Let’s face it, America has a “gerontocracy problem,” said David A. Graham in The Atlantic. Washington’s halls of power are full of people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, many of whom are too old to be effective. That problem was highlighted last week when the San Francisco Chronicle ran a remarkable story alleging that 88-year-old Democratic Senator from California Dianne Feinstein had become “mentally incapacitated.”
In the play, four senators and three former employees recount moments over the past two years when Feinstein didn’t fully appreciate longtime colleagues and seemed confused when discussing political issues. Feinstein has denied she is in a mental decline, but even if we accept her denials, the advanced age of our politicians remains a major problem, Peter Suderman said Reason. com.
This is the oldest Senate in American history with an average age of 64 years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80 years old; Sen. Chuck Grassley, 88; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82. At a time when clearly new policy imperatives (think technology regulation) and issues (climate change) have taken center stage, we’re being governed by octogenarians who haven’t had a new idea in decades . All of this raises serious questions “about the ability of our nation’s ruling class to carry out its duties”.
And those questions start with the presidency, Rod Dreher said The American Conservative. Our current Commander-in-Chief is 79 years old. If he runs for a second term and wins, President Biden will be 82 on the day of his inauguration and 86 at the end of his second term. His most likely opponent in 2024, Donald Trump, will be 78 years old should he be sworn in a second time. At that age there is a much greater risk of senility and physical decline – as Biden has already demonstrated. Granted, he’s always been prone to gaffes, but his impulsive senior moments during the Ukraine crisis — calling for regime change in Russia and labeling Russian atrocities “genocide” — have gone from embarrassing to dangerous.
Actually, this is not a new problem, said Meghan McCain in the Daily Mail. Octopuses have long had an “iron grip” on Washington DC. I vividly remember having lunch with my father, Senator John McCain, in the Senate dining room and watching Senator Strom Thurmond, then in his 90s, “roll over to his table and an attendant put his napkin on him and helped him feed him”. Thurmond died five months after leaving office, “when he was 100 years old”. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia served until age 92; In the end he voted with a show of hands.
When such a problem arises in the private sector, Ruth Marcus said in The Washington Post, one can be sure “that a board would find a way to push a senile CEO aside”. But there is no age limit in the Senate, leaving voters free to oust politicians who are past their prime. Unfortunately, their employees often cover up the fact that they “no longer work”. And the politicians themselves won’t admit it: most leaders are simply “not ready to recognize when it’s time to step down”.
The solution is clear: age limits for our legislators, Maureen Callahan said in the New York Post. Commercial airline pilots have a mandatory retirement age: 65. Air traffic controllers too: 56. So why not politicians? A recent YouGov poll found that a clear majority of Americans want an age limit of 70 for elected officials. Putting that limit in place now would force 30% of current senators to resign. “Who really thinks that a cohort of 70-80 year olds should determine America’s future?
https://www.theweek.co.uk/washington-dc/956599/joe-biden-too-old-american-politics-age Is Joe Biden too old to govern? Exploring the graying of American politics