North Texas Daily

Age limits on political offices are long overdue

Age limits on political offices are long overdue

Age limits on political offices are long overdue
September 30
12:00 2022

Politicians in office work for the people of the United States, so it’s important these elected officials are fully capable of doing the job while accurately representing U.S. citizens. Looking at the demographics of the current U.S. Congress, it is obvious the 117th congress is the most diverse. While this is an amazing feat, it is also one of the oldest congresses yet, averaging at 59 years old.

While 35 is the minimum age limit for U.S. presidents, the Constitution does not mention a maximum age limit. The House of Representatives requires at least 25 years of age and the Supreme Court has no specific qualifications. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is important to consider whether having an old office is the best decision for America.

Dementia affects memory, thinking and social skills. It can cause Alzheimer’s, head trauma or simply old age. As people grow older, the risk of developing dementia rises — especially after 65, according to the Mayo Clinic.

President Joe Biden is serving his first term and is also the oldest president in U.S. history at 79 years old. Former President Donald Trump was 74 at the end of his term and was the oldest president until Biden.

We are relying on people who are past the average retirement age — 67 in America — to continue working and run the country. It is a very important job, and it is fundamental the people in these roles are able to handle the job. Most people retire due to aging affecting their minds and bodies, and politicians should retire when they begin to feel this lapse in themselves. 

In 2019, former President Jimmy Carter sat down for an interview at an Atlanta event for the Carter Center.

“You know, if I were just 80 years old, if I were 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president,” Carter said.

During the interview, Carter talked about how much mental acuity it takes to be president, going from one topic to the next while also adopting new ideas. 

“I don’t think I could undertake them if I was 80 years old,” he said.

A YouGov poll from January found more than half of U.S. citizens support an age limit for elected officials. Thirty-nine percent of those who think there should be an age limit think the limit should be set at 70. 

Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the president and then voted on by congress. Once they become justices, they serve until they die, resign, retire or are impeached. When these politicians spend the majority of their adult life in power, it can get to their heads and make them unfit to serve. At some point, they stop serving the citizens and begin walking through life on a power trip.

Out of the current Supreme Court Justices, Clarence Thomas has been serving for the longest at 30 years. That is a long time for one person to have such an important role. Having people with experience is important for running a productive government, but it is also important to give fresh minds a chance.

Having the government overrun with career politicians can lead to their worldviews corrupted by the power they are given. People feel more secure of their leaders are educated and have had reputable experience. If we limit these politicians based on age then many may feel as if they aren’t led by experienced officials.

The best way to get good at something is to practice, and those who are 80 and still in the same office have all the practice in the world. Unless given a chance, young and new politicians will never get the opportunity to gain experience. This also results in good and well-intentioned politicians being booted just because of their age.

Reaching a certain age in life doesn’t make you lose all morals, so kicking people out based on age could cost us valuable leaders, and people shouldn’t feel incapable solely based on age.

There are a lot of factors to consider when dealing with such a difficult matter, but when over half of Americans support an age limit for politicians, change needs to be made.

Featured Illustration by Jenna Wesson

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Madelynn Todd

Madelynn Todd

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