traffic controllers are required to retire at 56. Airline pilots at 60. In Florida, 70 is the retirement age for Supreme Court Justices. And no judge in Michigan can run for election after the age of 70. There is a minimum age limit for a lot of things. Americans can’t run for Congress before the age of 25, can’t run for Senate before the age of 30, and can’t run for the presidency before the age of 35, but there seems to be no limit to how long someone can hold onto power.
The average age of Americans is 38.8 years old, but the average age of House lawmakers is 57.9 and the median age for Senators is 65.3. Chuck Grassley is 89 years old. Dianne Feinstein is 90. Bernie Sanders is 81. Of the 435 current House lawmakers, 15 are 80 or older. Joe Biden is 80. Donald Trump is 77.
I don’t want to debate mental fitness. I think those standards can be used in ways that are both ageist, sexist, and ableist.2
The reality is, that at its heart, the true problem with gerontocracy is that the people in power remember an America that simply no longer exists. Homes are no longer affordable. You can’t work a minimum-wage job and make ends meet. In 1975 the average cost of a year of college, for tuition room and board was $2,275. Today, the average cost of attendance for a student living on campus at a public 4-year in-state institution is $26,027. Not only do the bootstraps that worked to pull someone up in 1950 no longer work, but the entire shoe has rotted out.
Whatever worked for America in the past, doesn’t work now in a country that is witnessing an increase in homophobic attacks on queer youth, the rollback of reproductive rights, and rule by social media disinformation.
This is a generation of leaders who believe in the power of the institution because they are the institution. Meanwhile, they can’t see who is being oppressed by those institutions, because they can’t lift up their shoes to see what they crushed on the way up. This is a generation of leaders that insists that their norms and niceties will prevail, while extremists plot to overthrow Democracy. It’s a generation that firmly believes they did it better, that “things like this” didn’t happen in their day, all the while forgetting that they’re the generation of Americans that donned hoods and enacted Jim Crow laws. Everyone wondering “what happened” to Chuck Grassley conveniently forgets that in 1980 he was endorsed by the KKK and pro-apartheid organizations.
It’s a generation of political leaders that is choking the future with its nostalgia for a past that never existed.
At least, for the love of god, give us some term limits.
Listen, these Senators are not people who need to work for the money. They can retire! They can nap!
This is like in Twilight when Edward, a vampire who has walked the earth for hundreds of years3 is interested in taking a teenager to the prom. Like, you are worldly-wise and bone-weary adult, why in the world do you want to be dancing with a bunch of teens reeking of Axe body spray and repressed sexual anxiety? Similarly, Mitch, why do you want to toss yourself into the American chum bucket known as our nation’s capitol, when you could simply enter your Viking River Boat era? You can simply escape to the woods and abandon us to the TikTok of our own ways.
And Now for Something Good:
If you are newish here, you might not know that this newsletter partners withof to host the Flyover Politics Discord. Paying members of both communities get to participate in hot dish discussions on corn and caucuses and our favorite local gas stations. Garrett is also an incredible author and community activist who runs the Barnraisers Project, which trains people how to organize to enact change. And if that sounds interesting to you, the Barnraisers Project cohorts start the week of September 18th (and registration closes next Friday). The cohorts teach you (even if you have no organizing or activism experience) how to organize for social justice, especially in majority-White communities. They’re free and surprisingly enjoyable (at least that’s what people tell me) and not too cumbersome (five virtual sessions, 90 minutes each, spread out over ten weeks). More info/registration here (and cute little Instagram slides here). Sign up to be the “Good Thing” in your community.
Also, another community-related good thing: MYAM is working with the City of Literature to kick off a MYAM book club! The book we are reading, The Farm by Joanne Ramos, is part of the One Community One Book initiative sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, so there are a lot of opportunities for webinars and in-person events. You can read more about the book club here! Also, get The Farm and read the first 50-75 pages, because our discussion starts next Thursday.
Oh, you want more good things? How about women’s sports! WOMEN’S SPORTS!
A group of Philadelphia residents raised money to wipe out $1.6 million in medical debt.
Texas said goodbye to taxes on period products. (Nice try, Texas, but we are still mad at you and you know what you did.)
I don’t trust bosses, and capitalism is bad, but Indeed is giving trans employees money to move out of states that are targeting trans people.
A bunch of very very rich people, who don’t want to give writers a fair wage and instead replace them with AI, are having a hard time. And shucks, what a shame, must be stressful to be so rich and so mean. God forbid you do anything to change.
A giant oak fell on the Florida governor’s mansion. NATURE IS SICK OF OUR SHIT!
Events! Events! Events!
Do you want to talk to me and Sarah Viren about the nature of truth, high school, and shadow puppets? Well, gird your loins because on September 7 at the Iowa Nonfiction Writing House on 530 North Clinton St, Iowa City at 7 pm, I will be in conversation with Sarah about her book Name the Bigger Lie.
The Iowa Abortion Access Fund is hosting their annual fundraiser on Tuesday, October 17th from 5:30-7:30 in Des Moines. For more tickets and information, visit their website. One of the auction items will be a signed bundle of my books, including an advanced reader copy of the as-yet-unreleased This American Ex Wife. If you don’t know about the IAAF, they are the second oldest abortion access fund in the country and are working hard to help Iowans get abortions when they need them, which is no small task in this red state. Also, I am on the board! So I’ll be there in a nice dress saying in my best Shania Twain voice, “Let’s go, girls! And fund some abortions.”
What I Am Drinking:
This is Labor Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of fall and the official time for me to start hanging up my skeletons in my house.
Oh, do you think it’s too soon? Well, guess what? I’m a Midwestern mom. My blood bleeds tiny little Target logos. I’m basic as hell. As literal actual hell, which is filled with pumpkin spice, and little barn wood signs that read “Drink up, witches!” The Devil wears a felt hat and prances in the leaves with me.
It’s not too soon for Halloween decorations, my friends. It’s almost too late.
When I was younger my mom would leave up one Christmas ornament or decoration all year round. She said it was to remind us all of the spirit of Christmas, which should be with us for the whole year. I personally think it was because she would always forget to put an ornament or little angel in the boxes and then, oops it’s July.
But in my home, I leave up one or more Halloween decorations all year round, just to remind my kids that hellfire and ghosts are with us all year round.
To go with this new season, I found a lovely little pear julep recipe I am going to be trying. It is essentially a mint julep BUT with a pear simple syrup which is easy enough to make. Here are some detailed instructions from the Stemlit fruit website.
Essentially, after you make a pear simple syrup, you…
Add 8 mint leaves and ¼ oz pear simple syrup to a rocks glass and muddle.
Top with bourbon and fill with ice.
Stir until the outside of the glass begins to chill. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve.
I gave myself this designation. It has no meaning or import, except that as a cult, once every fortnight, we have to sacrifice one of our own.
Also, all comments that are like this will be deleted. I’m tired, you guys. It’s almost the weekend. And if you want to make ableist comments or defend misogynist double standards, do it in the comments of one of those newsletters where white guys complain about “woke culture going too far.”
I don’t remember the actual number, nor do I care!