How Old Is Too Old?

old-man-with-a-cane2

When Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1981, he was 69 years and 349 days old. At that point in time, he was the oldest person to ever be elected as POTUS. Although many considered him too old to hold the office, some years later Trump came along and at age 70 (and 220 days), he was chosen to become the U.S. President.

Then in 2021, the record was surpassed when Joe Biden was voted in as POTUS at 78 years of age.

In this article, the author (who believes we need a constitutional age limit for president) writes:

It’s obvious that we are living longer and are generally healthier as we age than previous generations. But it’s also true that the vast majority of us slow down, both mentally and physically, as we head into our eighth decade.

Even former President Jimmy Carter weighed in on the topic when, in 2019, he commented: “I hope there’s an age limit…If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don’t believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president.” 

Yet both Trump (who will be 78) and Biden (who will be 82) have both considered running for the office again in 2024.

Of note, there are several members of Congress who are also serving at advanced ages:

  • Diane Feinstein, age 87
  • Chuck Grassley, age 87
  • Don Young, age 87
  • Nancy Pelosi, age 80
  • Bernie Sanders, age 78
  • Mitch McConnell, age 78

While the U.S. constitution does specify a minimum age for elected members of Congress and the President, it (rather unfortunately) does not address a maximum.

Interestingly, according to various polls, more than half (58%) of Americans say that there should be a maximum age limit — with most suggesting 80 years of age. However, to my knowledge, there has been no legislative action or discussion on the matter.

(Hmmm. Considering the above list, I wonder why …?)

While it is true that chronological age can be deceiving (nearly everyone knows individuals who are far more vigorous than their advanced age might suggest), mental and physical capabilities DO diminish as we progress in life. And while there may be some truth to the sayings that “age is a state of mind” and “you are only as old as you think you are” — can we put our trust in such adages when it comes to running a country the size of the United States? Especially if an event arose that required a “snap decision” that could affect millions of people?

I tend to think not.

(It is my sincere wish that the roster of 2024 presidential candidates will include candidates that can walk straight and think clearly. 🙂)

27 thoughts on “How Old Is Too Old?

  1. Yes, the people that you mentioned should retire.

    It is not just about their own competence. Younger Americans deserve to be better represented. It is time for we older folk to pass the baton to the next generation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I personally believe this ‘lack of NEW blood in federal politics’—i.e. 30-40 yr olds—is that the vast majority of POSSIBLE candidates would much rather do other more rewarding and successful occupations. Furthermore, that age group represents the generation that is very poorly educated and equipped to be a Senator or House Representative or President/Vice-President. Honestly, it is NOT a very rewarding career when exposed DAILY to the limelight and SEVERE scrutiny of the American public and media.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps possible candidates might rather do other occupations, but more rewarding ($$$$) ones? In my blog post entitled, “A Must Read,” the writer points out that there are few positions that offer more financial compensation than politics.

      I do realize there are actually individuals who prefer to use their talents in more personally rewarding occupations, but financially? Holding a political office is pretty hard to beat.

      Like

      • Nan, you hit on a sore spot I also wanted to mention—explained in great brevity, of course! 😉 —about current Congress-members since post-1946 being incentivized for dereliction of congressional duties, rewarded to do little or nothing at all for the people during Congressional sessions! This is because of three major reasons:

        (1) – Too many non-competitive seats in the House of Representatives. For many years:

        The number of competitive House seats has been shrinking. [In 2016] just 40 of the 435 seats in the House were competitive. […]

        These days, an overwhelming number of House districts are one-sided in their partisan makeup, meaning they are virtually unwinnable for the other party.*

        And in the other chamber Senators have 6-yr terms compared to only 2-yrs in the House. If a Senate seat is non-competitive, then a Senator is highly incentivized to stay another 6-yrs, possibly a LOT more if specially appointed for an additional term or there’s no opposing candidates. For example, these 6 individuals have served the longest U.S. Senate terms in history as of January 3, 2021:

        • Robert C. Byrd (’59-2010) — 51 yrs, 5 mons, 26 days
        • Daniel K. Inouye (’63-2012) — 49 yrs, 11 mons, 15 days
        • Strom Thurmond (’54-2003) — 47 yrs, 5 mons, 8 days
        • Edward (Ted) Kennedy (’62-2009) — 46 yrs, 9 mons, 19 days
        • Patrick Leahy (’75-present) — 46 yrs
        • Orrin G. Hatch (’77-2019) — 42 yrs**

        Remember, all 50 states have just two (2) Senators regardless of the size or its population. That’s massive power & influence from tiny or small states! IOW, in the 21st century Senate Chamber that is NOT a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” by any stretch. See how big a bat the Senate carries?

