McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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Opinion | American politicians are too old

As the election draws near, people are beginning to question why our two top running presidential candidates are senior citizens
Annapatricia Cruz
If President Biden and former President Trump go head to head during the 2024 election, the winner will be the oldest American president ever, begging the question: Are politicians too old?

Many people feel that as the last two presidents were the oldest in American history, we need younger candidates. The president is supposed to be seen as relatable. By electing elderly people to lead the country this makes them less relatable to the younger generations. 

A Monmouth University poll found 76 percent of voters think Biden is too old to effectively serve another term. Former president Trump often remarks that Joe Biden is too old to lead in office, however Trump is only three years younger making them the first and second oldest presidents in American history. Many Americans feel there is significant risk when the person leading the United States government is a senior citizen.

Most people consider age 65 to be a senior citizen. According to the National Institute of Health, cognitive decline can begin at midlife, but most often occurs at age 70 or higher. Cognitive decline is defined by the CDC as the experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss. Furthermore, the average age of retirement is 64. Since this is true, it makes no sense for the president of the United States to be well over retirement age. 

Statistically, people are more likely to forget things once they get older. This is because of many reasons, but can be explained with simple neuropsychology. The hippocampus is the region of the brain which is primarily responsible for memory, and it begins to deteriorate with age. Furthermore, almost 40% of people will experience some sort of memory loss past the age of 65. The two most recent presidents are both more than a decade over age 70. Presidents need to have strong memories to lead a country, and by having candidates so old we run the risk of mistakes or errors, which could be very destructive.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Declaration of Independence outlines the criteria U.S. presidential candidates must meet. In this clause, it is stated that candidates must be at least thirty five years old to run. With the age minimum being defined so clearly, it can be argued that an age maximum should be in place as well. 

Many folks would argue against a maximum age limit by saying that the U.S. President is merely a face to represent congress, and has little to do with the political, social, economic well being of the country. However, in addition to many other responsibilities, the president does hold the power to sign legislation into law, or veto bills proposed by congress. An argument could be made that an older president with symptoms of cognitive decline brought on by aging could be more easily manipulated by other members of congress. Potentially, this could lead to legislation through a congressman that the American people did not vote for. 

The responsibilities of the United States president has a big impact on the American people, including determining and enforcing the legislation proposed by voters, as well as other congresspeople. Due to the demands of this role, a candidate should be strong mentally, and not easily manipulated. However, with age, cognitive abilities may decline, and older candidates may be more likely to fall into forgetfulness, or even may be vulnerable to manipulation. Perhaps, with younger voters who are politically engaged, younger candidates entering the race may become more commonplace.

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