Is passion and politics a young man’s game?

By September 11, 2015Public Affairs

I remember reading an interview with Bob Dylan earlier this year as he proclaimed that “Passion is a young man’s game, older people gotta be wise.”

However, two politicians on both sides of the Atlantic seem intent on making the folk legend eat his words.

Here in the UK we have been subjected to, what appears to be, the unstoppable bandwagon of Jeremy Corbyn.

If the polls are to be believed (a risky strategy) then Corbyn looks set to take control of the Labour Party with the party establishment bracing itself for profound changes in direction on a number of issues from Europe and Trident to austerity.

As important as those issues are, what has been most fascinating is the mercurial rise of a man who barely scraped together enough nominations to make it onto the party ballot paper.  We often hear of the importance of ‘image politics’ and yet the popularity of a veteran politician with a penchant for home knitted jumpers has turned British politics on its head.

Sold out venues, clambering on top of fire engines to address screaming crowds, supporters desperate for autographs and selfies – I’m sure Dylan himself would be used to such receptions but has politics now dispensed with its concern for image and focused on the more important issues?

We see a similar trend emerging in the US with the emergence of Bernie Sanders who appears to be standing in the way of what appeared to be the unstoppable juggernaut of Hillary Clinton.  The email scandal engulfing the heir apparent to the American throne has created a vacuum which has been eagerly filled by Sanders, a 74 year old US Senator with a background in the civil rights movement, strikingly similar to our own Jeremy Corbyn.

Yet despite his advancing years, Sanders has been pulling in the crowds and last month he packed in 28,000 people to a campaign event in Oregon.  Contrast that with the next Bob Dylan gig which is expected to draw in around 2,000 fans.  Are older politicians the new rock stars of our generation?

We should also remember that current Republican front runner Donald Trump is pushing 70 and current US Vice President Joe Biden is yet to declare his intentions – aged 72.

So maybe Dylan got it slightly wrong – it appears that passion may in fact be an old man’s game. A question then remains. Is wisdom?

Time will tell.