        (2) – Since the 1980’s Congress has increasingly deferred significant or critical national decisions, e.g. war powers and impeachment, over to the Executive Branch and/or to the Supreme Court, respectively. More incentive for irresponsibility, and for that matter sacrificing equal Separation of Powers of three Branches.

        (3) – Congress-members are now billionaires for doing very little. As you correctly allude to Nan, today Congress-members make a BOATLOAD of wages, the median net worth for a member of Congress surpassed $1 million in 2013. And since 1946 Congress-members received a lavish pension for life after serving 5-yrs. The intent of P.L. 79-601’s passage was to attract younger members. This has failed. In reality it has only further rewarded multiple terms, especially by Senators with little-to-no competition in their home states.

        Bottom-line? Our antiquated Constitution and its trilateral Branches are broken and in dire need of its people, its citizens to revamp it and bring her up to speed in the 21st century. Period. 😏

        ———————

        * – Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/11/04/fewer-and-fewer-us-house-seats-have-any-competition/93295358/

        ** – Source: the U.S. Senate website at Senate dot gov

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hello AP2! Thank you so much for stopping by and offering your thoughts.

      I think in many ways –even beyond the political environment– you’re right. Too often the “older” generation hasn’t progressed with the times and this has prevented the advancement of many new ideas and potential improvements.

      I like this saying by Jules Renard: “It is not how old you are, but how you are old.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think there should be an age limit. People should be better at VOTING for decent people. Of course, this is the US & that’s seemingly impossible, especially since after 1980, the educational system has been dismantled. Even before then, if you didn’t want to learn, you didn’t have to. I know lots of people my age who are complete dumbasses but somehow graduated from high school .. & if they didn’t, they got a GED from somewhere or another. It can’t be that hard to get a GED because the people I’m of which I am thinking are really pretty stupid. But whatever … if you denigrate education, this is what you’re gonna get. & we are seeing the results.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I agree that education has severely deteriorated over the past several years — and this “lack of learning” has resulted in the (seemingly) mass acceptance of any ludicrous claim that makes its way to the masses.

      But using this scenario, would you want an individual who has grown up in such an environment to run this country until s/he is into their 90’s?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nan, as an old fart at the age of 63, I would like to see some younger talent involved in both parties. With that said, age should not be a limitation in and of itself. When I see people comment on Joe Biden’s age, they tend to forget that Joe has had a history of saying off-the-cuff things where he could have worded things better. He did that as a young man. Obama was mad at Biden when he spoke of support for gay marriage before Obama was ready to do so. Biden helped Obama go on our record sooner in support.

    With that said, I do recall how excited the nation was when JFK ran and was elected. Seeing kids running around the White House was endearing. Plus, JFK was well-spoken about the future. The same held true for Obama and even Bush, although I disagreed with many things he did.

    When Senator Marco Rubio first ran for president in his early forties, to me he threw his advantage into the toilet in the debates. Before the election, Rubio actually spoke actively about climate change, civil rights and was part of Gang of Eight that helped pass an immigration bill before the House GOP leadership decided it was better politically not to address immigration and refused to take up the bill. Instead, Rubio forgot all of that and ran his GOP campaign like a 65 year old white Republican. His campaign did not last long. By the way, I sent him an email saying the above, as he ran away from his biggest legislative success as if it never happened. he could have been the future of the party, but decided to be part of the past.

    The point I am making, age should not be the limitation by itself on whether someone is a viable candidate. We need candidates to discuss our real problems, their causes and possible solutions and spend less time on what party wins in some childish zero-sum game. Climate change, the environment, civil rights, healthcare access, US debt, et al are far more important and must be discussed. If a candidate chooses not to discuss our real problems and wants to discuss PR issues to get elected, do not vote for them regardless of age. People like Cawthorn, Boebert, Taylor-Greene, et al are horrible, extremist politicians even though they are young blood.

    Thanks for listening to an old fart. I am not dead yet. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Perhaps because I’m closer in age to some of the “oldsters” mentioned in my post, I tend to see things considerably differently than some of you “youngsters.” (You are still in your prime, Keith!) And I STRONGLY disagree with your statement that “age should not be a limitation in and of itself. ”

      Yes, it should.

      I don’t care how healthy a person is when they reach their 80’s, s/he WILL be affected by the physical AND mental demands that come with age. Certainly there are those who progress more adeptly through their latter years, but they are not immune to the aging process.

      Those individuals in Congress who are approaching 90 DEFINITELY need to be put out to pasture.

      Of course, as things stand now, nothing can be done. They will either kick the bucket while in office … or will suffer some AGE-related health problem that will force them to retire. So in that respect, I definitely agree with you on term limits.

