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The U.S. Government Needs to Act Their Age

President+Joe+Biden%2C+left%2C+speaks+to+a+crowd+of+supporters+during+a+drive-in+rally+at+the+Florida+State+Fairgrounds+on+Oct.+29%2C+2020+in+Tampa.+Former+President+Donald+Trump%2C+right%2C+speaks+at+a+reelection+rally+outside+Raymond+James+Stadium+in+Tampa+on+Oct.+29%2C+2020.+%28Luis+Santana+and+Ivy+Ceballo%2FTampa+Bay+Times%2FTNS%29
President Joe Biden, left, speaks to a crowd of supporters during a drive-in rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Oct. 29, 2020 in Tampa. Former President Donald Trump, right, speaks at a reelection rally outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Oct. 29, 2020. (Luis Santana and Ivy Ceballo/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

The United States appears as if it picks its government officials from a retirement home. Seriously, our two presidential candidates this fall are 77 and 81 years old.

Similarly, we have current elected officials that have held office for several decades, shutting out any alternative perspectives from the political system. Age and term limits are the key to ensuring our country continues progressing with time.

“Voters & Congress: An Age Analysis” shows the variance in age groups between voters and Congress. Information gathered from KFF.org and FiscalNote.com (Infographic by Cynthia Cunningham) Photo credit: Cynthia Cunningham

Are age limits discriminatory? To put it quite bluntly, no.

In the same way that there is a minimum age requirement to enter office, there should be a maximum age limit in the U.S. Government. Cognitive function rises and falls. I would not trust a teenager in office just as I would not trust someone in their 80s. They are simply unfit for the job.

For instance, at a campaign rally in South Carolina, former President Donald Trump seemed to have confused his Republican opponent, Nikki Haley, for Democratic politician Nancy Pelosi.

Trump claimed that Haley was in charge of security during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol. He argued that Haley failed to protect the Capitol building and turned down assistance from the National Guard, according to the New York Times.

Haley was not in office in 2021 and Pelosi was the Speaker of the House at the time, a position which has no control over the National Guard, so it is unclear to me who Trump could have been referring to.

“Political Ages: A Visual Insight” shows the average age among U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and the U.S. President and how it relates to voters. Information provided by FiscalNote.Com and Quorum.us (Infographic by Cynthia Cunningham) Photo credit: Cynthia Cunningham

Poor cognitive function does not only plague the Republican Party either. President Joe Biden has had equally embarrassing slip-ups, including mistaking Mexico for Egypt in an interview with TIME Magazine this past February.

Despite countless public embarrassments, for some reason our elected officials still deem themselves fit to take on such high positions of power.

On top of this, our government disproportionately represents our population by generation, with the older generations having a vote with a greater weight.

In a TikTok interview with Capitol Hill Correspondent Ashlee Banks, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was asked if she thinks Senator Bernie Sanders is too old to run for another term as a U.S. Senator. “[T]his issue is less about age and more about leadership,” AOC said.

While I do see some validity to her argument, there is one issue that AOC did not address. Sanders has been involved in politics across three different generations, approaching a fourth if he is reelected this fall. In Sanders’ case, it is the number of terms he has served that is concerning, not necessarily his age.

Leaders like Senator Sanders and Senator Mitch McConnell have been involved in politics for more than four decades each. No single person should have an influence on our policies and decision-making for this long. Our government was intended to be for the people and by the people, but by keeping the same group in office, we are shutting out “the people” from voicing their opinions.

The 22nd Amendment limits a president to being elected to office no more than twice because we are a democracy, not a dictatorship. Why are our congressional leaders above the president? If the leader of our country is not allowed to serve more than two terms, no other elected official should either.

“Top Five Oldest Members of Congress” and “Top Five Longer Serving Members of Congress” show the ages and length of careers among some members of Congress. Information provided by FiscalNote.com and Quorum.us (Infographic by Cynthia Cunningham)

The 2022 mid-term election saw a 94.5% reelection rate for the House of Representatives and a 100% reelection rate for the Senate, according to OpenSecrets.

With our voting system being more of a popularity contest than a true democratic vote, these candidates will continue to be voted in as long as they continue to run. Of course, Americans are going to vote for the most familiar options.

I am not advocating to fill the government with teenagers, but having people in office with the potential to bring several decades-old ideas to the table seems foolish. We are long overdue for fresh voices and ideas in Washington, and the only way to ensure this is with age and term limits.

A true democracy does not work if we keep the same delegates in office until they reach their 70s and 80s. That is a gerontocracy.

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The U.S. Government Needs to Act Their Age