Americans are not excited about the prospect of a rematch in the 2024 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. A CNN poll in late July found that three-quarters of Democratic and Democrat-leaning voters want the party to nominate anyone other than Biden, while 55 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters don’t want Trump as their flag bearer.
et Trump-Biden II remains a likely scenario. If only the U.S. Constitution had the following provision: “No person over the age of 75 may be elected to the office of President.”
That would preclude second-term bids from both Biden (79) and Trump (76) — forcing the country to pass the torch to a new generation, or at least someone born after the 1940s.
Certainly such a change would be the most direct route to removing the threat of another Trump presidency — far easier and safer than trying to disqualify him via the January 6 House Committee revelations or an indictment. Barring another four years of Biden would be a small price to pay for a never-Trump guarantee. For that worthy goal, Biden could agree to sacrifice a chance at reelection.
This is idle speculation for now. There is no prospect of such a measure being proposed in Congress, let alone obtaining the required two-thirds majority in both houses and a majority in 38 of 50 state legislatures for ratification by 2024. (Footnote: Ratification of the 26th Amendment pledge 18-year-olds took less than four months to vote in 1971.) No doubt there would be a dispute over whether Biden and Trump should be grandfathers.
Sooner or later, however, serious thought should be given to setting a maximum age at which anyone can be elected President or Vice-President. Public opinion seems to be moving in that direction, according to a recent YouGov poll, which showed that 58 percent of Americans support an upper age limit for holding office in general — 70 being the most cited number.
The data reflects public awareness that not only Biden, but also the speaker of the House of Representatives, 31 senators and two Supreme Court justices are at least 70 years old. Still, gerontocracy is less of a concern in collective legislative and judicial bodies than in the one-person presidency.
“Energy in the executive branch is a leading figure in the definition of good government,” wrote Alexander Hamilton Federalist No. 70. He wrote these words in defense of the constitutional plan, so they relate to the institutional features of the office, but their clear implication is that an energetic person should direct the executive branch.
Ex-President Jimmy Carter would agree. In 2019, a nearly 95-year-old Carter said, “I hope there’s an age limit… If I were just 80 years old, if I were 15 years younger, I don’t think I could take on the responsibilities that I’ve experienced.” when I was president.”
The simple scientific fact is that, on average, human physical and mental abilities decline with age. And the stubborn political fact is that unlike prime ministers in a parliamentary system between general elections, presidents are difficult to replace without a crisis such as impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment to deal with the president’s disability.
The obvious objection is that categorically excluding a group that made up just over 6 percent of the US population, according to the 2016 Census Bureau, is both discriminatory — based on age — and undemocratic. This demographic cohort will only grow as society ages; and it undoubtedly includes people who could do the job. If an older candidate wants to run, the argument goes, voters should judge his suitability.
However, the fact that the Constitution stipulates a minimum age of 35 confirms that age per se is a relevant qualification. Yes, excluding those 75 and older could exclude many able candidates, but also adults under 34.
Setting the maximum at 74 would make actuarial sense and not be arbitrary. Given that the risks — illness, injury, cognitive decline — increase with age, and that the US presidency requires a full-time, full-fledged incumbent, the 75-year rule would make the office, and by extension politics, “risk-free.” system as a whole. (©Washington Post)
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/place-an-age-limit-on-the-us-presidency-not-simply-to-rule-out-donald-trump-41893282.html Set an age limit for the US presidency — not just to bar Donald Trump