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Should There Be an Age Limit on Leading a Nation?

Should There Be an Age Limit on Leading a Nation?

2 July 2024

Connor Banks

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Donald Trump Illustration

Last Thursday's United States Presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump diverged significantly from the norm. Traditionally, presidential debates focus on policies, track records, and statistics, allowing each candidate to demonstrate why they are the best choice to lead the nation. However, this recent debate was marked by personal attacks, with several clips going viral on social media. From a spat over golf skills to allegations of infidelity, we must ask ourselves: Is this what we want from the leaders of the world's most powerful nation?

This debate highlighted the troubling state of modern politics. Two elderly men—Donald Trump, the "younger" at 78—argued over trivial matters while millions of lives hang in the balance. Why have we allowed this to happen? Why do we permit individuals who struggle to articulate their thoughts to decide the fate of our nation?

One contributing factor is the lack of an upper age limit for political candidates in most Western countries. This has led to our nations being led by out-of-touch elders who may not fully grasp the issues faced by ordinary citizens. During the debate, neither Trump nor Biden appeared strong or capable, yet one of them will become president. With Joe Biden at 81 and Trump at 78, we barely trust those over 70 to drive without re-taking their driving test, yet we expect them to handle one of the most demanding jobs in the world.

Is it time to impose age limits on our leaders? The US Constitution already sets a minimum age of 35 for presidential candidates, presumably to ensure sufficient maturity and life experience. So why not establish a maximum age? Age naturally brings challenges to memory, cognition, and overall health. Should we really expect someone facing these issues to perform one of the most stressful jobs on the planet?

As we contemplate the future of our leadership, it's crucial to consider whether age limits could ensure more effective and dynamic governance. Shouldn't we aim for leaders who are not only experienced but also physically and mentally equipped to handle the rigours of office?

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