The Aging Question in Presidential Politics

When it comes to being President of the United States, how old is too old?

We know the U.S Constitution sets a minimum age for a president. He or she must be 35 years old.

But there is nothing in our founding documents or in the law that says anything about a maximum age for a president.

But age has become a factor in this 2020 presidential campaign. That’s because the leading Democratic contender so far, former Vice President Joe Biden, is 76 years old. Another leading candidate is Bernie Sanders who’s 77. And of course President Trump, who likes to pick on Biden’s age, himself is in his 70s, at 72.

So should there be a law that sets an age for being too old to be president?

All the talk about age has resulted from the gaffes Biden makes, confusing New Hampshire for Vermont on a recent campaign trip. And President Trump has misspoken at times, too, confusing Dayton Ohio for Toledo Ohio recently.

But we’ve had older presidents before. Ronald Reagan was 73 when he won re-election.

Before the federal age discrimination law in 1986, a lot of people were forced to retire at the age of 65.

But we live longer now. When President Eisenhower was elected in 1952 at the age of 62, the average life expectancy for men in the U.S. was 65.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Wisdom is with the aged”. But then there’s that famous quote credited to Oscar Wilde that says, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”

(Photo credit Getty Images)

 
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