06 Jun Too Old to be President?
This post applies both to Joe Biden and Donald Trump, and to any other person over perhaps 75 who wants to run for President of the United States.
Most Americans think you are too old for the job.
In a recent poll, more than two-thirds of respondents – including nearly half of all Democrats – said President Biden should not run again, because of his age alone. While less than half said Mr. Trump was too old, that can be explained in part by the fact that anyone who wants Mr. Biden to run and win certainly will not answer that Trump (who is four years younger) is too ancient, and Trump supporters likely will not respond that their man is long in the tooth, either. If the names were left off, it is probable that a majority would say that 78, which Mr. Trump would be in 2024, is too elderly, also.*
*Put it this way: If it were Joe Biden hoping to start another term at age 78, a majority would say that 78 (the age Trump will be) is too old. If it is bad for the gray goose, it is bad for the gray gander.
We know not why our fellow citizens believe these particular ages are overly ripe; that was not part of the recent poll. But Principle Based Politics does have some thoughts of its own on the subject.
Right up front, however, we want to say that we do not think age alone is a reason to vote against a candidate. We know and have known many people who were healthy, vigorous, and sharp as a tack well after age 90, let alone 76, 78, or 80. The premise of this blog post is not that all persons 75 or higher should be disqualified from office, or that we would never vote for someone above that age.
Nevertheless, we do recognize the arguments against elderly candidates:
- If their physical or mental capacity were to decline, presidential work would be problematic
- Resulting death or incapacity could force a calamitous succession
- Lack of vigor in the Oval Office may reduce public confidence at home and abroad
- Overly “mature” candidates may not engage younger voters*
*The latter point is at least partially belied by the candidacies of Bernie Sanders, who was popular among younger voters when he ran at ages 74 and 78.
Regarding the second bullet point, actuarial tables show only a 58 percent chance that an 80-year-old man will survive to reach 86 (the age our current President would be at the end of a second term). Obviously, that means there is at least a 42 percent chance we would be voting for the candidate’s vice-presidential running mate to fill out the term. It is not significantly better for a man just four years younger, particularly when he is overweight.
Trump and Biden
This brings us specifically to Donald Trump and Joe Biden. In addition to the generally-applicable arguments bulleted above, we think there are more reasons these two men are headed “round the bend,” as the Beverly Hillbillies’ Jethro used to say Granny had “done gone.”
Your humble blogger has long noticed that “the older you get, the more like yourself you become.” This saying, first heard years ago and verified many times since, means that a nervous individual becomes more nervous in his or her later years, an obnoxious person more obnoxious with age, and a stupid person more so, etcetera.
Apply this wisdom to Presidents 45 and 46. Donald Trump, even he might admit, is reckless. Joe Biden is and long has been mistake prone. Each also has numerous other characteristics that one would not exactly like to see become more pronounced.
Do you really want to see a Donald Trump in office again who is more inattentive to the truth, less cautious in international relations, more irresponsible with the national debt, wilder in his speech, hastier in his judgments, increasingly heedless toward wise counsel, exceedingly uncontrolled in his emotions, and generally rasher?
If Joe Biden already is prone to mistakes, do you honestly want to see him struggle from ages 82 to 86 as he increasingly bumbles facts, makes worsening mental and physical slip ups, gets confused more so than he does now, progressively (pun intended) mismanages the country’s budget, and becomes ever more caustic toward opponents?
No, thank you. These two are too much like themselves already.
Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics.
Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.