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The aging presidential candidate pool is frustrating for young voters (Op-Ed)

The 2024 presidential election is picking up speed, and with it, the classic debates that have settled around what is truly best for the U.S. for the next four years and beyond. 

Scrutinizing candidates on virtually every level is to be expected, and, arguably, needed, but there’s been one particular age-old question surfacing during the most recent election cycles:

Are the candidates that we choose to nominate and vote for simply too elderly to serve in office? 

This is a very complex topic on both sides of the aisle. 

On one hand, one could argue that decades of life experience, especially spent as a public official, provides invaluable knowledge that is needed to serve in the most important position in the nation. Well-connected individuals who have been around long enough to witness changing economies, international relations, environmental concerns, and social issues are more equipped to handle these matters as they continue to evolve in modern times. And, admittedly, the public tends to hold more trust and legitimacy in familiar faces, especially those who have a well-worn seat in Washington D.C. 

Alternatively, those concerned with our ever-growing population and candidate pool claim that these individuals are out of touch with society and are unable or simply unwilling to adjust to modern social issues. As well, while long-standing public service can provide useful networking and opportunities to create meaningful progress, more than ever we are discovering a level of corruption and bias in those we trust to serve honestly and justly. 

More severely, accusations and/or observations of cognitive decline have been cited as reason enough to impose term limits; for example, not allowing those who have exceeded the federal age of retirement to run for office.

The baby boomer generation, long-held as the largest and most influential in the nation, has begun to peter out as millennials have grown to occupy the majority of the workforce and households in the U.S. The requirement for someone to run for this position is to merely be a United States-born citizen who is at least 35 years old. We must ask ourselves why we have strayed so severely from this requirement, choosing instead to nominate and elect candidates who are nearing to triple this number. 

As spokespeople of the American public, it would be sensible for us to begin to elect individuals who truly reflect this new majority, investing in the future of the nation while creating legislation that supports and represents the needs of all generations.


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