Witt: Age a consideration in 2020 election

Published 8:08 am Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The American electorate could be faced with a dilemma in 2020 related to some of the potential candidates for the presidency.

Of course, many of those candidates have not indicated they will run, but there are three who, if they decide to be contenders, create some problems for those who would like to see them in office.

The issue is age, and the three possible candidates for which this could present a problem are former Vice-President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump, all of whom will be well into their 70s when the 2020 general election rolls around.

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Sanders was born Sept. 8, 1941, and will be 79 on Nov. 3, 2020, election day. Biden was born on Nov. 20, 1942, and will be 77 on election day, and Trump was born June 14, 1946, which will make him 74.

Frankly, all these potential contenders are too old to be running for the office in 2020.

If there is any doubt the office of president takes a toll on the holder, one has only to look at photos of past presidents from when they first took the office to when they left it.

The aging process certainly appears to be accelerated during the four or eight years of inhabiting the White House as leader of the country.

Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution clearly stipulates the conditions which prevail for those seeking the office of president. Unfortunately, those who formulated the Article did not have enough foresight to set an upper age limit for candidates.

Those framers apparently felt one had to reach the age of 35 before he or she (certainly only ‘he’ in those days, since women couldn’t even vote at the time) was deemed sufficiently mature to hold the office.

Trump is now the oldest person to attain the presidency, followed by Ronald Reagan. And many can remember Reagan was already showing signs of mental decline before he left office.

Perhaps it’s time to consider modifying Article 2, Section 1 with a further stipulation that no one can seek the office of president who will reach the age of 70 while in office. Sure, the upper age limit is open to compromise. Many would undoubtedly consider 70 to be too restrictive, and it could be raised. But any increase should be minimal.

Even in 1850, if a male reached the age of 5, the average life expectancy was only 55. Today, total life spans in the U.S. are approximately 70 years, so the population is certainly living longer.

Still, many infirmities begin to show by the 70s and some of those can be absolutely devastating for someone in high office, where quick decisions can be catastrophic for thousands, even millions, of individuals.

So, if Democrats should select Sanders or Biden, and Republicans determine Trump should be allowed to seek a second term in office, the entire nation will be faced with some tough decisions during the primaries.

While all candidates, even those who have surpassed the accepted age for retirement, may seem perfectly capable and competent at the time, advanced age is certainly a valid consideration which should be on the minds of all those who vote.

Age usually brings a certain maturity and sagacity. It can also bestow a good many afflictions which do not normally accompany those much younger.

2020 looms interestingly.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.