Here’s my March column for the Holland Sentinel…
I’m fed up with old white men. A few old white women too, but that’s a different story. Let me stay with old white men for a few minutes.
Hardly a day goes by when I’m not embarrassed by old white men. Listen carefully, because I’m not going to say this again, which is something old white men like to say. I know, because I am one. I like to explain things, especially obvious things, because those are the things we old men like to talk about. But listen anyway. Don’t even try to stop us from saying whatever is on our minds. We can talk louder than you.
Half of the Democratic presidential candidates are old white men, and they’re embarrassing. All of them. Someone had to say it. I wish all of them would retire, move to Florida, live in a gated community, and play golf. Bernie Sanders says that he doesn’t play golf, so I don’t know where he should go. But just go away, please. Let a few of the younger candidates have a chance. I mean, it’s not as though the old guys have such great track records. The old white men are using up way too much oxygen to apologize for things they either said or did over the years.
Being gracious, I’m willing to forgive them, but they need to move along.
And then there’s the Republican candidate for 2020. He’s an old white man too, even though he pretends he’s not, with that fake tan and orange hair and young wife. He isn’t fooling anyone. He’s had his chance. Now, it’s time to move along, please. He’ll be as old as Joe Biden is now, if he completes a second term. And that’s too old.
I’ve been feeling this way for a long time, long before I became an old man. In 1972, when George McGovern was running for president, he said, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” I cheered when I heard him say it, even though I thought he was pretty old at the time. But then all the other candidates who ran in the primaries that year were old white men too. In those days we never had other options.
Richard Nixon, who won the Republican nomination that year, carried 49 states and all but 17 electoral votes, so most people must have been satisfied with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in. I wasn’t satisfied, but I was a young man then, and no one was listening to me.
Old white men ran most things back then, and you might think that times have changed. But old white men still run most things. They dominate government, business, finance, real estate, and the world of technology (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, the four trillion-dollar companies). I might as well have included the church too, though that’s not an industry, with some notable exceptions.
Here’s the astonishing thing. With all of that dominance, guess which group in America feels discriminated against? Well, to be fair, lots of groups feel that way, but one group that I wouldn’t expect to hear so much complaining from is, you guessed it, old white men.
According to a recent NPR/Robert Wood Johnson/Harvard poll, 55 percent of white men in the U.S. say they feel discriminated against. Old white men are suffering, no doubt about it. We’re getting our hats handed to us by women and people of color. We’re losing. You wouldn’t know it from the debate stage at the recent Democratic presidential debates but, trust me, it’s true. What’s rightfully ours is being taken from us.
I wasn’t going to mention this, but I’m also embarrassed by a lot of old white men who aren’t politicians. Harvey Weinstein comes to mind. It’s pretty bad when dozens of women—over 80 women in the film industry alone—come forward to accuse you of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse, which allegedly took place over the course of 30 years. And even then, the jury was able to find him guilty of only two of five charges.
Sadly, Harvey Weinstein is not alone. Think of Matt Lauer, Tony Robbins, Garrison Keillor, Les Moonves, Brett Kavanaugh, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Bill O’Reilly, Steve Wynn, James Levine, Al Franken, Louis CK, Roger Ailes, Jeffrey Tambor, Kevin Spacey, among others. Not all of these men have admitted guilt, and several have strongly denied the accusations. One, Roger Ailes, has died and is unable to defend himself. And a few of those who have been credibly accused of serious sexual misconduct are not white men.
Still, there’s a pattern. And I’m fed up with it. Do you need me to say it again, a little louder this time?
Update: Since this column was written, both Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have dropped out of the presidential race.