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Forgetfulness and missteps: American leadership is aging

Forgetfulness and missteps: American leadership is aging

As of: September 2, 2023 3:32 PM

Some of them are already over 80 years old, but still feel qualified enough for political work: many leading politicians in America do not think about retirement despite their age. Are Aptitude Tests the Solution?

Recently in Kentucky: Mitch McConnell was asked at a press conference if he wanted to run again in 2026. Instead of responding, the 81-year-old freezes and stares blankly. His assistant repeats the question. After 40 agonizing seconds, McConnell managed a weak OK and two questions before being escorted off the stage.

This is the second such incident in five weeks. Some fainting is completely normal after a severe concussion, McConnell’s team later explains. The Republican Party fell in March, and not for the first time. The senior gentleman known as “Turtle” is not the only senior in the Senate whose age is now evident.

Haley: “It’s the Senate Very privileged elders home”

Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic Senate legend and, at 90, her colleague, is almost the oldest person in the room, having struggled with forgetfulness and attention problems for years. She often gets distracted in meetings – and lets others tell her how to vote.

“The Senate is currently the most privileged retirement home in the country!” Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said on Fox News. “Mitch McConnell has done great things and he deserves credit for that. But you have to know when to walk away.”

Biden is already the President of the United States

Haley, 51, campaigning on the theme of generational change, is still exceptional in this clarity. But the debate about age or term limits is again in full swing. Especially with the next presidential election in mind: For example, Haley recommends mental competency testing for candidates over 75.

He took aim at 77-year-old Donald Trump. At 79, Joe Biden is already the oldest US president of all time. “Joe Biden will never last a second term. We can’t have an 81-year-old president,” Haley said.

Majority think Trump and Biden are too old

A majority of Americans agree with the Republican Party. According to polls, they view Biden in particular, but also consider Trump too old for another term. Jay Olshansky, an age researcher at the University of Chicago, disagrees: Both politicians appear to experts like so-called “superagers” — old maybe, but still very fit physically and mentally.

Biden, for example, plays sports and takes almost no medication. “There’s no evidence of mental retardation. His stuttering tends to be interpreted that way. He looks more frail than Trump. But that’s also because of his weight,” Olshansky said.

So he feels that age limits and tests are arbitrary. Politicians with cognitive problems or life-threatening illnesses would be more helpful if they played their cards closer to voters. You can’t force them to do anything. “If someone who wants to be president has problems with cognitive functioning, we as voters see that,” Olshansky explains.

Age does not decide elections

While a majority of Americans consider these candidates too old, Kyle Kondik, a political scientist at the University of Virginia, believes that this aspect will not ultimately be decisive in the election. “There are a lot of things that people say they want, but they don’t vote accordingly.” Because other factors are more important.