from the world's big
10 reasons there should be a maximum age limit to run for president
Why the effects of aging are detrimental to being the U.S. president.
- As there's a minimum age, there should be a maximum one.
- Aging causes decline in numerous cognitive skills as shown in numerous studies.
- Older candidates are less likely to support new ideas, technologies and societal changes.
Look, this is not meant to be ageist. But as we have a minimum age to become president – 35 – there should be a maximum age too. Why 35 anyway? Who determined that 35 is the age you have mature enough ideas and know enough about the world? So a younger person is not able to have good ideas before then?
Of course that age limit comes from the founding fathers who drafted the Constitution. They somewhat arbitrarily calculated that 35 was the age you'd achieve competency in life and be ready to rule a nation.
What should be the top age limit to run for president? For one the retirement age is 66 - maybe that's a good cutoff point after which we shouldn't have to contend with people trying to take on what is likely the hardest and most demanding job in the world.
To look at this further, here are top 10 reasons for why we should have a maximum age to become president –
1. Mental sharpness
As a society, we value age. Older people are supposed to have the knowledge and the experience. But is that enough in a position that requires one to react to thousands of variables in an increasingly-complex world where missteps can lead to global catastrophe?
A 2015 study carried out by MIT's Joshua Hartshorne and Laura Germine from Harvard found the different ages when our brains are their utmost. The majority of mental processing skills like memory, pattern recognition, and reacting quickly peaked from around the late teens into the 20s. Other components of such 'fluid intelligence" peaked as late as 40. Certain life skills like the ability to recall people's emotional states were at their strongest in the 40s and 50s. General knowledge and comprehension peaked by 50. Vocabulary, which is a measure of accumulated intelligence, actually peaked into the late 60s and early 70s.
When does the brain's power start to decline? After reaching their full potential in the 20s, the processing functions like strategic memory that helps recalling names and numbers start to decline during that same decade. Tasks found to be sensitive to aging, getting worse over time, include simple and choice reaction times (RTs), tasks involving working memory, tests of episodic memory as well as spatial and reasoning abilities, mental rotation, and visual-search performance. Some studies show that a third of older people struggle with declarative memory (retrieving facts or events) while about a fifth do as well on cognitive tests as 20-year-olds.
One big cognitive ability that has been proven in various studies to decline with aging is the ability to pay attention to more than one task at once. "Although dual-tasking is already difficult enough for younger adults, it apparently is even more difficult for older adults," states the 2017 paper by psychologists Eric Ruthruff and Mei-Ching Lien. How much more difficult? A 2015 review by psychologist Paul Verhaeghen found an average dual-task "cost" of 215 ms for older adults while just "106 ms" for younger adults (2015). That's more than twice as slow.
It goes without saying (but let's say it anyway) that being a president is perhaps the epitome of a task-heavy job in a very multi-faceted country.
Besides, the various age-related effects on the brain, there are always a plethora of age-specific illnesses. Aging is a key risk factor for most common neurodegenerative diseases, specifically dementias like Alzheimer's disease, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease.
Older people have a lot of personal and historical baggage to contend with. Donald Trump (73) certainly lived his lifetime's worth, with a portfolio of scandals involving bankruptcies, porn stars, sexism, violence-inciting racism, not to mention with what was it - oh, yes, collusion with a foreign power.
Most candidates with a long life story come with both the good and bad experiences that have shaped them. Some would see in that an accumulation of wisdom. Others – defining characteristics that shape the character and worldview and the relationships that the person has to respond to. Experience is best when it allows you to create something new or easily respond to situations using your gathered knowledge. It's worst when it is a force that makes you beholden to fringe special interests, blackmail, business needs and scandals. In other words - the swamp.
3. Obsolete ideas
Older people make decisions that benefit other older people. They also tend to be more conservative by default and reflect worldviews that may have been prevalent at some point of their lives but often are no longer so.
Case in the point, the recent revelation of a racist exchange between Presidents Reagan and Nixon recorded on tape. In the phone call, the then-California Governor Ronald Reagan dials up President Richard Nixon at the White House to joke about African delegates to the United Nations, who did not vote the way the U.S. wanted.
"Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did," Reagan said. "To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!"
Hearing this, Nixon laughs raucously.
You can listen to the conversation yourself here.
