Would you hire an attorney if he or she were older than 75? What about an accountant? Whether a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a practicing lawyer, many firms in America have mandatory retirement ages because, as a person ages, they do genuinely run the risk of losing some amount of mental functioning. Now, while some would say that mandating a specific age for retirement unfairly discriminates based on an immutable characteristic, like race or sex, when someone chooses to work into old age they could cause issues for their employers (and employees).
So if many of our lawyers or accountants, people we trust to make very serious, informed decisions on our behalf, have to retire at a certain point, why don’t our elected officials? Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe our government should cut people off at a certain point, yet time and time again, you’ll see politicians pretty far past their prime still serving as your local, regional, or national public officials.
Government shouldn’t feel geriatric. It should be high-functioning, which means, in a perfect world, our elected officials wouldn’t just be seemingly senile figureheads that slick D.C. staffers prop up like puppets with strings. Here are some of the worst offenses of our government resembling a retirement community and why it’s in our best interest as Americans to ensure that those who make our policy decisions are still sharp enough to do so for our well-being.
1. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell
Senator Mitch McConnell was born in 1942, which makes him 81 years old. The year he was born, the Manhattan Project started, Casablanca and Bambi were released in theaters, Pepsi cost $0.05, and C.S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters was published.
Senator McConnell has been in public office for almost four decades, but a couple of recent moments have called his cognition into question. At a news conference this July, Senator McConnell froze up for 19 seconds, and more recently at a press conference in August, he froze up for over 30 seconds. What was the question that puzzled the senator? With bitter irony, he had been asked if he would run for re-election.
No, there was no evidence that he suffered a seizure or a stroke, but many people felt understandably concerned about the senator’s ability to govern after clips started going viral online. Whether he’s got adequate health or not, these moments haven’t been a good look if he’s trying to gain public trust to continue as an elected official!
2. California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Former two-time Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, 83, has represented San Francisco, California, in Congress for over 35 years. When Congresswoman Pelosi was born in 1940, a loaf of bread cost $0.10, a gallon of gas cost $0.11 cents, Winston Churchill was Time Magazine’s Man of the Year, and Americans watched their first televised baseball game.
Let me reiterate: Congresswoman Pelosi is 83 years old, and she recently announced she plans on running for Congress once more. Though she hasn’t had nearly as many embarrassing gaffes as other members of our gerontocracy, Congresswoman Pelosi has confused President Donald Trump with President George W. Bush on multiple occasions, she’s bizarrely obsessed with ice cream – a food product genuinely used to help those suffering from dementia – and gave us the great line of mid-interview confusion now meme’d into history: “Good morning, Sunday Morning.”
3. President Joe Biden
Our current President of the United States, Joe Biden, was, like Senator McConnell, born in 1942. President Biden has served back-to-back terms as a high-ranking elected official since he was 29, when he was first elected to the Senate. Thirty-six years later, Biden was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as vice president.
The world he was born into looked very different from the “Bidenflation” world he is leading the next generation of Americans into. In 1942, one pound of prime rib roast cost around $0.29, homes went for around $3,775, and new cars were less than $1,000.
Without a shred of doubt, President Biden’s mental faculties are failing him. And honestly? It’s really depressing to watch his decline happen in front of a global stage. Some people rightfully consider it to be a textbook example of elder abuse.
President Biden has tripped walking up or down the stairs, while exiting Air Force One, and even while standing up. He has fallen sideways off his bike while greeting members of the public in Delaware, mistakenly told an entire crowd that he had cancer – among other awkward moments where he has overshared his health status, called for regime change in Russia before his handlers immediately backtracked, called an unsuspecting woman a “lying dog-faced pony soldier,” called Fox News reporter Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch,” misremembered the Parkland shooting as having taken place in 1918, simply forgets what year it is in general, and much more.
His mental decline is so noticeable, I could make an entire aggregated listicle of moments that are truly too tough to watch without cringing. He has appeared to get lost while leaving a stage, appeared to fall asleep mid-interview, often can’t speak without creating total word salads, has literally read the part on the teleprompter instructing him to “repeat the line,” and for goodness sake, the man even seemed to forget that a congresswoman died in a tragic car crash and called out to look for her while on stage in front of a live audience.
4. California Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator from California Dianne Feinstein was born in 1933, making her 90 years old. Before she passed away while still in office on September 29, 2023, she served six terms in the second branch of our national government. Additionally, Senator Feinstein was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and served as the city’s mayor.
In the year that Senator Feinstein was born (yes, she was really born in 1933), Hitler took over as Germany’s leader, President Roosevelt gave his first “Fireside Chat,” the first modern sighting of Nessie took place, and Prohibition officially ended with the repeal of the 18th Amendment.
For years now, her own colleagues have been worried about whether or not Senator Feinstein was mentally fit to serve. Allegedly, her own office had an on-call system to prevent her from walking California’s Capitol alone, she made unexpected stances on policy positions or bills which her staffers were forced to correct, she would forget colleagues she has known for many, many years, and even notably forgot that she wasn’t third in line to the presidency any longer.
