How old is too old to be making decisions for the United States?
Image c/o The Washington Post
By Madison Sciba
The oldest member of the United States’ Congress is 90 years old. California Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein has been in congress since 1992, has been in politics since 1969, and is still responsible for passing laws. Another senator, Republican Charles Grassley is 89 and has been in the Senate for 42 years. There are 20 members of congress who are over the age of 80. That is 15 years past the US’s average retirement age of 65. The past two presidents have been over the age of 70 when they first took office. That’s five years after they would have retired if they were in any other line of work. So why are we still allowing these elderly grandparents to hold the most important and influential roles in our government?
Any gen z or millennial knows the struggle of having to teach their grandparent how to use an iPhone, now imagine someone the same age as that grandparent in charge of making legislation surrounding technology. Right now, technology is advancing rapidly and our laws need to be able to keep up with it. There is very little, if any, government regulation on the use of AI and other advanced forms of technology. However, we are living in a world where those kinds of regulations are necessary. Yet those who are responsible for passing these regulations are decades behind the rest of the country when it comes to understanding this technology.
Back when the founding fathers were forming the government and writing the Constitution, they couldn’t have imagined that there would be people in their 80s still responsible for the government. Since the 1990s, the average age of members of congress has increased dramatically. There has been less turnover in elections, with congress members like Feinstein and California representative Nancy Pelosi who have been running for re-election and winning for decades. In an ideal world, these politicians would recognize that they are too old to serve and they would stop running for re-election and make way for a younger generation of politicians. Sadly, this is not the case for American politicians.
The solution seems simple enough: since there is an age minimum for congress, make an age maximum. That is easier said than done. The people who would need to make this age limit are the same people who would be harmed by the implementation of an age maximum. Until our politicians become more self aware and start caring more about what is best for the United States and not their own agenda, then maybe age limits can be passed. That, however, is extremely unlikely, so it is now up to us as the voters to vote these antiquated grandmas and grandpas out of congress and bring about a new, younger generation of congressmen and women.
Madison Sciba '24,