A maximum age for politicians won’t fix our government
An overwhelming majority of the electorate supports a maximum age limit for elected officials, according to a poll released by CBS News last week. It found that 73% of people support maximum age limits for elected officials, while 27% oppose this idea.
The minority on this issue is correct.
In a representative democracy, people should have the opportunity to vote for whichever candidate best reflects their values. If the voters think a geriatric candidate cares about the issues they support and will fight hard to get things done, that’s great. Even if 97-year-old Jimmy Carter wanted to run for president in 2024, he should have every right to do it.
Part of the reason why people may want younger politicians is that the 2020 presidential election was an outlier. Donald Trump was the oldest person ever elected to his first term as president — until Joe Biden broke his record.
The country would be better off if different people from both parties ran for president in 2024, but that’s not necessarily because Trump and Biden are old. It’s because of their ideas, rhetoric, and attitude. While voters do have concerns about Biden’s cognitive ability, it doesn’t mean that every older American is like Biden in that regard.
Actress Jennifer Lawrence recently expressed disdain for older people running for office in an interview with Vogue. Lawrence was “incensed” by “the average age of politicians in general,” the article said. “We have to live in the future that they’re creating,” she said. “These people are f***ing old. They’re 100. McConnell was alive and well and thriving when schools were segregated.”
This logic makes little sense, though. Old politicians of varying ideologies exist. Trump, Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders are all in their 70s. Yet they have major political disagreements. People of various ages can support different policies.
Voters should want the best people for the job filling political offices. If some of those people are in their 20s and 30s, that’s fine. And if some are in their 80s and 90s, that’s fine, too. An arbitrary age cutoff would restrict the democratic process and prevent qualified people from holding elected office. It wouldn’t improve the state of the country.
Tom Joyce (@TomJoyceSports) is a political reporter for the New Boston Post in Massachusetts.
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