A nation gambling with nature

There should be a maximum age for those who are eligible to run for president. The first 2020 presidential debate convinced me of this.

Professionalism and exemplary civility could not be found on either side of the debate stage Sept. 29. The 90 minutes meant for thoughtful discussion was turned into a rather gruesome, yet cringe-worthy dissing match between two men in their seventies.

Viewers use these debates as an aid in finalizing their decision before voting, but it’s difficult to pick a clear side when the two candidates spend the majority of the time bickering rather than discussing policy or plans.

Not even a few days later, Oct. 1, President Donald Trump announced his positive COVID-19 status on Twitter.

This prompted me to think of the importance of a president’s health and particularly how age degrades people’s ability to stay healthy.

Gallup News conducted a poll which asked, “How important would you say the health of a president is to his ability to be a good president — very important, somewhat important, not too important or not at all important?”

The results revealed 96% of respondents felt that the status of a president’s health is somewhat important to very important. Although this poll was conducted in 2004, it’s relevance has not diminished. In reality, it’s likely even more important in 2020, the year of COVID-19.

If a president’s health is so important to the majority of voters, why do we consistently elect older people? Part of the problem is older people are more involved in politics than younger people. 

Of course, the world is changing and the youth of today are not only getting more involved politically, but they are also much more likely to express their opinions through protest, both in person and behind a phone screen.

However, many youth who have suddenly gotten involved with politics have only recently become eligible to vote.

The Atlantic reflected this idea in an article and added, “Voters over 65 routinely go to the polls more often than young voters do, and political-science research has found that voters typically prefer candidates ‘who are closest to themselves in age.’”

Granted, a few people from the younger modern generations are gaining traction and inspiring their generation to walk alongside them. A prime example is New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who set the record in 2019 as the youngest woman in history to serve in Congress at age 29.

Perhaps a large reason for her popularity is her age, which makes her more relatable to those her age and younger.

How can we honestly and truly expect an elderly president to best serve the country if they cannot relate to, nor captivate, the younger generations of the nation?

Settle for Joe Biden, a grassroots campaign, was created with this very idea in mind, as most younger eligible voters back the Biden-Harris campaign.

NPR reported, “60% of likely voters under the age of 30 say they will vote for Biden compared with 27% for Trump, according to a poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.”

The choice between candidates is not an easy one, as neither are truly desirable for the average first-time voter.

NPR supported this idea further in the same article in which they stated, “56% of likely voters who support the president are ‘very enthusiastic’ about voting for him, compared with 35% of likely voters who back the Democratic nominee when asked about their enthusiasm.”

Perhaps, though, young voters would be more enthusiastic about electing a president who isn’t old enough to be their grandfather.

Either Trump, who is 74, or Biden, who is 77, will set the record for being the oldest president ever elected, regardless of the outcome on election night.

Forbes discussed the likelihood of their individual survival through their potential presidential terms based on their respective genetic predispositions.

“Biden, now 77 years old, is expected to outlive Trump due to his ‘exceptional health profile for a man his age,’ with a projected lifespan of 96.8 years and a 95.2% likelihood of surviving his presidential term,” Forbes stated.

Whereas, “Trump, who’s 74, has ‘significant but modifiable’ risk factors due to his ‘obesity and sedentary lifestyle,’ but his estimated lifespan is 88.6 years and he has a 90.3% probability of surviving a second term.”

Still, I cannot help but think the nation should not be forced to gamble with fate in hopes that whomever is elected will, in fact, make it through their four years in the Oval Office.

No matter what, this election will not be taken lightly and everyone must do exactly as stated above and settle for whomever ends up being inaugurated in January. In the future, however, it might be in the best interest of the people to put an age cap on presidential candidates, just as there is a minimum age. If someone is too young to run for president, surely some are too old to sufficiently fulfill the duties of commander-in-chief.