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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Op-ed: My grandfather’s peers shouldn’t be president

Kelly Thomas
A ballot dropbox located outside City Hall in 2020. Members of the American public have expressed concern over the ages of presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump, who are 81 years old and 77 years old, respectively.

My grandfather might be the healthiest 81-year-old I’ve ever met, but that does not mean he is fit to hold any political office in this country. Aging comes with an array of side effects, often including memory loss. This is not a process to be ashamed of; however, those entrusted with the power to govern should be deemed astute. 

Just like my grandfather, current President and Democratic party candidate Joe Biden is 81 years old. Not too far behind, former President and Republican party candidate Donald Trump is 77 years old.

With the advent of the 2024 presidential election, Biden’s age has been a “hot topic” of sorts in the media. From forgetting when he served as vice president to mixing up the names of European leaders, the American public is concerned with his memory lapses, and so is the special counsel that recently labeled Biden’s memory as “hazy” and “poor.” 

To reinforce this sentiment, a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 86% of Americans believe Biden is too old to hold presidential office. Further, 59% believe both Biden and Trump are too old to hold office. I agree with both majorities. 

However, my reasoning for why these candidates are too old for office extends beyond the potential memory problems that come with old age.

As society progresses, so do our values. Social change is identifiable throughout history – whether it be the legalization of same-sex marriage or the outlawing of segregation – our social values do not typically align with the generations that precede us. Old age impedes politicians’ ability to understand what the younger generation cares about — they simply grew up with a different understanding of the world.

With this in mind, in what world would 80-year-old men properly represent the values of our population, especially the younger generation? According to 2022 data from the Census Bureau, the average age in America is 38 years old, meaning there’s quite a gap between our soon-to-be presidential nominees and the population they will represent. 

This age problem extends beyond the presidency a fair amount of congressional members are older than 70 years old. The very politicians who dictate what issues are addressed in Congress aren’t very representative of our country either. Their age becomes evident when they lift a flip phone in 2022, like Sen. Chuck Schumer did while on the Senate floor.

Researchers are not in agreement as to when memory and cognitive decline begin. Some research supports the idea that cognitive performance begins to decline in an adult’s 50s, while others assert that cognitive decline most often occurs at age 70 or higher

It seems like most people agree that those in their late 70s and early 80s are not as sharp as they once were. The United States is one of the world’s most powerful and influential countries, and I would hope that our leader would be contributing to this strength, not causing doubt among the public when he falls onstage or has a lapse in memory. We should want the leader of our executive branch and our congressional representatives to be at their strongest, not older than the average age of retirement

Since research can’t agree on a specific age where memory and cognition declines, I believe the solution lies in ensuring politicians are representative of the population they serve. With congressional members and presidents closer in age to those they represent, they will have a better understanding of the issues at the top of voters’ minds. 

As we quickly approach the 2024 presidential election with two candidates old enough to be any Northeastern student’s grandparents, I believe that an age maximum must be set to ensure that politicians are younger, allowing them to be more in-touch with society and not face memory problems. 

Many Americans share the belief that the presidential candidates are too old and the best way to address this is by creating a law that will keep grandpa-aged men from running. In fact, this isn’t a progressive opinion — a Pew Research Center poll found that 79% of the public favors an age maximum for elected officials. 

While Americans disagree on all political topics, I would place my money on agreement over the need for in-touch politicians, a description I would not give to the 77 and 81-year-old men vying for our presidency. 


Editor’s Note: This story was edited March 14 to correct former President Trump’s age. 

Alexis Algazy is a second-year journalism and political science major, and deputy city editor for the News. She can be reached at [email protected]

About the Contributors
Alexis Algazy
Alexis Algazy, City Editor
Alexis Algazy is a second-year journalism and political science major with a public relations minor. This is her second semester serving as the deputy city editor, and she is looking forward to extending city and political coverage. This semester Alexis is doing media relations at BCG for co-op. Follow her on X @alexisalgazy for article updates.
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