Washington (Caasimada Online) – In an era often characterized by sharp divisions, a recent AP-NORC poll surprisingly found Americans largely unified on one issue: the role of age in political leadership.
The survey, conducted between August 10 and 14, 2023, revealed that 77% of Americans believe President Joe Biden is too old to serve effectively for another four years.
Interestingly, this sentiment transcends party lines: 89% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats shared this view.
“Age discrimination may not be legal in the workplace, but it certainly is prevalent among the President’s employers—the American people,” says Eric Dezenhall, a 60-year-old corporate scandal-management consultant who served in Ronald Reagan’s White House.
While Biden, who often jests about his age to mitigate concerns, struggles with this public perception, former President Donald Trump seems mainly immune to such worries.
Approximately 50% of Americans feel Trump is too old for the office, revealing a stark partisan divide. Democrats are significantly more likely to raise age as a disqualifying factor for Trump than Republicans.
Dezenhall explains this divergence: “Biden appears compromised by age-related conditions, even to those who like him. On the flip side, Trump’s negatives aren’t necessarily age-related. He’s been the same ranting character for almost eight decades.”
The push for younger leadership
Age-related concerns are driving public discourse about America’s political future.
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults advocate for age limits on candidacy for president and Congress, while 67% support a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices.
Despite this trend, it’s unlikely that we’ll see sweeping changes soon. “With elders mostly running the show and the Constitution to contend with, don’t expect an age revolution anytime soon,” Dezenhall adds.
But why is there a growing preference for younger leadership? Noah Burden, a 28-year-old communications consultant in Alexandria, Virginia, believes it’s a matter of shifting values and perspectives.
“The older generation represents a sense of the country that isn’t accurate. It can be dangerous,” he says.
Ageism or realism? Experts weigh in
S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor and aging expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, finds the focus on age disheartening.
“It’s classic ageism. The age of the individual is irrelevant; it’s their policies that matter,” he argues. Olshansky further suggests that Biden and Trump are likely “super agers,” functioning highly despite their age.
The debate on age versus experience remains contentious. For Alyssa Baggio, a 32-year-old Democratic-leaning independent, the question of age was always a concern.
“I don’t think [Biden] ‘s done a terrible job, but I believe that’s because he surrounds himself with experienced people, unlike Trump,” she says.
Ultimately, the American electorate is wrestling with complex attitudes toward age, contrasting it with other qualities like experience, vigor, and suitability for the highest office in the land.
What’s evident is the growing appetite for fresher faces and new ideas, something both parties will need to consider as they approach the 2024 Presidential election.