Why there should be a Constitutional maximum age cap for U.S. presidents

When the Constitution of the United States was written in 1787, the written charter required for the president to be at least thirty five years old to be eligible to take office, but there was no maximum age limit included. Perhaps, it was because the founding fathers were on the older side, or never saw old age as an issue. Maybe it never even crossed their mind. Centuries later, we are still feeling the ripple effect of this decision, and it’s not looking good for the country. The immense responsibility that comes with being the president of the United States makes it one of the hardest jobs. An individual with declining mental and physical health is simply incapable of carrying out this responsibility. Hence, there should be a constitutional age cap on presidents in the U.S.

Years of evidence-based research proves that aging causes a decline in the brain functioning. This can include, but is not limited to, cognitive changes, the ability to remember, make judgements, and comprehend. In the most extreme cases, elderly individuals can experience serious chronic neurological disorders such as different types of dementia that are incapacitating. The ability to perform basic tasks and functions which would otherwise be second nature become harder with old age. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, between the ages of 65-69, two in every 100 people have dementia and the risk doubles every five years. To illustrate, during Ronald Reagan’s second term in office he was in his late 70’s and was showing early signs of Alzheimer’s; displaying absent-mindedness, forgetting names, and making contradictory statements which his adversaries pointed out was some form of dementia. Reagan denied the attacks but 5 years after his second term in office ended, he publicly announced his diagnosis to the American people. Years later, his biological son, Ronald Reagan Jr., revealed after his father’s passing that his father was battling Alzheimer’s during his presidency and that he was well aware of the diagnosis. This raised the question about the competency of older people to perform presidential duties while in office, considering they are naturally more subsceptible to physical and mental alterations.

The current President of the U.S, Joseph R. Biden is 79 years old, making him the oldest president to ever take office in the country’s history. Biden has been showing similar speech patterns to Reagan and while it may not be dementia per say it’s clear there is some natural loss of cognitive functioning that comes with aging. More recently, during a White House Conference on hunger, nutrition and health, Biden asked “Where’s Jackie?” several times, referring to the deceased Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana who passed away about a month ago due to a car accident. Biden had mourned her death just a month before, so how could he possibly forget such a tragic event? While Biden does have a speech impediment that he’s struggled with his whole life, this is obviously more than just a stutter, there’s a bigger underlying issue regarding his mental acuity that needs to be addressed.

Another important factor to support a maximum age limit is generational renewal. In this context, generational renewal refers to the idea that it’s essential to have younger politicians replacing older generations in politics due to the generational change that comes along. This idea brings about a newfound interest in recent cultural issues that can otherwise be neglected by an older president or not properly addressed. It’s healthy to implement this idea because if politicians are in power for their whole life it can cause greediness, burnt outness, and sometimes abuse of power. In addition, generational renewal implements a more natural flow to the government, where the president is representing the current generation and they can feel like their voice is being heard.

While a constitutional age limit for presidents is very unlikely to happen anytime soon, it’s still important to talk about this issue, so voters make more informed decisions when casting their ballot. In-that, it will give an opportunity for younger candidates to step up their game and speak for the younger generations of today on issues that are directly affecting them. A maximum age limit benefits the American people because it guarantees fresher minds in politics, better understanding of recent issues, and mentally and physically sharp politicians who are fully capable of running this robust country.