Growing frustration among Americans with the elderly leadership in their government has sparked a nationwide debate about the role of age in politics. While some politicians advocate for a changing of the guard, others argue that age should not be a deciding factor in leadership.
The First to Fall
Senator Mitt Romney made headlines when he announced his retirement, citing his age as a key factor. He noted, “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”
A Different Perspective
However, not all politicians are eager to embrace this sentiment. Senator Lindsey Graham quipped, “I’m not letting Mitt Romney tell me when to end my political career. I’m going to keep doing the job as long as I think I’m able to do it.”
Making Their Own Choices
Some lawmakers, like Democratic Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, simply ignore the concerns, stating, “I believe everyone deserves the kind of dignity to make their own choices.”
Fetterman continued his point by saying, “Ultimately, the voters in their respective states have made that choice, and you know, enough already.”
Age in the Senate
The concerns surrounding aging leaders have been increased by the health challenges of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Age on the Oval Office
On top of health concerns facing some senators, many Americans seem concerned about the prospect of an 80-year-old President Joe Biden facing off against a 77-year-old Donald Trump.
Age Limits in Office
Enacting age limits for political office is a complex endeavor, requiring a constitutional amendment—a daunting task. Last year, when the idea was explored, it received a lukewarm response from lawmakers.
However, recent developments have reshaped the conversation. A wave of retirements has made the House, particularly Democratic leadership, younger.
Additionally, the Senate’s newest members are on average, younger than their more tenured counterparts.
A Gen Z Senate
Congress recently welcomed its first Gen Z member, Representative Maxwell Frost, who is happy to recognize the public’s desire for a change.
However, Frost opposes age limits and believes that people should be free to choose their leaders regardless of age.
Term Limits in Congress
Front directly addressed the idea of term limits by saying, “I look at things like term limits. It shouldn’t be a radical thing to talk about term limits when it comes down to Congress. I mean, they exist for almost every other elected office.”
A Large Reform
Democratic Representative Ro Khanna of California proposes an alternative solution to the age issue.
He suggests instituting 12-year term limits for members of Congress, banning stock trading, and implementing ethics reforms to address the problem without resorting to age limits.
People Stuck in Town
Khanna stated, “I think the political reform plan would actually address it, without being ageist. All of that is getting at this problem, that people have stuck around in this town for 40, 50 years.”
Senator John Hoeven, a former governor of the state of North Dakota, seemed open to the idea of age limits but questioned its practicality.
He said, “Different people age differently, you know, somebody at a younger age may have more impacts due to aging than somebody at an older age. It’s hard to have a one-size-fits-all too.”
Consequences of Age
However, the consequences of the aging leaders in American politics are serious, with some lawmakers requiring unelected staff to manage their workload.
Reasonable Age Limits
One Democratic Representative, Steve Cohen, argues for a more reasonable age limit, suggesting, “I think 90 years old is a reasonable limit,” but when people are struggling with Biden’s age at 80, maybe 90 is less reasonable for American voters.
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