The Worrisome Issue Of Age In The Presidential Campaign Of 2020

The issue of age will rear its head in the 2020 Presidential campaign, whether one likes it or not.

We have five Presidential contenders who will be in their 70s or reach that decade while in office, and two who will reach their 80s early in the term.

The ages of these five contenders at the time of inauguration are as follows:

Bernie Sanders, 79 and four months; Joe Biden, 78 and two months; Elizabeth Warren, 71 years and seven months; Jay Inslee, 69 years and eleven months; John Hickenlooper, 68 years and eleven months.

Either Sanders or Biden would be older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office, and Sanders would be older than Donald Trump if Trump finished a second term, with Biden only three months younger than Trump would be at the end of a second term.

Warren, along with Sanders and Biden, would be the oldest first term inaugurated President, nearly a year older than Trump when he took the oath in 2017.

Inslee would be with just a few days younger than Ronald Reagan when he took the oath in 1981, with Hickenlooper just a year younger than Reagan was, so either still would be the third oldest President on Inauguration Day.

When one considers how Reagan seemed to be declining mentally in his second term, and that Trump seems to many to have mental issues with his behavior and actions, one has to wonder whether Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden reaching their 80s early in the term is not a danger in theory. Also, since Warren would be in her mid 70s at the end of the term, and Inslee the same age as Reagan when he ran in 1984, and Hickenlooper only one year younger than Reagan or Inslee, one has to be concerned about the potential for mental deterioration, let alone the danger of physical health crises.

Few world leaders historically have served into their late 70s or early 80s in a high stress position, as a chief executive. Two exceptions are Winston Churchill of Great Britain, who left power past age 81, and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who was well past 87 when he left office. Only Adenauer would be older than Sanders or Biden at the end of a second term in the Oval Office.

Of course, there have been Kings and Emperors who were in office beyond the age of 80, as with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and recently retired Japanese Emperor Akihito, but neither has had real constitutional authority over government policies.

So the issue of age cannot be ignored as a worrisome issue, sorry to say!