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Prall: Reid's retirement may signal generational shift

BY JACOB PRALL | APRIL 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the minority leader, will not seek re-election next year.

Reid has been a senator for three decades. Before assuming the minority -leader position, he served as the majority leader, minority whip, and majority whip. And before that, he served in the House of Representatives from 1983-87. This guy has been around a long time. He’s your standard experienced incumbent, and his decision to leave Congress is indicative of larger generational shifts in the U.S. government.

Reid’s generation is aging out of office, slowly but surely. They won’t leave without a fight, though. Don’t let their ages fool you. Reid made it very clear the remainder of his term in office will be spent kicking and thrashing away at Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Reid announced he wouldn’t run for re-election via Twitter video. Let’s take a second to just absorb that. Even the eldest of Congress wields mighty PR teams fully utilizing what the kids are using nowadays. Which kids are following Reid’s career is hard to say, but the use of such technology for such an important announcement is another example of how Twitter battles internally between commentary and news. 

But who will become our elderly, predominately white male Congress if not senators like Reid?

The spry and young of Congress are emerging as likely frontrunners for a Republican presidency. Compared with Romney, and especially McCain, possible candidates such as Sen. Ted Cruz, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Sen. Rand Paul seem like youthful spirits.

The Democratic Party has a track record of young presidential candidates. John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama were both exceptionally young when elected (43 and 47, respectively.)

Out with the old, in with the new. Many will miss Reid. He has been a vocal critic of the Koch brothers, whose economic influence pulls the many strings of the U.S. political system.

But Reid hasn’t been without his critics. His terminology when talking about the Koch Brothers, calling them out and often “un-American” in 22 floor speeches has drawn fire from the right. Un-American is a term often associated with McCarthyism, and the thought of new age McCarthyism in any form is to be feared. Perhaps there should be a clerk with his finger on “American” in the dictionary. We can’t let miscommunication slow down our Congress.

Reid and his fellow elderly congressmen are facing the end of their careers. It happens every election cycle; Reid is just ahead of the game. His Twitter video was impassioned, and he has a genuine passion for what he thinks is “American.” He’s willing to fight for it, even if for just a bit longer. His replacement has sizable shoes to fill, but perhaps a change in leadership is what the minority Democrats need.


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