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The Politic Scene is Getting Old … Literally

The Politic Scene is Getting Old … Literally

If Hollywood were to produce a movie about the current political scene it might be called “The Geezers.”

The two leading candidates for the 2024 presidential election are both old – Biden at 80 and Trump at 77.  While Biden tends to “show his age” more than Trump, both are in that red zone of life when “anything can happen.”  If either of them is returned to the Oval Office in 2025, he will be the oldest person to ever serve as President.  That means voters will be acutely interested in the person serving as Vice President.

Until January 2021, when she stepped down, Nancy Pelosi (83) was the Speaker of the House.  She has not shown any signs of physical or mental debility that would impede her ability to service.  That is also true of her younger counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer (72).  Regardless, they are still old.

We have had several recent examples of the frailty of aging officeholders.  Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (81) recently had a “medical event” during a press conference.  He stopped speaking midstream and stood staring blankly into space for more than 30 seconds.  Other senators came to his aid and assisted him away from the podium.  He returned a few minutes later declaring himself to be “okay.”

Any older person – or people with experience with an older person – knows that McConnell was not “okay.”  It would be impossible to know what happened without a medical examination, but it is fair to say that it was not a good sign.  McConnell has also had several falls lately – on one occasion suffering a broken rib and a concussion.

The ravages of age are bipartisan.  California Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein (90) returned to the Senate after a prolonged convalescence at home.  There had been whispered concerns about her mental acuity prior to her absence – and there were friendly calls for her to retire during her stay at home.  While she did not resign, she did give up her chairmanship of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.  Her return has been marred by a number of “senior moments.”

The next oldest member of the Senate is Republican Chuck Grassley (88).  So far, he has not had any public “events” that raised questions about his physical or mental abilities.  He has a long way to tie the record of South Carolian Democrat-turned-Republican Senator Strom Thurmond, who cast his last vote on the floor of the Senate at the age of 100 – after which he resigned and died shortly thereafter.

Some politicians retire when they feel they no longer have the stamina or mental ability to fulfill the duties of the office.  Others will run for reelection as long as the voters will reelect them.  The most obvious and unfortunate example of that was President Franklin Roosevelt.

The importance of an officeholder’s age and condition obviously depends on the level of the office.  In the case of Roosevelt, his declining health had negative impacts on American public policy.  He was terminally ill throughout his campaign for a fourth term – propped up by staff and shielded by a friendly media.    Many blame his condition for the unfortunate results of the Yalta Conference in which the Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin was ceded hegemony over eastern Europe.  Roosevelt died a few weeks after the Conference.

In almost every political generation, there is a call for “passing the torch” to a new generation of leaders.  The current generation has been exceptionally tenacious in maintaining a tight grip on the proverbial torch.  They cannot go on forever – but they can go beyond their ability to provide the American people with good service.

Personally, I favor a constitutional amendment that would ban anyone from running for federal office – President, Senate and House – after attaining the age of 75 for the presidency and the Senate, and 78 for the House.  Yes, that would mean that neither Biden nor Trump would be eligible to run today.  I suspect that none of the current aforementioned officeholders would approve of my proposal.

In terms of that hypothetical movie, would it be a drama, a comedy … or a horror flick?

So, there ‘tis.  

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

4 Comments

  1. Doug

    It’s probably not coincidental that the mean and average ages of Americans keeps rising and that presidents and legislators themselves seem to keep aging.

    • larry Horist

      Doug … You are right. The life expectancy has moved up to 77 for men, but that does not mean there is not significant reduction in physical and mental abilities. And that differs from person to persons. I do believe that Biden is on the slippery slope of mental and physical decline. Both parties should be looking for a new standard bearer.

  2. James Allan

    This article should be front page on every newspaper. It should be discussed on every news program, Podcast and talk show. This issue is taking the the country down and is embarrassing to the world! I am beginning to think the arrogance and elite stature of our Administration and government are corrupt, naive, self-serving a incompetent!

  3. frank stetson

    It’s interesting that during covid, our longevity decreased while median age increased mostly due to less children, apparently.

    Our diversity also increased as well.

    Still middle of the pack, country-comparison wise, plenty of folks do fine with older populations. Europe for example. Or Florida :>)

    check this out for age by states: *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_median_age*

    I am sure we can make out, I am sure it does not affect who runs for office much; the House is getting younger (and stupider), and the Senate is getting older (and grouchier :>), makes sense to me. Median ages: US 38.9 House 57.9 Senate 65.3.

    I often remark how the House is “the people’s house” and, as such, should represent a broad spectrum of age, experience, any demographic. It’s where the wild folks can thrive with wild new ideas to debate. It’s where even folks like you and I, can have a voice and make a difference. The Senate is generally where things are finally decided, where legislation is finally determined, it’s “the upper house” and IMO, you better really know your shit here, especially procedurally, if you are going to effect change. This is no place for the unexperienced, the untrained, and the young —- unless very exceptional. Harry Reid knew procedure, so does Mitch McConnell — no matter what I think of his ideas, he knows his manner and methods.

    The age difference makes sense to me here, the ages —— well, it does seem to be where the retired can still get a job :>(

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