For the President and Hopefuls, Age Is More Than Just a Number



They say you should never ask a woman her age, but what about a politician?


A few weeks ago, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suffered from a heart attack. At 78 years old, Sanders has been endlessly campaigning through the states over the last few months. Now, at such an old age, it’s a miracle that Sanders is able to keep up with the physical trials of the campaign trail.

But how long can sanders withstand the campaign rigor? Even if he is able to deal with  the pressure, can he handle the trials of the presidency?

Being the president requires you to be a quick thinker, especially during times of crisis. Research has shown that at age 60, the frontal lobe and the hippocampus begin to shrink. Interestingly enough, these are the areas responsible for higher cognitive thinking and the encoding of new memories, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Besides the frontal lobe and the hippocampus, the entire brain also begins to shrink when we age.

Of course, this is detrimental to both Warren and Biden alike as they are both older candidates. Biden has repeatedly confused his words onstage, leading people to question his mental capabilities.

Sanders might have been a strong presidential candidate when he was younger, but his ability to carry out the duties of the office today is questionable. The oldest president to date is our current president, Donald Trump, who was 73 years old when he entered office. Sanders will be 79 years old if elected, and if reelected, he will be 83 years old, 10 years older than President Trump.

It might seem a little silly to criticize a candidate based on their age, but in this case, the age affects the future of our country.

Imagine a hypothetical: Sanders is elected president. As president, he will face day to day problems on how to handle issues such as the Middle East, China and Russia. Not to mention, he will also have to fix domestic issues such as healthcare, immigration and unemployment. At 79 years old, Sanders will need to rise to the challenge and solve these issues. However, there is no guarantee that he will react quickly enough, nor is there a guarantee that he’ll be able to come up with effective solutions.

In terms of domestic policy, Sanders has plans to fix some of the deficiencies already present within our system. His policies, however, are very likely to encounter opposition from the Republicans. Is he capable of holding them back? More importantly, will it be possible for him to adapt to new policy challenges? These are the problems that arise from Sanders’s age.

As voters, we should take into account Sanders’ age when placing our ballot. Disregarding the mental incapacities at his age, his physical health should also be a concern. Even after his heart attack, Sanders is still doing pretty well in the polls, polling in at the third highest — candidate among the spread of Democratic candidates. A heart attack should be a massive red flag to voters that this candidate is physically unfit to hold office. If ailment were to befall Sanders while he is in office, the country would be in a weakened state.

A president who is not capable of carrying out the duties of the office signals to other countries that the United States is not operating at its full capacity. In terms of international agreements, Sanders could be manipulated by other leaders. Moreover, a president who is ill can send a message to the markets that the U.S. economy is not doing well. This can lead to an increase in unemployment which obviously has a negative impact on both our economy and the citizens of this country. Even more troubling is our potential to lose economic power in the international market.

A weakened president can also send signals to our enemies, especially China, that the United States’ economy is liable to hit a recession. Besides the economy, an ill president can cause a deadlock in the government as well. Republicans and even Democrats might try to use Sanders’s deteriorating health against him. Then, all the American people get is a government made up of multiple factions all vying for power. Instead of actually governing the people, the government will be holding its own election.

Despite all the obvious signs, some people will still stand by Sanders. They’ll even argue that Sanders will not be backed into a corner by his political opponents nor will he be bullied. That’s not a bad theory, given how well he has been doing in the debates. Fordham students also had some opinions to share about age and the presidency. “I feel that older people tend to not relate to everything going on in our generation, so it might be better to have younger figures in power who can relate to us,” said Hussein Chebli, Gabelli School of Business ’23. Other students share differing opinions on the subject of age. “Age doesn’t matter to me as long as they’re healthy,” said Justin Raclaw Fordham College Lincoln Center ’21. Only time could tell whether Sanders could effectively carry out the duties of the presidency given his current mental and physical state.