My article titled Why you should not vote for 70 year old presidential candidates generated considerable feedback. My original article made a case that people who are in their 70s are not the best suited to be President of the USA. I rarely revisit or defend a topic, but after 77 year old Michael Bloomberg announced that he has joined the presidential race I felt this would be appropriate.
The US constitution states that a person needs to be at least 35 years old to be eligible to become President. When the minimum presidential age was established, the voting age was 21 year. In 1971, 26th amendment reduced the voting age from 21 to 18 yet the minimum presidential age was never revised. Today there is a movement seeking to bring the voting age further down to 16 because proponents feel these individuals have the depth of comprehension and maturity equivalent to 18-year olds from a couple of generations before. Yet, here again, no one is challenging the presidential minimum.
So why are we targeting 18 to 34-year-old people? Why is our democratic society preventing citizens who must pay taxes, can be called to defend their country and can legally get married in all 50 states from running for office? The easiest answer would be to accuse the founding fathers of being a group of bigots who were against this subgroup. A more plausible answer would be because they felt that this age group did not have the maturity and necessary experience to lead such a great and complex country. Nevertheless, a discussion about setting an upper age limit for eligibility causes an adverse reaction in certain individuals.
The rational of those who feel that the presidency should be open to anyone who can stand in front of an audience is that there are 75-year old people who break dance, complete a 26-mile marathon and have the sustained mental focus and agility of a 20-year-old. What these persons fail to share is whether these extraordinary activities are correct and unbiased rather than being from a Facebook-feed frenzy. Even if these stories are not click-bait snippets, the fact that such a pensioner makes morning news is because these events are extraordinarily rare and out of the norm. In statistics, these extremes are called outliers. Outliers represent values that are off the radar. Comparing mental faculty to a 20-year old is ironic because it further backs the fact that we acknowledge that younger generations are more agile. In the context of this topic a 20-year-old is not eligible to be president.
In the era of wanting to look artificially best at everything we share, take 73-year-old President Trump’s health. Dr Ronny Jackson’s claimed that President Trump’s excellent health was due to his incredible genes and that he was not concerned that the president only slept four hours a night. Dr Harold Bornstein’s claim that Mr. Trump was unequivocally the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency was shown to be a lie when Dr Bornstein admitted with CNN that Donald Trump had dictated the statement. Last November, President Trump’s unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, was supported by a doubtful claim the president was getting a head start on his annual physical. All this concern about the President’s health (physical and mental) are primarily because of his age. There would be less need for such behaviour with a younger person.
Should 250 million US voters risk be electing a septuagenarian based on such outliers? Can’t the United States of America nominate a few middle-aged persons who are less of a risk in term of mental agility, likelihood of death and other age related factors? Saying that someone has a higher risk of not at his/her best when they reach a certain age does not constitute an attack on the person, it is being realistic. The reason why many societies are against child soldiers, child marriages and have enabled laws that limit certain behaviour with or in front of children is because these societies understand that there need to be mechanisms that protect this group. If one shifts through lists of youngsters, one would find outliers in their ability to go to war and raise a family yet society does not open the flood gates for everyone.
77 year old Michael Bloomberg announced that he has put his name in the presidential race as a Democratic candidate. If elected, he would be 82 years old at the end of this 1st term in office. Mr Bloomberg is a respectable billionaire businessman who was New York Mayor between 2002 (aged 60) and 2013 (aged 71). Mr Bloomberg formed the company that carries his name in 1981 (aged 39) and today ranks amongst the top 10 richest persons in the USA. Could Mr Bloomberg repeat his successful venture had he started at 70 rather than at 39? This is a question no one can answer unless we can report on a parallel universe created by some Back to the Future time warp.
Irrespective of which way one spins on this topic, one needs to always remember that Bloomberg L.P. is a privately-owned company and how it fares impacts shareholders and a relatively small number of people while the Presidency of the USA impacts an entire nation and has a spill-over effect on the world.
All activities, be they physical or mental, have an age range that represents the optimal execution of the activity. Persons in this bracket are statistically operating at peak performance. Many activities do not preclude others from participating and it is not an issue if results are below par, but should we apply this reasoning to the highest office of our country?