Losing to a new generation is a bitter pill for old politicians

There’s an emerging theme from old-guard — mostly white — candidates who’ve lost their hold on power and it’s not pretty.

The latest case is Rep. Michael Capuano, a Massachusetts incumbent who not only lost, he lost in the primary. Voters have to really dislike an incumbent to turn him out in a primary.

Capuano appeared on WBUR, the Boston public radio station, today for an “exit interview.”

He announced he’s not going to run for office again. And why should he, what with all those young people out there.

“It’s not me,” he said of the reasons for his defeat and the so-called angry voters. “It’s whoever was in office in a place that has progressives. That [has] a lot of young people that don’t have a clue what happened yesterday, never mind five or 10 years ago. I get all that. And that’s fine. That’s not a problem to me. My hope is that it ends up something positive. My hope is that the people who came out to vote for the first time or one of the few times from this primary continue to vote and learn these issues and figure out how to actually change the system. Changing a few of the players in the system is insufficient.”

Capuano is the latest “retiring” politician with hurt feelings over the torch being passed not only to a new generation, but a different kind of voter. The 20-year incumbent comes from a district that is growing more diverse.

“There’s nothing wrong with new blood, but it has to be balanced as well with people that have been around that know the history of what’s happened, know the internal relationships between people, know what you can do and what you can’t do,” he said.

He said the party is moving ahead of the voters.

“How progressive can we be? How progressive can we afford to be? How far out in front are we from the average American voter? I think those are all fair questions, some people don’t,” he said.

The woman who defeated Capuano — Ayanna Pressley — is the first black woman ever elected to Congress from Massachusetts.