PRO/CON: Presidential age cap

Should there be a maximum age to run for president?

November 5, 2019

PRO: Presidential age cap ensures a healthy president in office

In order for a natural-born U.S. citizen to run for president, he or she must be at least 35 years old. This age requirement was put in place to ensure that the people running for our nation’s most coveted and highest ranking position would be mature and responsible.

However, once a person reaches a certain age, he or she is too physically and mentally unreliable to become president. This is why there needs to be an age cap of 65 for candidates who run for the presidency. 

One of the worst things that could happen to a nation is the death of a president. Although the vice president will step up to fulfill the president’s role, chaos could ensue especially if we were in the middle of a crisis or war. Many other problems would also arise from a president’s untimely death, such as instability and economic fluctuation. It would create a long lasting political impact on the nation. 

Throughout American history, eight presidents have passed away in office out of 44 presidents that have served. Four were due to natural causes. This is one problem that could be easily solved. By setting a maximum age for someone to run for president, the nation can greatly lower the chances of the leader dying in office. 

Another reason there should be an age cap for the presidency is the lack of mental sharpness found in older people. Although people do get wiser over the years, many mental diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s can hit people as early as in their 60s. 

Having a mental disease would impair a president’s ability to fulfill his or her responsibilities. Running an entire nation can also be an extremely stressful and draining job for someone who is weaker in the body and mind. 

To provide an example, 78-year-old presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently suffered from a heart attack while campaigning. Although Sanders stated that he will continue to run for the presidency, this situation shows us how fragile and susceptible to sickness old people can be. It would be disastrous if Sanders were to win and suffer another heart attack while in office. 

Another problem is the lack of attention on the vice president candidate. Many people only follow the president during campaigns, causing them to know little to nothing about their vice presidents. 

This can become a huge problem since the vice president has a crucial role in the government: the vice president is responsible for taking over the presidency if the president passes away or is removed from office. This is important because someone who people may not be familiar with, may become president due to an untimely death.

Not only will an age cap prevent possible tragedies, it brings innovative ideas of the younger generation to the presidency, allowing the nation to move forward. 

This is why taking the time to read up on all candidates and having an age cap is important. Doing so will help maintain the overall stability of the government if the President were to pass away.

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CON: Older president brings more experience and leadership

Age is just a number. In the 2020 presidential race, five of the 23 candidates are in their 70s. Despite their age, the three oldest candidates in the Democratic nominee race—Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders—are the top contestants, while current president Donald Trump was the oldest man in American history to enter his first-term.

With the sudden emergence of older candidates, there has been an ongoing debate about what is too old for the job. I don’t believe that age should be a factor when considering presidential candidates. 

According to Ellen Langer, a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Harvard University, old age doesn’t necessarily increase the likelihood of contracting illness. Other variables, such as education and wealth, play a significant role in the well-being of humans, demonstrating how older candidates can maintain rational thinking despite progression in age. 

According to a study conducted by VeryWell Health, cognitive reserve, a development within humans who have educated brains, provides a greater resistance to declines in brain structure and impending diseases. Older candidates are not as susceptible to disorders as one may think and are more cognitively capable than are made out to be. 

Moreover, with the increased accessibility of advanced health care along with the prevalence of medical procedures used to cure illnesses, the health issues of the president are trivial concerns to say the least.

The more pressing issue is experience and capability. Most older candidates have the astuteness and insight amassed from decades of political service incomparable to those of younger candidates, making informed suggestions on mending society’s current issues.

 Sanders, 78, has shown his worth as a candidate throughout his political career, currently ranks third in most voter polls among the 19 Democratic contestants. Sanders spoke for many young people when he proposed the pricey Green New Deal that would eliminate production of combustion-fuel vehicles and promote reductions in electricity bills for citizens. This vision to radically change the complexities of society demonstrates the potential of older candidates to satisfy current needs, even inspiring the advocacy of climate activists and young politicians like U.S. Rep. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (D-NY). 

Rather than discouraging these septuagenarians for running as candidates at such an old age, citizens of the younger generation should take this opportunity to support the older politicians of today’s age, appreciating the wisdom and experience that they provide. Older candidates should be included in the discussions of social issues, shedding light on the injustices of discrimination.

All in all, the age of presidential candidates should not be considered. It’s not that older candidates are better presidents than younger ones. Rather, older nominees can serve as inspirations, demonstrating the vast knowledge and political shrewdness required to inhabit the toughest job in America.

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