Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Case for Maximum Age for Politicians

Since the inception of the United States Constitution, along with state and local laws, rules have been established regarding the minimum age for political office. From Mayor, to Governor, to Senator, aspiring politicians have been required to wait until they become of a certain age in order to accept appointment. The mentality has been that people below a certain age are not capable of making mature decisions. However, in recent times, people are considering whether there should be a maximum age for anyone that holds any political office.

Having a maximum age for politicians has been a point of contention, in recent times. Consideration has been given to the fact that, as people get older, their faculties decrease, and are not able to reason the same way as their younger counterparts. When it comes to politicians, many voters fear that their elected representatives are not up to the task, due to their advancing age. Is that perception fair?

In many jurisdictions, the position of Mayor is open to anyone that is 18 years old, and older. From small towns to big, metropolitan cities, voters get to decide whether a relatively-young politician is elected to office. What matters is whether or not the politician can do the job.

To become a United States Representative, an applicant for office must be 25 years of age, or older. The threshold is much higher due to a higher age requirement, and the responsibility is (arguably) much higher (although, to be fair, being the Mayor of a major city could be more demanding than that of a Congressperson). A Representative helps create laws that affects the whole nation.

Going over the requirements to become a United States Senator, besides being a citizen, an applicant must be 30 years of age (or older). The power of a Senator includes ratifying laws, and presiding over political trials.

Of course, the highest requirement for political office is given to the President of the United States. The qualifications include being a natural-born citizen, residing in the USA for the past 14 years, and being 35 years of age, or older. At the time that the Constitution was ratified, it was thought that these requirements would protect the nation not only from foreign nations, but from immature politicians, as well. However, the Founding Fathers never considered putting a maximum age for serving, since the life-span was much shorter than it is, today.

Now, the question that people ponder, constantly, is what to do with politicians that seem to be too-old to be in office. In the case of the current President, Joe Biden (almost 80 years old), people have a perception that he is too-senile, out of his wits, and generally unqualified to hold office. It does not help the fact that he seems to talk to himself, shakes hands with imaginary ghosts, seems confused, trips-and-falls over everything, and says the wrong things...constantly. Is this guy even alive?!

A case can be made that Former-President Donald Trump had a sharper mind than our current President. During his tenure, Trump served from age 70 until he was 74 years old. Arguably, this relatively-younger (SERIOUSLY?!?) president, although controversial, gave credence to his followers that he, still, had his wits. Of course, many people seem to agree that the role of President of the United States is very stressful, and (figuratively) drains the life of the office-holder. Just look at Obama.

President Barack Obama was 47 years old when he moved in to the White House. When he left office, at the age of 55, he looked very tired, as if the stress had affected his physical health. The demand of the job required him to face the nation, answer to The Congress, deal with foreign matters, as well as internal discourse. Even, though, he was in his 50s, the job took a toll on his well-being. Just imagine what this job could do to politicians that are in their 70s and 80s.

Let us go over the presidency of one of this nation’s most memorable presidents, Ronald Reagan. During his years in office, he progressed from being a sharp-witted politician that entertained the masses, to someone that deteriorated in mental acuity. When he entered office, he was a few days shy of being 70 years old. At the time that he left the White House, eight (8) years later, he was showing signs of dementia.

So...what is too-old? What would be an ideal age by which time a politician should be forced to retire? That is something that should be answered by taking a consensus of many factors. Of course, it should be noted that many positions in the military, law-enforcement, and judicial branches have a mandatory retirement age. The uniformed service-members retire at around the age of 60, while state judges are out at the age of 70. This would be an ideal age to go into the private sector, or go enjoy life.

Most definitely, the maximum-age for politicians is something that should be discussed and analyzed. It can bring into light whether the effects of aging affect the physical and mental acuity of those we elected into power.

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