A Vote for Younger Presidents

Historically, US Presidents have entered the White House at a median age of 55.

Trump was the oldest ever to become president. If he is re-elected and serves a full second term, he would become the oldest sitting president of all-time (surpassing Reagan in his second term). If Biden is elected, he would become the oldest sitting president of all-time too, on his first day.

We are going the wrong way.

Bernie and Bloomberg were even older than Biden. Warren would have been older than Trump upon election. Of the 7 candidates who won at least 1 delegate in the Democratic Primary, 4 were in their 70s, 1 was in her 60s, and 2 were in their 30s. Isn’t it odd that none of them were in their 40s or 50s? It seems that the ages of our presidential candidates are becoming as polarized as their politics. There is no one in the middle! I want a middle candidate for president in terms of both age and politics.

In terms of approximating an appropriate age, 40s and 50s seem like a reasonable range. Cognitive function is certainly not all that makes a good president but it would seem to be a significant factor. According to a study in Psychological Science, it does not look like anything good happens after 55. Of course, there is something to be said for growing wiser with age and other good arguments of that nature which are totally valid. I should clarify that when I say that nothing good happens after 55, I am stricly speaking in scientific terms of cognitive function for the average person. No offense to my elders (and sorry for calling you elders).

There are other studies that suggest the best age for decision-making and leadership tends to be during a person’s 50s. Of course, there are many exceptions. This is not an exact science applicable to every person by any means. Still, it seems like reasonable enough support to justify a solid range in which being too young or too old should almost never be an issue.

Politics completely aside, the age range of recent candidates like Yang (45), O’Rourke (47), Cruz (49), Rubio (49), Booker (51), and Harris (55) seems to be an appropriate one. They are all between 45 and 55 which presents an even narrower ranger than what I previously defined as 40s and 50s. Again, I am not saying that this is a range that our president needs to be within by any means, but it seem like a good age range to be within nonetheless. I may have issues with any or all of these candidates listed above but in no case are any of my top concerns in any way related to their ages. Same goes for Kanye (43).

It is helpful also to think about the best leaders our world has to offer outside of politics. I think it is safe to assume that the most successful companies tend to have some of the most successful CEOs.

Here are the ages of the CEOs of the 7 largest companies in the world:

  • Microsoft’s Satya Nadella (52)
  • Apple’s Tim Cook (59)
  • Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (56)
  • Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai (47)
  • Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang (48)
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (36)
  • Tencent’s Ma Huateng (48)

The median age of those world-leading CEOs is 48 and the average is 50. Let us add Elon Musk into the mix for good measure. The man who is revolutionizing the auto industry and sending Americans to space is 48. Coincidentally, I would argue the president should be leading both of those efforts.

The point I am making is that we should not be debating the mental fitness of our candidates based on age. That does not mean that I would never vote for someone in their 70s. I just wish I had an electable option not to. Candidates in their early 30s and late 60s generally seem a bit young and old to me for the role of president, respectively, but I would certainly vote for the right candidate at 35 or 65, and even someone in their 80s if that individual candidate seemed great to me. I do not want to be written off as an ageist for having written this and if that is not a term yet I am sure that it will be soon. Just because I would generally want my football team’s quarterback to be in his 20s or early 30s doesn’t mean I would not prefer Tom Brady in his 40’s to most of the other quarterbacks in the league. It seems to me that 40s and 50s are good years of age to be had by the person in the most powerful position in the world, The President of the United States of America.