Politics

Should US presidents have a maximum age limit?

WRITTEN BY
12/02/21
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Fact Box

  • President Biden was the oldest president at the date of inauguration at 78 years and 61 days, while Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest at 42 years and 322 days. 
  • The Library of Congress states that a presidential candidate “must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 yeas, and 35 years of age or older.”
  • According to Worldometer, the average life expectancy in the United States is 79.11: 81.65 for females and 76.61 for males. Since the 1950’s, overall life expectancy has risen from about 40 years old to 80 years old.
  • Humans have two different ages: chronological age and biological age. The first is the number of years alive, while the latter is how old a person seems.

Noah (Yes)

While the minimum age to run for United States President is 35, the median age of those elected to the office is about 56 years old. In an age of exponentially advancing technology, our current elected officials do not have a clear understanding of the issues which will be facing current and future generations due to their age—clearly exhibited by this exchange between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Senator Orrin Hatch, who is 87 years old. 

Our US population is on average 38 years old, and the life expectancy age in the US is 78.8 years old. Currently, there are 25 elected officials in Congress that are older than the life expectancy age who are making decisions on behalf of those of us who will reap the benefit or destruction in the future. Gerontocracy is an increasingly important problem in the United States in which individuals significantly older than most of the population are elected to public office. These elected officials are more likely to side with the older demographics who turn out in higher rates to vote. 

Not only are these individuals less likely to be in touch with current events and trends, but they are also more prone to cognitive decline, mental deterioration and have a harder time with decision making and multi-tasking. They are also more likely to have less energy and medical limitations and are less likely to meet and visit with their fellow Americans, something many people believe is shown in the Biden administration. For their health and our country's future, we need a maximum age to run for president.


Curtice (No)

Past presidential elections have produced aged candidates, including Ronald Regan elected at age 77 in 1981 and Joe Biden entering office at age 78 in 2020. Despite that, the presidential age has remained a hotly contested issue for Americans. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution lays out the minimum requirements, including the minimum age but mentions no maximum age requirements.

American voters are well aware, or should be, of the age of any presidential candidate and can take that fact into consideration when casting their ballot. It is not the age of a president but the mental sharpness that matters. In our republic, voting comes with certain responsibilities. Voters should take those responsibilities seriously, considering a candidate's policies, not just whether or not we approve of their characteristics, including demeanor or age.

Reagan’s age was an issue during his first and second campaigns, yet he proved quite adept while in office. Ultimately, any decision resides with the chief executive, yet all presidents also have advisors who are in touch with all demographics.

Joe Biden is the oldest person ever to be elected president. Yet, it is his possibly reduced mental ability and agility that has raised concerns. For reference purposes, it should be noted that Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke while president at the age of 63, a much younger age than Joe Biden or even Donald Trump as president. Wilson’s stroke left him severely incapacitated for the remainder of his presidency, with Wilson’s wife, Edith, essentially acting as the de facto president. That was a constitutional crisis. Freedom in America includes Americans being able to elect any person who meets the constitutional requirements to hold office, and that does not limit a person based on age.

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