Huskies debate: Can politicians be too old?
Are our politicians too old? With our current president, Joe Biden, aka Sleepy Joe, these questions are being raised frequently. People have been questioning his choices and say he is too old to be making decisions that affect a nation. However, it’s not just him. Biden’s likely opponent in 2024, Donald Trump, is almost as old as Biden, and Senators Mitch McConnel and Dianne Feinstein have been urged to retire. We had a conversation with two WHS teachers to see what they had to say.
Mr. Hagmann, an English teacher, agrees that we need younger leaders, saying, “ .. the typical retiring age is somewhere between 65 to 70 at the latest…it’s not that I don’t think that [people over 70] could have valuable thoughts, but I don’t know if they should be the ones making hard decisions.” He brings up a common area where people tend to be conflicted about whether old people should make big decisions, as they are wise but past the retirement age. However, Mr. Elkin, an art teacher at Washington, says that “people should be judged on a case by case basis. Some people are 80 years old and super sharp and super with it and some people that are 80 years old are completely out of it.”
Mr Hagmann goes on to say that you can’t be too picky on age, because at the end of the day there are typically two choices in an election and you have to pick the better of those two. There is also the question of age affecting one’s capability to perform the job. Mr Hagmann says that he “think[s] there’s a small window of time where you are most suitable for making decisions, considering a large scale decision that affects a lot of people, because I feel like you do have to have a certain level of life experience, but you also can’t be too far removed from certain things.” He added that the early 40s to mid 60s would be that fixed window.
Mr. Elkin also looked at the age question from the opposite side. In his words, “I know young people that are totally immature and I would never want them in office. And there are other young people that are more mature than me and could handle it.”
On the subject of young people, Mr Hagmann says it’s great that the newer generation is getting into politics and world issues, as “there’s a lot of people who don’t take the time to take a look at what’s actually happening and read information, and if the younger generation is motivated for that, then great.” He believes that, “it’s not so much whether you’re younger or older, it’s people that are uninformed voting and making decisions.” Mr. Elkin mentioned that in Berkeley they are trying to make the legal age to vote 16, and that “young people should care about crucial issues that they could be making a difference in.” Generation Z at Washington High School is the future of this world, and we need to start looking at the news and learning about what’s going on around us, to truly better the future for the generations to come.
Are politicians today too old? Seeing as the oldest Senators are nearing 90 years of age, along with the average age for members of the House being close to 60, it is only justified that this question has been widely debated in recent years. Especially after older politicians such as Mitch McConnell and Dianne Feinstein experienced multiple health scares due to old age, there has been increasing public concern about their ability to serve in the government. These events have raised difficult but important questions for society today: whether politicians are too old, and if so, what actions need to be taken to combat this issue? On a broader scale, one might venture to ask whether the contributions of older generations are pertinent in today’s dynamic society. These questions and more were explored in interviews with Washington High School freshmen Nate O’Dowd and Jasneet Kaur, who provide interesting takes on the issue at hand.
The general consensus between both interviewees is that politicians, indeed, are “too old,” as the two students believe it necessary to have younger voices in politics to represent the interests and skills of young people today. Despite this agreement, the question of how to correct this becomes a bit more challenging. Some might argue that implementing a maximum age limit would be an appropriate solution, but this begs the question of what age would be reasonable. Nate O’Dowd suggests “retirement age (65+) to help keep the younger generation in mind,” while Jasneet Kaur believes that a “young but not too young” age would be closer to 45; with an age gap of 20 years, then, it is clear, that the implementation of an age maximum is a topic of controversy.
Alternatively, the situation might be improved by getting the current generation more involved in politics. Jasneet feels strongly on this point as she believes that “Some of the younger generation don’t pay much attention to political issues… But I think we can influence younger people to vote to make them engage in political activity. We can refresh the Senate often so that younger people have chances.”
The need for young people to engage in politics is important to the two students as they believe that society has undergone much evolution since older politicians’ primes. As a result they may be “out of touch,” as Nate O’Dowd puts it, with the interests or circumstances of today’s generation. Even so, Nate also feels that we can still learn from older politicians and generations as “they may have more experience with things other than technology,” citing “specific circumstances (like war)” for which “they may have more knowledge from experiencing it first-hand, or being around when the war happened.” Although their experiences can be different, therefore, one could argue that they can provide valuable lessons in the ever-changing world today. Wherever one stands on the issue, the fact remains that the state of politics is not getting any younger; consequently it remains to be seen whether there will be shifts in legislation or public perspective regarding this issue in coming times.
