I feel qualified to speak about grumpy old white men, because (depending on how you define “old”) I qualify as a grumpy old white man myself.
Now, I’m a big fan of being grumpy. There’s plenty to be grumpy about: endless wars, people out of work, terrorists, the list goes on and on. I say: if you’re not grumpy, you’re not paying attention. But as a grumpy old white man, if I want anyone to take my grumpiness seriously, there are some things I should not do.
If I start sounding angry, then even though I may be right my grumpiness loses much of its persuasive force. This is Donald Trump’s problem. When he says we should cut military adventures overseas and do something to protect U.S. jobs, I think he gets it right. But when he goes on one of his angry tirades, all I can think is: “Another grumpy old white guy who bores you to tears telling you everything he’s angry about.”
And if I refuse to acknowledge it when someone gets the best of me, then I lose the high moral ground that grumpiness requires to be effective. (This holds true even when I happen to be right, and others wrongly disagree with me.) This is Bernie Sander’s problem. When he says we need to further reform the health care system and we shouldn’t trust Wall Street, I think he gets it right. But when he refuses to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton has a lock on the Democratic nomination, all I can think is: “Another grumpy old white guy who won’t admit he’s been beaten by a woman.”
Pfeh. All I can say is that these two guys are making the rest of us grumpy old white men look bad; which is too bad, because grumpiness combined with persuasive force, that takes a high moral ground, has the potential to be an enormous force for good.