      I simply cannot defend Biden as you do. He is not the young man that served under Obama. He may be in better shape physically and mentally than some in his age group, but he is NOT getting any younger and the aging process WILL become apparent if he is runs again and is re-elected.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Nan. I am in full agreement on term limits for all elected officials, including appointed judges. Power corrupts regardless of age. Two terms for a Senator is twelve years.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Age restrictions sound like a tempting thing when one sees the current crop of politicians out there, but you also have to remember that some of the younger ones are even worse. Just look at people like Mike Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    Usually suggestions like age requirements and things like that come up only when there is an older politician or judge who is especially controversial. The rest of the time people don’t make a big deal out of it.

    What I think is more important is term limits. This is supposed to be a citizen government, run by ordinary persons who are elected by their fellow citizens. In a lot of cases this hasn’t been happening. We’ve had the development of career politicians who have never had a real job in their lives because they got into politics early and kept getting re-elected, even family dynasties like. That kind of thing is where a lot of problems crop up. After two terms in congress, that should be it. Retire them, give ’em a pension, and throw them out.

    One of the most serious problems we have right now is not being able to even get competent people to even run for an office any more. Even small towns around here are seeing town board seats going empty because no one will run for fear of they and their families being attacked.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are definitely some “younger” folk in Congress that it would be nice to get rid of so I certainly agree with you, GF, that Term Limits for elected representatives would be a viable (and often welcome) solution.

      However, the office of President already has “term limits” in that the person can only serve for two terms (8 years). This means that if we elect someone who is already in their late 70’s (for example) and that person gets re-elected, we’re faced with the problems I outlined in my response to Keith.

      Part of the problem as I see it is that more often than not, the folks that vote tend to be … “elderly.” So guess who they think is more suitable for the office? Someone in their relative age group … or some young “whipper-snapper” who, in actuality, could very well move this country into a new era?

      Liked by 3 people

      • However, the office of President already has “term limits” in that the person can only serve for two terms (8 years). This means that if we elect someone who is already in their late 70’s (for example) and that person gets re-elected, we’re faced with the problems I outlined in my response to Keith.

        Would it be possible to link a future (fixed) age limit with a (slightly) variable term limit? For instance, assuming 80 years as the age limit, a 72-years old candidate could be re-elected but a 76-years old nominee should know beforehand that an (eventual) second term would not be applicable.
        ¿? .

        Liked by 1 person

        • A reasonable idea, Federico. But getting the U.S. Congress to do anything on this matter? We would all be gray-haired and decrepit

          Like

  6. All this will be moot fairly soon as according to some chap called Ed Senter who I have been ‘chatting’ with recently Jesus will be returning within the lifespan of the current generation and he( Jesus not Ed Senter) will be taking the gospel … Well everywhere apparently.

    Liked by 2 people

      • @Nan
        Always a pleasure to keep you godless heathens up to date with current affairs.
        He hasn’t yet told me what happens to “…the Jew” (his words) when the Lake Tiberius Pedestrian returns.
        Meantime I shall let you lot get back to figuring out the age limit of the US Pres.
        I think Jeff is 104 and he might like a shot at the Oval Office. Even though he is Muslim I reckon he’d do a fine job, providing
        someone reminded him to put his trousers on every morning and the Chief of Staff or Secretary of State loaned him their teeth so he could chew his breakfast.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Oh oh, if he’s coming back I need to clean the house. It’s a mess. Need to hide that golden calf under the couch and the statues of Baal, well I don’t know where to go with those. Maybe behind that pile of old Reader’s Digests in the attic?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. So what you are proposing is taking away my right to vote for whomever I want?

    Kennedy was young, LBJ was 64, Nixon about 60 when he resigned, Carter early 50s, Ronny Baby was old, Bush 1 was 64, Clinton was 3rd youngest at 46, Dubya was 54, BHO 47. The last two were old ducks. 50s and 60s seems to be the historical norm. There were younger people in the Dem primary and we chose Joe. Why? So he could win and dump trump.

    Ok, if you want an age limit, I vote for 88. When this becomes a problem, I suggest we solve it. IMO, Jimmy Carter would have made a better Prez at 80 then DJT would have at 40 (or any age).

