There’s no denying it: the two likely presidential nominees in 2024 are old.
When either President Joe Biden is re-elected, or ex-president Donald Trump is voted back into the White House, they will break the existing record held by the former of becoming the oldest person to ever be elected President of the United States. Biden will be 81 on election day, Trump 78.
To quote a close friend’s recent satirical remarks about President Biden’s age: “I want a young president like Donald Trump.”
Even on Instagram, comedy accounts are frequently mocking the pair’s ages. One account I follow has even started promoting t-shirts reading “ANYONE UNDER 80, 2024” to its followers. Hardly an advocacy of former president Trump, but more of an indication that many Americans and young people in particular feel that the likely Democratic and Republican nominees are old for the presidency.
Granted, the President’s age is a focal criticism from conservatives, and even a concern among a majority of Democrats. Left-wing media outlets rarely criticize Trump’s age – they have far easier targets with the former president facing four indictments.
However, is it really fair to criticize one candidate for his elderliness when his adversary is only three years younger?
Donald Trump’s Aging Habits
I disagree with the notion that Donald Trump’s behavior stems from his age. As his prominence in U.S. politics continues, Trump’s certainly taken a more aggressive stance, which has led to him receiving four indictments, three of which arose from his actions after election day in November 2020. That said, I feel this is more to do with his relentlessness to win (he’s a businessman at heart) rather than deteriorating mental capability.
Assuming a second Trump presidency from January 20, 2025, Trump will be 82 when he leaves office – the same as Biden in such a scenario, albeit the Republican would leave office around six months older than his predecessor.
Looking back at his first campaign eight years ago, Trump’s voice is noticeably raspier, and his energy seems to be lower. He’s still the outspoken Republican underdog his supporters know and love – albeit for different reasons this time – but Trump is clearly older as he continues his third, serious attempt at the presidency.
It’s A Complex Issue
The issue of age in American politics almost implies there should be a cutoff point, which is another debate entirely; a desire for generational change differs from capability to perform a job. Bob Kerrey, a former senator who recently resigned, told the New York Times that he “had [his] chance” and opted to resign, citing Nancy Pelosi who stepped down as Democratic leader of the House last year.
Speaking as a 23-year-old who would love to see a young candidate elected leader of the free world, it’s hard to justify an unconstitutional age limit. If a president is deemed mentally capable, they should be allowed to govern.
After all, age is just a number.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.