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. 🙂)