At some point in history, that kind of talk would not have offended many, while now it's certainly viewed as completely unacceptable. At least publicly. An older candidate is more likely to represent attitudes or ideas that are no longer in step with the majority of the country.
Add to this the researched fact that while remote memory remains relatively stable in older people, formation of recent memories declines as a faculty. That means it's easier to recall how it was in the "good old days" versus being able to incorporate contemporary information and experiences.
But what about Bernie Sanders (77)? Certainly, one can't accuse the Senator from Vermont for going the easy and expected route as he advocates for new programs that have never been instituted in America, like Medicare for All.
On the flip side, it's hard not to see championing of socialism, a societal approach that most people associate with failed 20th century policies as a somewhat quixotic throwback – even if Sanders always tries to differentiate his socialism as something more modern (or Scandinavian).
4. Inability to accept change
Much of Trump's presidency seems like a throwback to ideas that were socially relevant at least six or seven decades ago if not all the way back to 1800s. Change, especially change in society, is not the domain you want to explore more with age. But change is also paramount for the health of a democracy.
"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched," wrote Thomas Jefferson. "But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.
5. Being out of step with technology
Technology changes happen too quickly nowadays for older people to keep up. Yet tech is a defining feature of our life, influencing all aspects. How can a grandfather president who doesn't know and understand new technologies have anything meaningful to say about them?
This is not just about the latest smartphones. What about our country's security? As the current president showed, who was elected in part courtesy of Internet-related fraud, an older leader may not understand or even care to understand how to keep our country safe in the cyber world.
A great illustration of the tech knowledge gap exhibited by the political leaders came during the infamous exchange between Senator Orrin Hatch and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Hatch seemed to have little idea how Facebook worked.
6. Being out of step with culture
While a rapping grandma makes for funny scenes in Adam Sandler movies, you don't look to senior citizens for what's hot on the street. It would be hard to to top the cultural connection President Obama, elected when he was 47, had with the nation. You may think it's unnecessary to know how and why the country expresses itself through its arts and culture. That's how we get documents like the 2019 Trump budget, which seeks to eliminate funding for the arts, public television and libraries.
7. Reverse age discrimination
Older people tend to stick with other older people and look down upon those who are younger as lacking experience or (their) common sense. Case in point, Trump's attacks on AOC and other members of the "Squad". He not only doesn't like their ideas and uses their likes to excite his conflict-hungry base, Trump represents the "Squad" as being silly and impractical and not knowing how the world works.
8. The president won’t survive the term
In a country where the average life expectancy is stuck at 78 (dropping for the third year in a row), the chances are high enough that a president who is elected while already being 70 is not going to survive the term. Why knowingly put the country through such drama?
9. Nostalgia results in stagnation
Older candidates tend to invoke nostalgia, an emotion we enjoy but also should be wary of.
"Make America great again," proclaimed Trump's main slogan, harkening back to some mythical time when America was supposedly "great". It's again as much as saying "I remember, back in my day" while wagging your finger at the whippersnappers on the lawn.
Of course, no such time really existed. And if your standard of progress is some fictional time in the past, it's likely you'll end up with a country tearing itself apart at the seems. It naturally lurches forward, moved by its youth, resourcefulness and the indomitable American spirit. And it shakes and rattles back, like a wounded Godzilla, restrained by the champions of yesteryear.
10. It’s unfair
Older people tend to have an unfair societal advantage. We generally respect the elders. We want to hear their stories, to learn from them. We just don't have to be ruled by them.
While representing just 14.9% of the general population, presidents who are seniors cannot possibly be responsive to everyone's interests. In fact, chances are they care more about the interests of their own segment of the country. It's not rocket science to understand why a person of retirement age would support policies that are aimed at maintaining the status quo and against people and ideas they don't feel comfortable with.
And if you're still afraid that any kind of limit is making ageist assumptions, do away with one altogether. Of course, none of these points matter at the moment, as the Congress full of much older people isn't going to change its laws to allow younger ones more influence. It's notable that the current Congress is one of the oldest Congresses ever, with an average age of 59 (and most leaders in the 70s and 80s).
You might debate whether the U.S., is a true democracy, ruled by elites or secret interests, but it's certainly a gerontocracy. You can ask a person over 60 what that means.
Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."