American Gerontocracy 3

American Gerontocracy 3

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Our group of eight gerontocrats is heavily weighted toward Democrats, but that is an accident, not design.  Plenty of entrenched, aging politicians are on both sides of the aisle.  Since we started this series, Senator Dianne Feinstein has passed away at age 90, and our condolences to her family. 

Multipart Series

Now we are expanding beyond the “Halls of Congress” and looking at a wider group of politicians and the discussion becomes more colorful, and in many ways more interesting.  Congress is ripe for discussion because of the concentration of older politicians, but our issues range far and wide.

Please take a minute to look back at our earlier list and hopefully have a laugh or two at their expense.  After all, these are the people sending our Country into financial oblivion and they owe you that much.

American Gerontocrats

Joe Manchin

Republicans, more than Democrats, will be sad when Joe Manchin’s time in the Senate ends unless he goes on to the White House.  But, at 76, Manchin is like many in Washington and has had a political career.  Starting in 1982, he has served in some public capacity until today.  He has been a member of the West Virginia House and Senate, West Virginia Secretary of State, Governor, and then finally on to the U.S. Senate.  Often in the Senate, he decides on many issues and will likely take a stance very close to a Republican position.

Often seen as a champion for coal and the “common man” among West Virginians, he has a self-interest in his support.  His family business is tied to the coal industry, and he holds a significant share of the family coal-related businesses.  He also has substantial real estate holdings.  But with a net worth of only $12 million, he is well off and not wealthy like Pelosi or the late Dianne Feinstein.  But at least he has had a job outside of politics and has some understanding of the real world.

When people discuss a compromise or replacement for President Biden in the next election, his name often comes up.  But his name also comes up with movements like the “No Labels” group as a key member.  In today’s partisan politics, his centrist stance and moderate demeanor serve him well, but his participation in No Labels makes both parties more than nervous.  In the last few days, he has announced that he will not stand for reelection to the Senate and is contemplating a Presidential run.

Sherrod Brown

Sherrod Brown is yet another career politician with an IV League education from Yale.  Yale and Harvard seem to be breeding grounds for a club of politicians dating back centuries, and with a degree in Russian Studies, he was set for greater political fame.  He also received two master’s degrees from Ohio State University while sitting in the Ohio House of Representatives. 

Like most career politicians, his career path continued in government as he progressed to the office of Secretary of State of Ohio in 1983 and then to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993.  Of course, his next stop was the U.S. Senate in 2015, where he now sits as the chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.  Since Government roles are based on seniority and not knowledge or merit, this is a powerful position for someone who has never had a real job.  He is a good Democrat who always tows the Party line on social issues.  He married Connie Schultz, a CNN columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner.  She is known for her ability to provide a voice for the underdog and underprivileged, favorite wealthy liberal causes.

From 1975 until today, he has always drawn a government paycheck.  At only 70, he can be around in Congress for decades.  With an estimated net worth of only $10 million, he is what we might call a middle-class Senator.  Like the Clintons and other public servants, a significant source of his wealth seems to be book deals.  But with all this wealth and banking knowledge, he and his wife seem to have missed several tax payments on their residences and have accumulated penalties for late payments as recently as 2023.

Ed Markey

Ed Markey’s resume includes time as an Army Reservist during the Vietnam era, but then he launched a long political career.  He served only two years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives before transitioning to the U.S. House in 1976.  With John Kerry’s ascension to the Secretary of State in 2013, he was appointed to take Kerry’s seat and has been there since.  He was reelected to the House twenty times, confirming the power of incumbency.  Multiple sources report his net worth of only $900,000, making him among the poorest senators in the country.  Some time spent with Nancy Pelosi could have improved his investing skills.

At 77, his claim to fame seems to be his rise as an icon to the Gen-Z generation for his position on the Global Warming Committee, Covid vaccine availability equity, fighting corporate mergers, favoring gun control, supporting a single-payer healthcare system, and fighting immigration control.  Like several other Catholics in Congress, he has wavered in his opinion on abortion to align himself as a true Democrat.  He also opposed the Defense of Marriage Act and is a favorite of LGBTQ+ voters.  His pairing with Elizabeth Warren as the Senators for Massachusetts is a natural combination.  Pick any liberal cause, and he is there with support.

Senator Markey’s wife, Dr. Susan Blumenthal, is a physician and senior health official who has served as the Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the Office on Women’s Health.  She is now out of government and has several posts, including a public health editor for the HuffPost.  Her net worth is estimated at $1 million to $5 million.

Ron Wyden

Senator Ron Wyden holds the distinction of being the first Senator to support same-sex marriage officially, but he is, after all, a Democrat from Oregon.  He was among only fourteen Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.  He is pro-abortion and pro-gun-control.  His voting record is one of conflict, where he votes with most liberals on most social issues.  But his parents escaped Nazi Germany, and those family experiences seem to have guided his votes on the Middle East and Europe.

