'Never Trust Anyone Over 30'

nancy pelosi

Nancy Pelosi. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Most enduring clichés last because there’s some truth to them, and exhibit A is: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

This is so true of the recent hubbub over the advanced ages of the top Democratic leaders in the House.

Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who wants to return to the speakership when the new Democratic majority takes office in January, is 78, the same age as one of her top deputies, James Clyburn, and a year younger than another, Steny Hoyer. There’s a striking generation gap between them and an unusually-young group of newly-elected members, average age 45.

“The party is being taken over by younger people, and my generation can do this the easy way or the hard way,” former party chairman Howard Dean tells the Globe.

And North Shore Congressman Seth Moulton, age 40, is rarin’ to dump the old guard, interpreting election results in which “the American people voted for change” as a mandate for generational change.

As a card-carrying baby boomer, I have to laugh, recalling my own generation’s gratuitous ageism, crystallized in the 1960s by a campus activist who said “you can’t trust anybody over 30.”

Now that all the boomers are over 60, including the ones who pretend they’re not, that arrogant bromide doesn’t seem quite so profound.

The truth is, what Dean and Moulton are saying is witless pandering.

Yes, low turnover at the top can stifle the ambitions of the up-and-comers, who then have two choices – they can stamp their little feet and whine about it or drop the knee-jerk ageism and find ways to make their ideas and presence irresistible to their elders.

In the meantime, they might learn something from those elders about the patience and persisted they practiced to get where they are.

But don’t trust me on any of this.

After all, I’m just a tad over 30.

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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