November 13th, 2014

If two thirds of the electorate aren’t voting, is the third that is actually us?

If the same old people with the same old ideas in the same old parties are being bought with the same old money, what’s new?

The people that talk about these things – constantly – seem to think that people aren’t voting because they’re mad.

I think it’s much worse. I think they just don’t care.

As published in The Daily News, November 14, 2014, and in The Memphis News, November 15-21, 2014

Old Idea


Mitch McConnell is 117.

Across the aisle, Harry Reid is 132, same age as Nancy Pelosi over in the House, and John Boehner is 98. The last time any of them had an original idea, they had to call it in on a rotary phone. The way they get somewhere, or fail to, is as antiquated as our infrastructure, as much in danger of collapse as our bridges.

Here at home, Walter Bailey is 202, and is actually suing the kid who chairs the County Commission for failing to genuflect. Brian Kelsey looks like he’s 13, but writes recessive legislation that would suggest he was born somewhere during those halcyon days post Civil War when poor people knew their place and there was no such things as income tax. And the good old boys in Nashville want to make amends for Tennessee ratifying the 19th Amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote by taking away their right to privacy in 2014.

It’s not their actual age that makes them old, it’s the outdated nature of their thinking, not so much that they have a screw loose but that the screws are rusted in place.

I’m 101 myself, and while I can’t find my keys, my mind is still running. I may need a bathroom every 15 minutes, but I haven’t flushed the progress of decades. A cup of coffee with many of my peers these days sounds like a Reagan rally if not Eisenhower, and invariably includes the question, “What are we leaving our children?”

Let me help – you’re leaving them apathetic if not disgusted, and tired of you.

The sweep of the Grand Old Party last week was with a very old broom in the hands of less than one-third of the electorate, many more 60 or older – 37% according to NBC News – many fewer 30 or younger – only 12%. That 25-point gap is greater than the last three midterm elections.

We’re losing young people’s idea energy and replacing it with brain reflux and inertia sciatica. The response to this election for most of them  – hell, for two thirds of the entire country eligible to vote – can be summed up in one word.


Most of young and/or creative America cares about Washington about as much as grandma’s cribbage game and finds it about as relevant. They’re busy getting behind same-sex marriage in a majority of states, medical marijuana in close to a majority, and recreational weed in the Capitol’s own gardens.

Meanwhile, Congress is in the midst of a long intellectual nap, and the Koch brothers continue to use old money and old-fashioned fearmongering to add legislators to their inventory. It’s no wonder that the hope of most voters and an entire generation has been turned into cynical indifference.

Like a lot of older neighborhoods, Congress may have to go to complete rack and ruin before newer thinking can move in and save the place.

I’m a Memphian, and we need to get our kids back.


I'm a Memphian by Dan Conaway

 If you don’t read it, I’ll read it to you. The book is available in print online and all over town and now in audio online at Amazon, Audible and iTunes, read by the author – columns, comments and character references for a city filled with it and often absolutely full of it. Take a look or a listen.



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