    I do agree that age is a factor (so are health, IQ, demeanor, electability, etc.). But I can’t say there oughta be a law.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. To bad there’s not a test for intelligence, integrity and honesty. But off hand I’d go for 80. It’s not just mental ability, but stamina, health issues etc., but it’s not a priority issue at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I cannot attest to accuracy, bu saw on FB today:

    An extensive study in the U.S.A found that the most productive age in human life is between 60-70 years of age.
    The 2nd. most productive stage of the human being is from 70 to 80 years of age.
    The 3rd. most productive stage is from 50 to 60 years of age.
    The average age of NOBEL PRIZE winners is 62 years old.
    The average age of the presidents of prominent companies in the world is 63 years.
    The average age of the pastors of the 100 largest churches in the U.S.A. is 71.
    The average age of the Popes is 76 years.
    This tells us in a way that it has been determined, that the best years of your life are between 60 and 80 years.
    A study published in NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE found that at age 60, you reach the TOP of your potential and this continues into your 80s.
    Therefore, if you are between 60 -70 or 70-80 you are in the BEST and 2nd. level of your life.

    SOURCE: N.Engl.J .Med. 70,389 (2018) ..

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll be the skeptic here.

      Awards, such as the Nobel, are often for work done decades earlier. Getting a top job such as company president, or even pope, is often a response to work done decades earlier.

      So maybe your list is really evidence that the older people are holding the younger people back.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Hello Nan. As for Pelosi I like the younger person she was more than the older person she has become. Two years ago she was asked why she should be the Speaker of the House and she responded that she raised the most money for the Democrats. That is disheartening to think the best qualification in her mind is who raises the most donations.

    But the real issue we have is all of our leadership is elderly. Really elderly. While with the exception of McConnell most of the Republican leadership is decades younger than ours. I hate to listen to Pelosi when she gives a press conference or goes on TV. Not that she is not smart or knows what she is saying, I agree she is very smart. But she has no strength to her voice, she mumbles, she quavers as she talks. She starts a sentence, gets some of it out, then starts again as if she changed her mind or forgot what she said. Or maybe she needed more air. But it is not just her. Diane Feinstein is 87 and she is known to have a “mental decline issue”. Patrick Leahy is a great man, good mind, but he showed how much he has lost a few steps mentally during the tRump impeachment. He couldn’t be heard even with the sound system, he was confused, needed to be constantly coached by the people around him. Don’t get me started on Chuck Schummer, he is a monotone mess. But all of these elderly people know how old they are and refuse to step aside for anyone younger for leadership positions. Heck they all seem to want to die in office. How can they truly relate to the needs and desires of the current generations when their prime was 40 years ago. One of Bidens problems is he sees the congress through the eyes of the 1980’s. Take legalized cannabis for example. The people in leadership grew up with refer madness and the sure knowledge that cannabis was a dangerous gateway drug. They created the laws that tried to stop any use of it and the punishments for those that did get caught using it. They cannot admit they were wrong now. I am not saying these are bad people, I am saying they are out of their time, they need to step aside and let others have the levers of power. They can be senior states people if they wish, advisors. But to me this is the US case where the queen won’t step down and Charles is now too old for the job he waited for all his life. Now it falls to his already middle aged son to do what he never got to do, and the queen still will not step down. We have people in their 30’s, 40s, 50s, ready to step up and lead the country. But the ones in their late 70’s and 80’s won’t give them the room to do so. Anyway, that is my real beef with Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership. A person’s thinking calcifies with age, they have a mindset that is 40 years ago, not what is needed today.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello Nan. I would like to make one more comment on the age of congress. I will try to keep it shorter than my last one. Many of the elected leaders in our government keep wanting to reduce the Social Security payments and to raise the age of retirement. Well reducing the benefit is OK if you are a multimillionaire like most of our Senate and House office holders are but for the average person the amount received now is hardly enough to live on alone, and in most cases is not for a single person. But the real disconnect comes with raising the age of retirement. Elected office holders have staff to do stuff for them and see to their daily needs. They have drivers, security, office help, people to run their errands and so much more. Their jobs are easy, mostly sitting and talking. They work in DC about 1/3 of the year and have months long breaks. They have medical professionals and a clinic right in their work building. Compare that to the average person in the US who works full time. The average worker has no staff to take care of their daily needs, they must find time to do it themselves outside of their work time. They may spend 8 to 12 hours on their feet. They may have to lift or move heavy objects. They have to work when sick, they must find time outside of work to get medical attention. I could list more disparities between the jobs the people do and the job congress does but suffice to say that by the time a working person is in their late fifties to early sixties they are worn out and tired. I wouldn’t want to be doing construction or nursing at 68 or 70 years old. Can you imagine the pain from standing at a cash register for 9 hours at 72 years old? But the politicians don’t see the struggles of the working people because they don’t do it. Maybe there should be a rule that three or four days a month elected office holders must do a manual labor job. Rotate the jobs they must do. I think you will see a marked difference toward the working person then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When one considers how little is physically required of the folks in Congress, no wonder they are still functioning in their VERY senior years! All they have to do is eat, sleep, and poop … and occasionally offer input on the things that affect the rest of us.

      I say … kick these old birds out!

      Liked by 1 person

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