It looks vibrant. It looks like leadership. It looks like wisdom.

There was a collective sigh of resignation (or was it disappointment?) when septuagenarian Glenn Close was passed over for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the recent Academy Awards. The honor went to English actress Olivia Colman, 45, for her role in The Favourite

Olivia is no spring chicken, so this wasn’t a case of the ingenue snatching the prize. While her work may not be well known on this side of the Atlantic, but she has a string of awards to her credit. In a movie about 18th Century British monarchy, Olivia was well cast. 

But still. Come on. GLENN CLOSE. 

She’s but one example of What 70 Looks Like. 

Seventy looks vibrant. It looks smart and forward-looking. It looks savvy and smart. It looks like it’s got a long way to go before it quits the scene. 

It looks like this because it’s true. It is evident in all facets of public life. Even among high profile people with whom you might not agree. 

Seventy Looks like Leadership

The mid-term elections of 2018 marked a sea change in the U.S. Congress, the kind not seen in decades. 

The newly elected congressional class — 100 strong — brought the average age down by a decade. Last year, the average age of a representative was 53; for senators it was 61. 

That huge shift wasn’t because the oldsters were booted out with their oxygen masks flying. 2018 was a record year for retirement from Congress. Some, like Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Sam Johnson (R-TX), both in their 80’s, reached respectable retirement age; others simply “retired” from public office. It’s a tough job.

To be sure, the new batch of Millennials and Gen X-ers in Congress is as refreshing as it is encouraging. Youthful engagement in public life, shaping all aspects of American policy, could not come at a better time. The new class is a shot of diverse energy that belies any concern that our Legislative branch was in danger of fossilizing. 

In many ways, the electoral gods smiled down on the United States in 2018. Running for office is “cool” again. It’s an acknowledged mark of adulthood as the Millennial generation takes its place. 

They are in place to learn how to drive the train.

And who is driving the train now? 

The vibrant septuagenarians, that’s who. With their hands placed firmly on the wheel (for good or for ill, depending on your point of view). From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,(D-CA), 78, on the Democratic side. Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell (R-KY), is 77. 

Congressional leaders Pelosi and McConnell possess shrewd skills, hewn from decades in the cage match called politics. Both evoke unwavering support from their constituencies. both at home and among their party’s congressional members. Both wield power. Both command respect. Neither of them is going anywhere, any time soon.

Donald Trump, at 72, didn’t even share the high school years with Pelosi and McConnell, yet he is the oldest elected leader of a global power. 

President Trump has some qualities that frighten, or at the least confuse, America’s allies, adversaries and the rest of us. His age is the least of it. 

However, he isn’t going anywhere any time soon either. By the time the 2020 presidential race is in full swing, he’ll be 74. Much could happen between now and then, but if the political or judicial winds don’t change, many believe he’ll the Republican Party’s unchallenged candidate. And a fierce one.

On the other side of the aisle, two of declared contenders are age-appropriate for 2020’s presidential dance. Elizabeth Warren, who turns 70 in June, and of course, Bernie Sanders, 77. Once again, Bernie is a force to reckon with. 

According to the New York Times, the Sanders campaign chalked up nearly $6 million in donations, on the first day of his campaign; over $10 million by the first week. And it appears it is young supports filling the Sanders coffers.

The Times reported that the Sanders’ first-day campaign haul was dominated by young donors, 39 years or younger. They accounted for nearly half of the money raised. 

Now maybe the financial support is pie-in-the-sky. It doesn’t necessarily suggest he could win the election or even secure the Democratic nomination. But here is what it does suggest: 

Bernie Sanders, at 77, is a relevant contender. He has widespread appeal among youthful voters, people who also support candidates a generation or two younger. What he says resonates. Kamala Harris and other presidential hopefuls should take note. 

Seventy looks like wisdom

Who are your seventy icons? The people who have a lot more to give, to teach and to share. Who are wise. I’d like to get 70 for 70 — people from all walks of life who embody the idea that 70 is simply the start. Please let me know in the comments. 

Because then there’s 80. Talk about wisdom.

A pan-curious writer and traveler, reflecting on a life well-lived. Women 60+, let’s do this!
A pan-curious writer and traveler, reflecting on a life well-lived. Women 60+, let’s do this!

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