April 2nd, 2020


A note to my geezer peers: Let us disappear

Garrison Keillor

By Garrison Keillor

Published March 26, 2020

After a week in Corona Prison with my loved ones, I must say — if I were to croak tomorrow, I'd look back on the week as a beautiful blessing.

Feeling closer than ever to friends, the complete loss of a sense of time, the intense gratitude for the wife and daughter. We should make it an annual event.

A week of isolation. Call it Thanksgiving. The one in November we can rename Day of Obligation.

I'm an old man, I don't worry about myself, I worry about the millennials and Gen Z and those little kids eating supper with their parents at our family Zoom conference the other night.

Growing up with GPS, will they ever appreciate the beauty of a map? Will they bother to learn to spell, given spell-check, and doesn't the love of language begin with forming the letters? Thanks to Netflix and a thousand other things, they'll keep boredom at bay, but isn't it boredom that brings out the creative urge in a person?

The millennials' charismatic spokesperson, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is five years away from running for president, and will America be ready to elect a hyphenated person in 2028? It's doubtful.

It struck me as weird to see millennials enthused about a 78-year-old student radical from the Sixties. My generation has hung on too long and we need to be overthrown. We consider experience to be a prime requirement for public office and we're wrong.

Biden and Sanders have far too much experience, most of it wrong. The U.S. Senate is no qualification for higher office whatsoever. None.

Look around — it's governors who are doing the work of dealing with the Situation. The Senate is an echo chamber. Two years ago, Ocasio-Cortez was waiting on tables and tending bar at a taqueria in lower Manhattan, a natural doorway to politics, much better than law school.

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My generation is over. The world belongs to the young and we geezers are tourists. (Have I said this before? I think so. My wife is nodding. I guess I have.) Do we allow tourists to vote in America? And here is an issue nobody in public office will touch with a ten-foot pole: why not establish polling-place testing for voters over 60 to eliminate those suffering from dementia from obtaining a ballot?

And so I am proposing that the right to vote cease at age 70. An arbitrary age, I admit, but so is 18.

I know plenty of 12-year-olds who're better qualified than some people my age. Face it, intellectual acuity declines with the passage of time and the ingestion of animal fats and malted beverages, and if it's low to begin with, a person comes to a point where you need close supervision.

I speak from personal experience. My knowledge of basic math peaked in the 11th grade, my science literacy long before that. I made my career in the field of fiction, a useful trade but not so conducive to good citizenship. Personal admission: I was in New York during the Minnesota primary and so, for the first time in my adult life, I didn't vote. It felt good. Why bet on a game when your team isn't playing?

At 77 I am on a glide path and enjoying my days and don't have so much at stake as that little family eating supper. The dad is a journalist, the mom is a nurse, two crucial lines of work. I am an old man with a good wife and daughter, whom I'm now going to ask if they can see where I put my glasses.

Thanks for reading this far. Be well. Keep in touch.


Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.