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The Generations conflict

Responsible for the correction was: Wojtek Przeniczka

The problem of ageing politicians has become a much more important issue in recent years than it used to be before. It is mainly related to the front runners of 2 main political parties: Donald J. Trump, and Joseph R. Biden. Both are the oldest presidents in history elected to the office by nomination of the Democratic or Republican party. On the other hand, we can also observe other prominent politicians, like Mitch McConnell, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi or the Supreme Court justices, who still stay in their office. All of the above are the most prominent, and well-known political leaders of the United States. However, in recent years, people have started to realise that age may be an obstacle to leading the nation.

This fall Pew Research Center, in the article ”Most Americans favour maximum age limits for federal elected officials, Supreme Court justices”, asked Americans what they think about a maximum age limit for elected officials. The pollsters asked not only for the executive branch, but also for elected members of Congress, and the Supreme Court justices. Based on the results we can surely admit that the overwhelming majority of the people approve of establishing the limits. About 79 % of the respondents approved of the maximum age for elected politicians in Washington D.C. Surprisingly, as many as 74% of the respondents support the maximum age for the Supreme Court members. 

Although the Constitution does not give the maximum age for any person elected, it does specify the minimum. For example, for a president, it is 35, for a senator 30, and 25 for a member of the House. However, referring to the people’s views, our dream president would be in his 50s. This fact is even more surprising when both of the frontrunners in the next year’s election are in their late 70s/ early 80s. The situation looks pretty similar in Congress, where an average senator is 65 years old, while the average House member is 58. This fact puts some commentators in consternation, because the same voters who argue that politicians are too old, make them elected.

In my opinion, setting up the maximum age for every politician is the wrong way. The clue to this issue is a generalization. While some politicians in their office are unquestionably too old to be as effective as they used to be, some of them are still capable of doing their jobs at a higher level than many of their younger colleagues. For example, no one dares to accuse George Washington, who was in his late 60s during his presidency, of being too old. It was a very serious age, especially in the 18th century, when healthcare was at a very different level. Secondly, modern Republican idol and mentor – Ronald Reagan was in his 70s throughout his presidency. On the other hand, one of the worst presidents in US history, Andrew Johnson was in his 50s. So it is rather an individual aspect, than a general rule.

Above we can see only a few examples which support my thesis. In my eyes, we should focus on their personalities, achievements, experience, and behaviour rather than separately on their age. For the same reason, I am against the minimal age rule of being a candidate. Some people, especially nowadays, are still immature in their 30s, or 40s (!). Per contra, some young people are full-blown in their late teens or 20s. For instance, multibillionaire Elon Musk was able to run a successful company when he was only 24 and sell it 4 years later for almost 350 million dollars.

Worked cities

  • Garamlich, John. “Most Americans favor maximum age limits for federal elected officials, Supreme Court justices” Pew Research Center, 4 October 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/10/04/most-americans-favor- maximum-age-limits-for-federal-elected-officials-supreme-court-justices/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023
  • “Compaq bys zip2.” CNET.com 2 January 2002, https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/compaq-buys-zip2/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023.

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