Instead of worrying about a presidential candidate’s age, focus on their vision for the future – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

As the 2024 U.S. Presidential campaign begins in earnest, it appears a focus will be on a long-overlooked topic – the aging of America.

Does that mean we can expect a debate on the future of Social Security and Medicare, or changes in our system of long-term care services and supports, or the need for more housing which can accommodate older people? Not exactly.

Instead, what we are faced with is a lot of handwringing about whether the two presumptive nominees, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, are suffering from cognitive decline because they will be 81 and 78 years old when the election takes place in November.

The situation is infuriating because the legitimate issue of whether the United States should be led by a new generation is being obscured by obnoxious stereotypical descriptions of older people. The breathless reports of verbal or physical stumbles by either man lead to speculation one or both is suffering from dementia. Biden being tired after flying to Asia and holding a series of high-level meetings or Trump losing focus after speaking for over an hour are taken as signs they are not physically or mentally capable of the demands of being President.

Age itself is no barrier to doing important work. As the population of the United States grows older, more people over the age of 65 are likely to be in the workforce because of either desire or need. And unlike other periods in our history, these older people will not be “stealing” jobs from younger workers.

Demographic changes will increase the need for older workers. But the realities of aging mean some physically demanding jobs already experiencing shortages may not be able to be filled by older workers.

But unlike being a ditch digger, there is no physical reason an older person cannot serve as President of the United States despite it being a high-pressure, high-stress position. The question to ask in the United States in 2024 is whether either of these men have the correct policies and vision for a position deemed the most important in the world and how their age impacts the answer.

A critical part of being President is setting an optimistic future course for the nation. Based on his campaign thus far, this requirement casts Donald Trump in a negative light. His agenda is based on revenge and settling old scores. “Making America Great Again” is a slogan focused on the past, not a vision for the future.

And this is where his age becomes a factor. Like too many people of his generation he spends his time dwelling on a distorted view of the past, exaggerating the positive and ignoring negative aspects such as blatant discrimination. His desire to turn back the clock shows a contempt for progress.

Joe Biden’s age has not prevented him from presenting an agenda focused on a brighter future. His policy proposals recognize the changes occurring in the United States and attempts to address them. But Biden is also a face of the past. He has been in the political arena for over 50 years and carries much of the baggage of those 50 years, both good and bad, with him.

In politics, unfortunately, perception can outweigh reality. Too many voters are unwilling to explore the policy positions of candidates and instead rely on an image of the individual crafted by outside forces. And the perception of Joe Biden is of an old politician who has overstayed his welcome.

Some of this is Biden’s fault. All politicians need a big ego. And Biden’s prevents him from saying he has accomplished what he set out to do (saving the US from four more years of Trump in 2020) and that it is time to turn to a new generation of leaders.

But much of the image of Biden as too old and out of touch has been created by the Fox “News” segment of the media, which far too many Americans rely on for (distorted) information. And other media outlets, craving ratings, have jumped on the bandwagon of questioning the mental capabilities of both candidates simply because of their age.

We should have a debate whether the United States needs Presidential candidates of a younger generation to better articulate a vision for the future of the nation. Voters should be offered a choice and an opportunity to have candidates debate issues before making that choice. But in a country where the average age of its citizens is increasing every day, we must stop assuming anyone with gray hair or wrinkles is suffering from diminished mental capabilities. It is not a vision for the future we can afford.



Originally published at penncapital-star.com,by Ray Landis

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