At 74, he has been in public service for forty-two years.  Like many Senators, he started in the House of Representatives and then moved on up.  Armed with a law degree from Stanford, he went into teaching and became an advocate for the elderly through the Oregon chapter of the Grey Panthers.  From there, he went to the U.S. House and then into the Senate.  So, Senator Wyden has never had a real job.  But his net worth is reported broadly from $100,000 to $8 million.  Most peg his wealth closer to the $6 million figure.

Lindsey Graham

Lindsay Graham is in the love him or hate him group of Senators.  Not surprisingly, most Republicans love him, and most Democrats hate him.  At sixty-eight, he is on the young side to be on our list, but he is nonetheless a career politician with the potential to be in Washington for decades.  One claim to fame for Senator Graham is that he is the successor to Strom Thurmond, so if he serves as long as Senator Thurmond, he will be there in a wheelchair with someone raising his hand for him.

To Senator Graham’s credit is his Air Force service on the Judge Advocate General’s Corp.  As soon as he closed out his time in the Air Force, he moved on to the South Carolina House of Representatives for two years.  Then, he rose to the U.S. House in 1995 before rising to the U.S. Senate in 2003.  In 2015, he briefly entered the Presidential race but wisely dropped out when it became apparent that President Trump would be the nominee.  Ever the wise politician, he was a harsh critic of President Trump until, well, he was a supporter.  He also holds the unique distinction of briefly sitting as a Senator while serving as a military judge.

From 1982 until today, it appears that he has never had a day when he did not draw a government paycheck in some form.  His long Air Force service qualifies him for a military pension and Senate paycheck, but he earned them both, and his service should be commended.  He has been called back to active duty and served during the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  His net worth is estimated to be no more than $2 million, easily attainable with his government service and at his age.

Merrick Garland

I doubt that Merrick Garland will be on the Cocktail Party list for many Republicans this year.  He has become the symbol of much controversy concerning the impartial application of the law.  He has the distinction of sitting in the Attorney General hot seat as controversy swirls around the FBI, border security, severe antisemitism, terrorism fears, and free speech issues.  At a mere 70, he can stand the heat and seems to weather a fierce storm even if his ship is taking on a little water.

Before he was appointed Attorney General, he was Chief Justice of the US Court of Appeals for DC.  He served on that court for twenty-four years.  From time to time, he has worked briefly outside the Federal Government, but he has essentially been a Harvard student or government employee all his adult life.  He was nominated and rejected as a Supreme Court Justice. 

Garland married Lynn Roseman at the Harvard Club, of course.  According to Forbes, she is a Harvard graduate and the daughter of a prominent Harvard-educated attorney.  Her grandfather was also an attorney and a prominent figure in the New York Supreme Court.  His combined net worth is between $7 million and $33 million.  Forbes believed most of his net worth came from his wife’s family.

Patty Murray

At 73, Senator Patty Murray is on the younger side of the Senate.  She has been involved as an elected official since 1989 when she was elected to the Washington State Senate.  Just four years later, she advanced to the United States Senate and has remained there for thirty years.

Unlike most in the Senate, she is not an attorney and is from very humble beginnings.  Her college degree from Washington State University was in Physical Education.  This makes her eminently more qualified to represent average Americans than her attorney Senate friends.  She has quietly become the most senior Democratic Senator and the third most senior Senator from either party.

True to Democratic principles, she is pro-abortion, an environmentalist, pro-gun control, and pro-LGBTQ+ issues of all sorts.  But to the consternation of her fellow Democrats, she has also sponsored bi-partisan budget bills, voted for some border measures, and against the January 6th Commission.

To her credit, her net worth is reported to be no more than $2 million.  This sum could be easily attained given her age and Senate salary.

James Clapper

Every time I think we have seen the last of 82-year-old James Clapper, he shows up again in some government role.  A retired Air Force Lieutenant General and Director of National Intelligence, he became a polarizing figure during the Trump Presidency.  There seem to be few mild opinions about his time in the Intelligence administration and his defense of the NSA.  His intelligence career spanned both Republican and Democratic administrations.

To his credit, he had a long and significant thirty-two-year career in the Air Force and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General.  He is a Vietnam War veteran who filled several roles in the Gulf Wars.  After his military service, he worked in the private sector for several intelligence-related companies.  He was called back to government service when President Obama nominated him for the job heading the Director of National Intelligence.  The Senate unanimously confirmed him.

But what he is most noted for is the NSA Domestic Intelligence Gathering, Russian Collusion mess, the Hunter Biden laptop, and his conflicting positions on President Trump’s involvement.  Now that the collusion theories have proven false, at least for Republicans, he is viewed unfavorably.  Unfortunately, these issues will probably dominate his resume, and history will place his long, successful military and other government service in the background.

But in a strange twist, President Biden rehired James Clapper, John Brennan, and others as experts and placed on a new Department of Homeland Security committee.  Nothing is out of the realm of possibility in this strange and dystopian world.

Multiple sources report his net worth at $1 million to $5 million, easily attainable at his age.

Resources Used in This Article, various searches for each politician., various searches for each politician.

List of current members of the United States Congress by wealth,

List of richest American politicians,

Majority of lawmakers in 116th Congress are millionaires, by Karl Evers-Hillstrom,, April 23, 2020., various searches for each politician., various searches for each politician. various searches for each politician.