OPED: The Time for Age and Term Limits Is Now

vectorfusionart / shutterstock.com
vectorfusionart / shutterstock.com

For decades now, the more seasoned or older generation has made up the lion’s share of politicians. Placed there by friends and allies in power, many are there simply for the pay, benefits, and insider information. As the “career” that makes more millionaires by percentage than any other, they are incredibly populated by senior citizens.

Long thought of as have seen so much, they would have the answers for making things better, these relics now in office are instead putting themselves first and leaving the younger generations holding the bag. In a poll conducted between September 5th and 8th, CNB News/YouPoll found out 77% of all Americans are in favor of a maximum age for elected officials. 76% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans surveyed supported the idea.

80-year-old President Joe Biden and 81-year-old Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are showing rampant signs of aging. Even as most conservatives put their belief behind 77-year-old former President Donald Trump, many question if he can hold it together through a full second term. All age groups stayed between 77% and 78% approval for age limits.

70 has been pegged with 45% believing that is the “golden” number for election. Next up was 60 years with 22%, 80 with 18%, and finally 8% pegged it as low as 50. As it sits, over 1/3 of US Senators are over 70, including Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is 90.

Of the concerns for those beyond 75, responders cited being out of touch with 80% and their capability to perform their jobs with 78%. On the positive end, 68% believe they have helpful experience, and 52% believe they help provide committee seniority. While they make up a sizeable amount of the Senate, their usefulness is quickly being challenged and put up as a problem. They don’t bring the fire and the quest for change that many were famous for in their youth.

Instead, much like a disgraced C-list actor, they coast on through, propelled by stories of former greatness. Spoken with the reverence typically reserved for those who perished at their peak, these antiquities roam the halls of elected officials, many seemingly unaware of what is going on or how to do things the right way.

Getting fresh blood into elected office is never easy, but it is something that we the American people need more of, and at a rapid pace. Old stories and reminiscing about seeing the talking picture show and having a moon pie for a nickel are cute. It’s fun to think back on those times. Then it becomes incredibly depressing as you realize that “Night At The Museum” is real, and it’s writing foreign policy in Washington or deciding to waste money on incentives for corporations that destroy your local streams.

Perhaps it is time for the seniors to simply have a seat at a different table.

Much like Thanksgiving in many homes had a “kids table,” perhaps we need a “Seniors Congress” or “Seniors Senate.” Let them have their voice heard and their advice taken under advisement. However, they should only be there on an advisory basis and have no voting power, as it’s not needed at this point like their tales of experience are.

A panel of advisors isn’t something the US has gone with before, but it is a compromise that would retain democracy and still allow the seniors to be heard. It would allow them to age out gracefully. For those having Biden or McConnell moments, it would be happening less in public, so less humiliation for them.

No matter what decision we as a nation come to, one thing is beyond certain; it’s time for age limits and to get them out of office before they do more damage than they’ve already done. A change like this won’t be easy, and many will try to decry ageism. The fact of the matter is though, after a certain age, the mind isn’t as sharp, and they just aren’t as politically savvy as they once were. It’s time we stop feeling bad and start helping this great nation.