Age Limits, Mental Competency, and the 2024 Elections

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Lavery Griffin

As the two most recent United States presidents have been above the age of seventy-five, the conversation has started as to whether the United States should put an age limit into place for those holding presidential office. However, presidential candidates are not America’s only concern. Many are worried about members of Congress, as the oldest current US Senator is at a whopping ninety years old. 

The public’s concern is based on the mental competency of some current members of Congress. During a committee meeting in August, there was some controversy as to whether California Senator Diane Feinstein was fully capable of accomplishing her job. During a discussion at this committee meeting, Feinstein mumbled and was not responsive to her fellow members of Congress and later was instructed to vote aye by an aide. Additionally, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who is currently eighty-one years old, recently froze during a news conference and needed to be taken off-stage

Many Americans are uneased by the simple fact that some Congress members, as well as presidents, are reaching an age where they are not capable of fulfilling their duties. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, if elected, would be in their early/mid-eighties, which gives citizens stress about the future of American politics. To solve this conflict, some suggest an age limit. Yes, there are already age restrictions, however, there is no age cap. Currently, to serve as President of the United States, one needs to be above the age of 35. What people are pushing for is an age “cap”, or a certain age that people are no longer eligible to be president. 

A CBS News poll found that  77% of all Americans are in favor of a maximum age limit—this number includes both Republicans and Democrats. This prompts the debate over what age should be the maximum. Considering that most arguments are centered around the intellectual capacities of candidates, most are in favor of a relatively high maximum age limit. Many Americans are pushing for the age limit to be around 75 years old. One suggested solution to a change in the age limit would be a mental competency test, which would ensure that the leader of the nation is capable of making sound decisions and is able to be present in the government. 

As of now, no decision has been made as to whether or not there should be a new age restriction. However, many Americans are worried about the upcoming election, which could ultimately put the nation in an unstable position, as great numbers of our leaders—both in Congress and in the oval office—begin to grow old in age. 

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