Age Becomes a Major Issue in U.S. Politics
Author: Greg Valliere
February 22, 2023
AGE WILL BE A MAJOR ELECTION ISSUE, with Joe Biden, 80, the clear frontrunner for the Democrats’ nomination and Donald Trump, 76, moving back into the lead again in latest polls of Republican voters.
HALEY, 51, IS LOOKING FOR A HOT-BUTTON issue, as more candidates prepare to announce that they are running (Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Chris Sununu, Larry Hogan, etc). Haley needs publicity and her not-too-subtle jab at Biden and Trump’s ages has stirred a hornet’s nest.
WHATEVER YOU THINK OF BERNIE SANDERS’ POLITICAL VIEWS, he’s sharp and quick. Not surprisingly, Sanders — who is 81 — blasted the Haley proposal last week as ageism — and she shot back yesterday, stating that Sanders “is exactly the reason we need” the mental test. Ouch!!
REPORTERS AT HALEY RALLIES have interviewed senior citizens in attendance, most of whom resent the idea of a mental test. Many ask — why not test all candidates, not just those who are older than 75?
THIS UPROAR is a major concern of Republican leaders, who rely on election support from seniors, their strongest bloc of voters. And the party has two very old and very powerful senators — Mitch McConnell, 80, and Charles Grassley, 89.
THE INFLUENCE OF OLDER VOTERS was clearly on display earlier this month when Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) abandoned his idea to require Congress to re-authorize Social Security and Medicare every five years. McConnell and other Republicans were aghast at this idea, which generated intense opposition from seniors.
HALEY’S ARGUMENT OVERLOOKS the likelihood that an age limit probably would require an amendment to the Constitution, which only has minimum age limits: 35 for the presidency, 30 for the Senate and 25 for the House.
CONSIDERING ALL THE TROUBLE in the world — the Ukraine war, crumbling U.S.-China relations, a threatened U.S. debt default — the issue of age limits seems trivial. But there’s a serious message from Haley that resonates with younger voters: it’s time for a generational change.
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