COLUMN: Age is not what defines a good president


Ian Palacios

We are dissatisfied. Each president fails to meet our standards year after year. But why?

“They’re values are outdated,” people object. “They don’t see things the same way we do.” And their solution? Create an age limit on the presidency.

Initially, this might seem plausible. First, many of our candidates’ values seem to not align with the popular opinions of the younger generation. “63% of US adults say the government has the responsibility to provide healthcare coverage for all,” a Pew research poll from 2020 shows.                                     Despite this, it has been rare to see many candidates focus on this topic.

Secondly, with old age comes a higher risk of issues with mental and physical health. Approximately 5 to 8 percent of people will suffer from dementia by age 65 and many others will suffer from heart disease. And though possibly unsubstantiated, many allegations are made accusing Trump, Biden, and formerly running Hillary Clinton of mental decline and physical.

With this in mind, we can see why people might be skeptical of electing older candidates. Their values are outdated, and their health is deteriorating. So, many argue, let’s prevent these people from running by making an age cap.

I believe we have reasons to doubt this position. Ultimately, a candidate’s age is irrelevant in determining one’s capacity to perform well in office.

So, why might we think this?

First, it isn’t so clear whether the values of older candidates are outdated in the first place. We can often come under the impression that what our group believes is the correct group and that those who disagree with us are simply wrong.

But we aren’t the only citizens. Whether or not the values that preceded us are correct is irrelevant. We live in a democracy, and those who hold different values than us have an equal say to vote. Since many of the U.S. citizens have the same values of the running candidates, it isn’t so clear how “outdated” our candidates’ values really are.

Second, even if a candidate’s values are outdated or if their health is poor, the responsibility is on the voters, not the government. If people with poor health or bad values are getting elected, U.S. citizens need to elect better candidates, not arbitrarily deny someone because of their age.

Third, even if a candidate’s values are outdated or if their health is poor, it isn’t a result purely of their age. It’s a result of their own idiosyncratic beliefs and health.

Consider for example, Bernie Sanders who would have been 78 if elected in the 2020 election. His values strongly correlate with those of young adults, despite his age.

Similarly, we can imagine a candidate running with great health and progressive values.

What this shows is that age is not what is important.

What is important is a candidate’s health and values specific to them.

To deny a citizen the right to vote purely due to age is discriminatory and would cause more problems than it would fix.

Ian Palacios is a junior English and philosophy major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or