‘Aging brains make more connections’
Last week, President Joe Biden gleefully related stories about meeting world leaders who have been long dead.
Biden referred to one of them, an ex-president of France, as Germany’s head of state, and also called Egypt’s president the president of Mexico.
But lest you think the leader of the U.S. not being able to recall basic facts is cause for concern, Middlebury College Environmental Studies Professor Bill McKibben says old age is Biden’s “superpower.”
“Obviously you lose a step physically as you age, but the presidency doesn’t require carrying sofas up the White House stairs,” McKibben (pictured) writes in The Los Angeles Times. “And science increasingly finds that aging brains make more connections, perhaps because they have more history to work with.”
But the professor’s defense of Biden is more a retrospect of the era in which the president grew up — and his alleged emulation of that era’s Democratic Party policies.
“[Lyndon Johnson’s] Great Society echoed Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal (FDR was Biden’s childhood president),” McKibben says. “Under Johnson, the federal government took ambitious steps to advance civil rights, to rein in poverty, attack disease, beautify human landscapes and conserve wild ones, and to further science — these were the Apollo space program years. Not every project worked, but lots have lasted: Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, for instance.”
McKibben adds that Biden “watched [LBJ’s] booming economy” shrink the American wealth gap, and now his own policies are doing same.
The commitment to the principles of the New Deal and the Great Society — to the idea of America as a group project, not a series of isolated and individual efforts at personal advancement — are what we desperately need. Turning over all important decisions to “the market” has left us on a planet with melting poles and cartoonish levels of inequality.
McKibben proclaims if the people give Biden another term, he “might well be able to restore confidence in an America that has so destructively turned on itself.”
Given that Donald Trump is only a few years younger than Biden, why wouldn’t he be similarly influenced? Trump’s first vote was in 1968, so McKibben says he’s more like Richard Nixon — but without his “few good qualities” (like creation of the Environmental Protection Agency).
McKibben is the founder of Third Act, a group of people “over the age of 60” that works on “climate and racial justice.” He also founded 350.org which “works to force universities to divest from fossil fuels” and “to create student environmental activist groups around the country.”
The professor’s book “Maybe One: A Case for Smaller Families” (which Slate.com referred to as the McKibben’s “vasectomy memoir”) makes the case for one-child families.
IMAGE: Middlebury College