You know you’re getting old when you luck upon an actual demonstration, get swept up in an event, and your only thought is, “but I have dinner plans, am I going to get out of this, is this doing any good anyway?”.

The full megillah: “You kids! You extremists! This might seriously hurt Hillary’s vote in the Missouri suburbs!” Thus it was that your correspondent was hanging out around the Grand Hyatt today, near Grand Central station, where the New York Republican gala was happening: a grand speechifying dinner at which all three candidates were turning up.

Also turning up was a protest march for the $15 minimum wage, which I’d been looking for for an hour or two, and finally saw coming down the side of Grand Central … at which point a section of protesters, facing steel barriers at the main entrance to the Hyatt, saw the media entrance flapping open and made a run for it. They got in easily, a mix of blackish-blocish types, a union flying picket and generic left hipster, and scattered all ways. It was easy enough to follow them in. But the event wasn’t starting for about two hours, and the hotel itself is vast, too big to occupy. I thought they, we, would be rounded up quickly, but no one seemed to stop them and so the rest of the march kept on coming through.

It was now looking like it might be difficult to get back through the hotel proper without arousing suspicion — I had no intention of hanging ’round for the dinner itself, as it might mean sitting through another speech by Ted Cruz — but getting back through the press of protesters didn’t look easy, either. It was at this point that the old man vibes came across, the sheer irritation with things actually happening. This, more than anything, stills revolutionary ardour: the thought that your routine might be disturbed. I have to get back in time for The Late Show, I thought, as this powerful crowd made it clear to the assembled Republicans that this was contested city. As the crush began to thin, I walked backwards slowly, made my excuses and etc.

The minimum wage protest shows just how much is shifting around in the US at the moment. Five years ago, a demand like a $15 minimum wage was off the table, not even imaginable. Then in Seattle, a socialist activist was elected to the city council, Kshama Sawant, and began a campaign that caught fire from there and rolled across the country. The $15 minimum wage has already been achieved in New York, in a complicated sort of way, so this was a campaign for a national minimum — which will occur in about 2038, or never, if the southern states have anything to do with it. But it’s fair to say that the Republicans have been taken completely by surprise by the strength of the cross-country campaign — especially as it’s clear many Republicans are voting for it.

That’s the serious and confrontational side of the American politics as it is done now. But it is still capable of dropping into its pathetic register, as it did this morning when “whoregate” blew up. At last night’s Bernie rally, an early prelim speaker said: “Medicare-for-all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to Big Pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.” It was a generic use of the political insult of “whore”, but it was a bad choice. By the morning it was all over the news. The Sanders campaign had issued an immediate repudiation calling the word “insensitive” and wrong, at which point — ahead of tonight’s debate — the Clinton campaign demanded that Sanders appear personally and make an apology.

The gutsy thing for Sanders to say would be that yes, the language isn’t good, but, hey, breast cancer drugs that are affordable elsewhere cost $40,000 for a one-year course in the US, and maybe that and a hundred other issues are more important, specifically and generally, than a poor choice of words. But it’s a measure of the overlapping eras of American politics that we’re in now that the whole debate can get hung up on a word for a day or more, even as vast gaps in material things like healthcare remain.

Maybe Sanders will open that front tonight. One can only hope so. It would be a prime opportunity to move the whole mode of American politics on. Then, Bernie’s moving on. He is off to meet the Pope in the Vatican, which will take him out of the New York primary for 48 hours.

Heads have been scratched at this, but it seem obvious that this is aimed at the large Catholic communities in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, the primaries of which are coming up on the 26th. It will help cut down Hillary’s strong lead in Pennsylvania, and give him a win in Rhode Island. This is a lead-up to a possible new demand the campaign will make: that superdelegates should be assigned on the basis of who won which state.

That won’t get Sanders the nomination either, but it will further shake up the Democratic party machinery and make every aspect of the nomination, contested and political, as part of a longer-wave challenge to the Democratic machine …

Exciting times. Maybe I should have gone with the protest, wherever it was going. But not only is it important to keep an objective overview, there’s a new episode of Big Bang Theory on tonight. Sic transit gloria mundi. Not with a winner but a Big Bang.