Joe Pisani (opinion): Is it time for Baby Boomers to pass the baton?

The conflict between baby boomers and younger generations.

The conflict between baby boomers and younger generations.

Getty Images

Every semester, at least one of my students writes a speech on a very provocative and popular topic: “We have to take driver’s licenses away from old people.” At least it’s popular with them, certainly not with me because I’m one of those old people who can’t stop getting older no matter how hard I try. I even considered investing in a toupee so they’ll think I’m in my 40s.

Sometimes they soften their position and say that instead of banning older drivers, we should test them to make sure they still have what it takes.

I always defend my constitutional right to drive a car under the 14th Amendment and tell them that instead of me, they should test Joe Biden, 79, Nancy Pelosi, 82, Mitch McConnell, 80, and Donald Trump, 76, not to mention all of America’s teenagers and weed-tokers. Besides, if Nancy Pelosi loses her driver’s license, she has a chauffeur. I don’t. And if her husband has another DUI, they’ll both need a chauffeur.

Another student suggested my generation caused the problems we’re facing, from a polluted world to inflation and high gas prices. So why, he asked, should Millennials and Generation Z vote for people who say they’ll solve the problems ... when they caused them?

The safest approach is to keep my mouth shut because I don’t want the young vigilantes coming in the night to take away my voter registration, my driver’s license or my Social Security check.

They want young political leaders, and not people who’ve held office for decades. They say it’s time for a change, so as a conciliatory gesture, I offered to give up my teaching job, but warned them they probably won’t be able to find someone from their generation who knows how to use a semicolon, much less a comma, so they should stick with me because I’m a necessary evil.

What can you say about a generation that doesn’t know who Neil Young or Joni Mitchell is and doesn’t care. On the other hand, they respect a few elders, such as the Dalai Lama, 86, Yoda, who died at 900, and Bernie Sanders, 80, who’s always promising to give them freebies. My mother used to call that trying to buy their love. I tried it with my own kids, but it didn’t work.

To be honest, Baby Boomers have to do some soul-searching and start thinking about passing the baton to the younger generation so they can hit us over the head with it. Many of our politicians are old. In fact, they’re probably too old to even be on the cover of AARP magazine, which recently pictured actor Halle Berry, looking robust and sprightly at 55, which makes me wonder: Shouldn’t they put someone older on the cover, like Baby Yoda, who’s 75?

That organization is supposed to be for retired people even though no one in America can afford to retire anymore. While we’re on the topic, it’s probably time for AARP to change its name to AAWR, the American Association of Working Retirees.

The good news is some companies are rescinding their mandatory retirement age of 65 for CEOs. Still, you won’t find many people in their 80s in the corporate world … but you’ll find them in Congress. Dianne Feinstein is 89, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is 87, Richard Shelby of Alabama is 87, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa is 88.

One sad commentary I read said “people over the age of 70 are generally considered to be less mentally agile than their younger counterparts.” That hasn’t stopped Pope Francis, 85. However, his predecessor Pope Benedict, 95, saw the writing on the wall and retired at 85, although Francis says he has no intention to retire. Despite her age, Queen Elizabeth is still going strong, or as strong as you can go at 96.

To keep the youngsters happy — since they’ll be funding our Social Security checks — our politicians should consider adopting mandatory retirement so they can spend their sunset years playing pickle ball with the rest of us.

Now, before you start accusing me of ageism, let me say I have nothing against old people since I’m one myself. I’m a proud card-carrying member of the geezer generation, which did a lot of good things, but now it’s probably time to move to Florida, especially since no one can afford to retire in Connecticut.

To our congresspersons, I say let the youngsters have your seats so they get their opportunity to mess things up ... and just maybe they’ll let you keep your driver’s license.

Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.