Very recently, Senator Feinstein suffered from shingles. This caused her to have brain inflammation, among other complications, that left her looking quite disoriented and weak when she returned to the Capitol. Her illness was so serious that she was absent from her post from late February to late August.
Downplaying Cognitive Decline Does Our Nation a Major Disservice
After Senator Feinstein’s distressing health decline began making major news headlines, concerned Americans on both ends of the political spectrum called for her to resign from public office. Though the move was likely motivated by her left-leaning colleagues who wanted to confirm like-minded judges at a faster rate than she could handle, she had already asked to be replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During the last days of Senator Feinstein’s life, her Democrat colleagues wheeled her in to vote. This happened quite literally the day before she died. Doesn’t that raise red flags for you? To me, it begs the question – should an elected official just take the L, quell their ego, and resign once their cognitive state starts to fail?
Whether it’s an elderly politician or a younger one who happens to be a stroke victim who’s also dealing with severe depression, can’t quite speak right without technical assistance, and is somehow incapable of wearing business formal like Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman, it’s neither compassionate nor responsible to keep electing people who are way past their prime.
If you have any sense of empathy whatsoever, it’s really hard to watch very old or mentally incapacitated individuals struggle through speeches or physically collapse in front of live audiences. Wouldn’t you feel awful if it was your own 80+ year old grandparent up there? It’s sad to watch for the person themselves, but it’s also objectively not a good look for America.
Not only are we giving a very bad image of our nation to the people like you or me whom these elected officials represent, but we’re doing the American people as a whole a disservice by electing less-than-competent representatives as our lawmakers. As it turns out, the American people are growing jaded by this gerontocracy; in a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 77% of Americans (nearly 90% of Republicans and a shocking 69% of Democrats) in general think President Biden is too old for another term.
These people are making decisions on our behalf and writing legislation on technology issues, for example, that most other elderly people their age have little to no grasp on. Congress notoriously has fumbled its understanding of social media and apparently struggles with email, so should they be the ones to handle regulations on new tech?
Nevermind that the 118th Congress (our current lineup) is the third oldest ever since 1789, that the median age of the Senate is 65, or that the average American is now officially two full decades younger than your average member of Congress. Power is so egregiously centralized in D.C., to the point that the establishment couldn’t fathom the thought of disrupting their own proverbial gravy train.
Now, just because someone is a career politician or aging in general, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they too will lack mental acuity or physical fitness to do their job. Say what you want about his conduct, but President Trump at 77 years old is just as punchy as in years past – despite arguably unhealthy lifestyle choices. People are living longer, and some would argue they’re healthier (or at least have access to better care) at advanced ages. Furthermore, if science really ramps up its efforts to extend human life, there have been predictions made that humans could live up to 150 years.
Still, we don’t even make the World Health Organization’s top 10 list for countries with the highest life expectancies – we’re edged out by chart-toppers like Japan, Singapore, France, Australia, or Italy, and only rank as number 31. Our own government admits that a long life doesn’t equal healthy aging, noting in a census report that a quarter of individuals above age 60 live with injury or illness. This is a genuine concern as our freedom-focused nation loses its competitive position as the global leader, kowtowing to authoritarian nations like China.
Some would say that people like Vivek Ramaswamy, a millennial biotech CEO now running as a Republican for president in 2024, are like a breath of fresh air among a stale squad of career politicians better suited for a retirement community. Surveys reveal that people on the left and the right are open to younger candidates, and Ramaswamy isn’t ashamed of his age.
At a conference in June, he said, "Take it from me as a young person – I'm 37 years old. I was born in 1985. I truly hope and pray and believe that my best days may still be ahead of me.” While no one under the age of 43 has been elected U.S. president yet, our current president was only 44 when he first ran for president. Though people are skeptical of Ramaswamy’s viability as a newcomer and outsider in a very crowded field, Ramaswamy has consistently ranked among voters as the highest performer at the most recent Republican primary debate.
Someone – anyone – needs to stop the shameful cycle of abuse in D.C. We’re lying to ourselves when we simply look the other way about career politicians who refuse to step down despite obvious limitations. It doesn’t matter if they’re a Democrat, Republican, or anything in between; cognitive decline is a serious issue for the people we’re entrusting to make major legislative decisions on our behalf. So we should be able to discuss it openly without being called conspiracy theorists or treated like questions about mental or physical health are off limits for the protected class of D.C. politicians.
As young Americans, it’s truly up to us to call out the B.S. that older generations put up with when we see it. If we’re looking at a president who would be 86 years old by the time his second term is up, or any other elected official who needs assistance to simply function in the public arena, we’re witnessing elder abuse, and you don’t have to stay silent about it – no matter how much the legacy media will urge you to look the other way.
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