Are politicians nowadays considered too old for office? With our new generation, are more senior politicians able to keep up? People are starting to question if politicians are able to lead effectively in their old age. We will hear from two WHS juniors about how they see this ongoing debate and discussion.
An 11th-grade student, Nora Lau, believes that politicians are too old to represent the public. In an interview, she states that “Older politicians may have different views on what younger people think that makes it hard for them to relate to the younger generation.” She says that older politicians may not be able to fully grasp younger generations’ concerns and aspirations. With their generational experience, the time that they lived in may be too different, leading to a disconnect between the policies they advocate and the needs of their younger constituents.
Nora Lau goes on to say, “Even though older people may have more wisdom doesn’t mean that that [their] wisdom could be used in the present world since things are so different now.” She suggests that the fundamental shifts in the world’s dynamics could mean that “Wisdom” gained from older generations will not always apply to the present.
We also spoke to Nicolas Segura, a junior who states that “Senior politicians come from a different generation [which] disconnects them from relating with younger audiences.” Segura mentions the generational gap that we have and how it hinders their ability to fully comprehend and represent what younger generations need.
“Senior politicians can try to better understand what we need but their adaptability to adapt to society changing can’t always be correct since they have different experiences,” Segura says.
Politics are often spoken about in a certain age group, but many young adults feel that there is not enough room for them in the conversation. As we all evolve and change in various ways, so does the world around us, from its environment to the laws and the way those laws are made.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to hear the opinions of younger minds on the question, “should politicians have an age limit?” Armando Canales, a senior at Washington, says, “I personally believe that there should be an age limit.” When asked whether his concerns were about health or about the mind-set of older people, Armando said, “I think the maturity of the politician’s mind counts because if you are not quick and smart about decisions you might be behind, so yes, I believe that the mentality has more to do with being a fair and concise politician.” Throughout the interviews, we came to the conclusion that even though wisdom does come with age, there should be a variety of ages included in political discussions. This is why it’s important for all who are able to vote to be well informed on how to make their opinions heard.
Another senior, Alexander Aguayo, said, “[Politicians] have to be quick-thinking and thinking out of the box and not afraid to take risks.” A big question is, could an age limit for politicians truly make changes in the country if this proposal were to be taken into consideration? In Alexander’s opinion, “I really think that maybe the whole country will see their first ever young president one day,” adding that he believes this would fix many of the problems we see today.
Aaushi Singh is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in New York in the borough of Queens, but moved to Fremont early in life and has lived there ever since. This will be her first year at the Hatchet, where she hopes to cover topics such as art, mental health, and music. Aaushi’s hobbies consist of reading, making art, and writing. Although unsure of her future plans, Aaushi is considering studying architecture or civil engineering.
Angie Mendoza is currently a senior at Washington High School, born and raised in the Bay Area and surrounded by the Fremont community. With this being Angie’s very first year at the Hatchet, she is excited to be able to have the opportunity to write about events taking place in the community and the new ideas that will be brought to life in Fremont and Washington High School. In her free time Angie enjoys being able to go out and take in the fresh air while listening to her top music by her favorite artists. Aside from being “out and about” she’s also delighted by her time spent at home, whether it be taking naps or spending her time painting and drawing. Her future plans consist of being able to graduate high school and attending Ohlone college on a two year plan and major in psychology to fulfill her desires to become a psychologist in the near future.
Gillian Kaplan is a senior at Washington High School, born and raised in the Bay Area. This is her first year working for The Hatchet. She is interested in reporting on film and music and working in The Hatchet’s video production department. Her hobbies include drumming, reading, listening to music, going to concerts, and taking care of her houseplants. In the future, she hopes to go to film school and study directing, writing, and acting for the screen.
Hanya Hussain is a senior at Washington High School. She was born in Hayward, but has lived in Fremont all her life. This is her first year at the paper and she's really excited to participate in the Hatchet. She's interested in writing about other people and their perspectives in life. She is a cheerleader and loves to hang out with her friends in her free time. She also likes to take walks and go on hikes whenever she can. In college, she wants to study criminal justice.
Jim Mejorada is a junior at Washington High School. He was born and raised in the Philippines for 11 years and moved to Fremont CA in 2018. This is Jim’s first year on the paper. He likes writing about space, games, sports and nature. His favorite hobbies are playing games, skateboarding, going outdoors and exploring random areas. His future plans are to possibly go to college and do his best to be wealthy then live comfortably.