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There’s a Minimum Age for Candidates – Do We Need a Maximum Age, Too?

by Countable | 9.28.18

What’s the story?

  • In the U.S., a presidential candidate must be 35 or over, a senator 30-plus, a representative 25 or older—do we need an age cap, too?
  • “Most voters understand from personal experience that physical and cognitive abilities diminish precipitously with advancing age,” K. Ward Cummings writes in an opinion column in USA Today. “And yet, in election after election, voters give aging political candidates the benefit of the doubt and elect them anyway.”
  • Cummings says that anyone doubting this should look at the Brett Kavanaugh-Christine Blasey Ford hearing on Thursday: Senators Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Patrick Leahy were also at the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill sexual harassment hearing in 1991, and are 85, 84, and 78 years old, respectively. Also present at the hearing: 85-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is running for re-election and would be 91 at the end of her next term.
  • Fear, Bob Woodward’s book about President Donald Trump, also outlines a number of age-related challenges for the 72-year-old president.

What should retirement age be?

  • Cummings suggests we study the corporate model, where “advancing age is often viewed as a disqualifying factor when considering a candidate’s elevation to CEO.”
  • He quotes a 2017 report by MarketWatch, which notes:
“Nearly three-quarters of S&P 500 firms have bylaws that require CEOs to retire at a certain age—typically 65.”

Why doesn’t Congress have term limits?

Our video explainer will tell you all you need to know:

What do you think?

Should there be an age cap on presidents and members of Congress? Tell your reps…maybe they have someone on staff who knows how to work e-mail.

—Josh Herman


(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / bernie_photo)

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