President Biden’s Age: How old is too old?

By Gabrielle Chagniot

The president has stated numerous times that he still has the mental acuity and physical fitness for another four year term. I disagree.

Many Americans agree with me. Age aside, we think that President Biden is too infirm  to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the office of the presidency. We think that the post should be relinquished to a younger candidate. Many voters feel torn, based on age, between the incumbent president and Donald Trump, the man likely to be the republican nominee.

Americans around the country have said that the age of both men has  played a role in their decision-making when choosing for whom they should vote. Reuter’s stated on December 5, 2023 that Biden’s approval rating is 47 percent because of his suspected cognitive decline that may be revealed in his method of handling the current conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. The economy is not operating at optimum capacity; we are in a recession.

President Biden has made the argument that even at eighty-one years old, he will continue to successfully govern the country. Footage has shown him trip several times on various staircases, and most recently he tripped over a bag of sand while attending the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. Three people needed to help him get up. I don’t think tripping may not seems like a big deal if the candidate was younger and also in better mental shape, but since Biden is eighty-one and has from time to time not shown the best mental abilities when giving speeches. This is concerning.

He shook Xi Jinping’s hand and then later called the Chinese president a dictator. Compared to the alternative, Trump, who is the most likely republican front runner, and all the indictments he is now facing, I think that most voters may feel that Biden may still be a better choice regardless of his opponent. It’s not just President Biden. I have noticed that several politicians of his generation have been unwilling to step down from their positions. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for example, towards the end of her life, had missed ninety-eight votes due to her complications with shingles. She had also shown symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous other politicians have remained in office well into their eighties; to name a few, Nancy Pelosi (who is now considered to be Speaker Emerita) but who nonetheless remained the incumbent Speaker of the House until earlier this year at age eighty-three.

Mitch McConnell is another example. He is still in office as the Senate Minority Leader even at the age of eighty-one, in spite of having twice “frozen up” during press conferences, in what appeared to be seizures during press conferences. His doctors, however, have cleared him to continue to work.

Another example is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 at the age of sixty by President Bill Clinton. She was asked to resign by President Obama halfway through the eight year term of the forty-fourth president, and she refused. Obama asked her to resign due to her advanced age, so that he could appoint someone younger as her replacement. I also think that she should have resigned half way through Obama’s presidency. Many of these politicians from what is called “The Greatest Generation,” I think have, have egos of which they are unwilling to let go. Some politicians may enjoy the limelight, and although they are, in their defense, doing their jobs as best as they can, they don’t want to let go of power or fade off into irrelevancy.

I think this could have consequences for generations to come. Had Ruth Bader Ginsburg resigned, there would not have been another conservative justice on the Supreme Court right now, and Roe vs Wade might not have been overturned. It’s the generations to come that have to deal with the consequences long after that politician is irrelevant. Sandra Day O’Connor, Stephen Breyer, and Barbara Boxer are three former figures in the political world who knew when the time and their age was right for them to end their careers. After spending twenty-five years on the Supreme Court, O’Connor stepped down at the age of seventy-six, and passed away seventeen years later.

Breyer was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1994 and spent twenty-eight years on the bench before resigning in 2022. In 2017, Boxer stepped down as senator from California, having first been elected in 1993. Former Congresswoman Jackie Speier has proposed an age limit of seventy-five. When office holders reach this age, she believes that they should be allowed to finish what is left of their existing term but are then ineligible to seek re-election. I agree with her that there should be an age limit! That idea though seems not to have gone anywhere, as no one else seems interested in making this mandatory.

Some may argue that age means experience which may be true, however “older” may connote declining physical and/or mental abilities. When an elected official has the lives and well being of their constituents in their trust, they should be working at the highest level of competency. The people deserve no less.

 

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