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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Henry: America’s elderly government could use an age cap

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Collegian | Sophia Sirokman

(Graphic illustration by Sophia Sirokman | The Collegian)

Brendan Henry, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

President Joe Biden’s ghost handshake went viral a couple weeks ago, but since then, videos of the event taken at different angles have been released, showing he was in fact addressing people who were off-screen in the original video. The fact-checked video seemingly dispels rumors of Biden’s confusion, but that does not mean his actions shouldn’t be more seriously considered.

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Before the viral video was fact-checked, I myself fell victim to believing Biden was definitely off his rocker, and it got me thinking we should have an age limit for politicians.

My opinion on Biden did not really improve after seeing the ghost handshake video was actually exaggerated, as he already has a history of rambling and altogether appearing to be “not all there.” I voted for the guy because he seemed a bit less unhinged than the other candidate, but I still feel he is a bit too old. Age catches up to you fast, you know?

“Unfortunately, this means senior citizens are deciding who gets to make decisions that impact the future generation of young Americans.”

The ramblings of the elderly holding the highest seat of political power in the U.S. are not at the forefront of concern, though. The younger people who hold political power in this country are few and far between.

We still rely on what much of the U.S. considers elderly to make decisions for people who will outlive them by decades.

Donald Trump, who was 70 years old when elected president, was the oldest president in U.S. history at the time. The record was then superseded by Biden when he was elected at the age of 78. The U.S. has had the two oldest presidents in its history hold office for two consecutive terms, and this theme of old age exists in other facets of government outside of the Oval Office as well.

Mitch McConnell, a Republican leader and Kentucky’s senator since 1985, comes to mind. The 80-year-old is currently a co-sponsor of a bill proposal called the Saving American History Act of 2021, which would prohibit federal funding to be used for teaching the introduction of slavery to the United States.

He also had to be pressured by Jon Stewart, a comedian and advocate for 9/11 first responders, to efficiently extend the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in 2019.

Most recently, McConnell had a slip-up in a speech when he implied “African-American” voters were not American. He then went on to apologize and biffed that as well, receiving more backlash.

“Politicians should represent the future, not the past, and they should be in touch with the younger crowd.”

According to Business Insider, there are 69 United States senators over the age of 60, with 29 of them over the age of 70, which is eight years beyond what Americans typically classify as a senior citizen. So why are there so many older folks in these important elected positions?

A majority of U.S. voters are nearly senior citizens, with the median voter age in municipal elections at 57, according to The Atlantic. Voting senior citizens are outnumbering the younger population right now, and people tend to vote for candidates that are around the same age as them. Unfortunately, this means senior citizens are deciding who gets to make decisions that impact the future generations of young Americans.

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More young people could go out and vote, but the numbers are a bit stacked in the favor of the elderly. The elderly will vote for elderly people to take and hold offices, and therefore it seems as if the United States government will remain old.

The only way to mitigate this cycle of elderly voters and politicians would be an age cap introduced in the U.S. federal government. Politicians should represent the future, not the past, and they should be in touch with the younger crowd — the ones who will eventually come to lead America’s future.

Considering the government is filled with the exact people whose eligibility to hold office would be affected by an age cap, it will most likely never happen.

Sadly, just because it should happen does not mean it will. With the way the future is headed, our next president just might be a centenarian.

Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.

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