What’s in a number? Forty-eight-year-old, Bret Stephens, a New York Times opinion columnist, thinks the number 86 is too old to be the President of the United States. This is the age President Biden will be at the end of his second term. Is this implicit or explicit ageism?
Age is a Matter of Perspective
This young ‘whippersnapper’ is a terrific writer and makes persuasive arguments. However, Brett neglects to discuss how some elders are old at 60 and others are young at 90. He’s not even 50 – what does he know about what it’s like to be 86? It’s also apparent Bret hasn’t read history. Winston Churchill was 66 in 1940 when he became the Prime Minister of Great Britain and led that country through WWII. At that time, the life expectancy for British men was 62. He was 77 and Prime Minister again when George VI died, and Elizabeth II ascended the throne. The Queen only recently died at 96 after 71 years on the throne.
Bret’s musings are what is wrong with US culture. Why do we choose random numbers to decide when someone is “too old?” I point to the FAA telling pilots they must retire at age 65. Before that, it was 60, yet both Captain “Sully” Sullenberger (US Airways) and Captain Haynes (United Airlines) piloted crippled planes to safety, saving countless lives at the age of 57. Why would you let that experience and wisdom retire? On the other hand, doctors have no mandatory retirement age, and they make life and death decisions daily!
With Regard to President Biden
As for President Biden, his age is the least of my concerns. Apart from Pete Buttigieg, his primary contenders were all Boomers. Senator Bernie Sanders, the oldest of all the candidates at 82, had a heart attack during the primary and still raised more money than the other candidates.
I hear the arguments that being President of the United States is an extremely stressful job, but so is being CEO of PepsiCo, Berkshire Hathaway, and any other large well-known conglomerate. I hear the arguments that Vice-President Kamala Harris is not capable of being President. Well, they said that about President Truman and the Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul. So far, history has proved them wrong.
Stop this talk about being too old! Why should we expect less of an 80-year-old than a 60-year-old? President Biden fought hard for this job, and it’s his to administrate. We have no right to ask him to quit simply because he’s charting new territory in his later years. I doubt his poll ratings would be any different if he were 60. I do not want anyone to give me a caveat due to my age … it would offend me. Nor do I want some 48-year-old to think he can determine what constitutes old. Bret, look at your history, don’t predict mine.
Age is a state of mind, and I work with many elders with youthful minds and active lifestyles. I run a successful law firm called Parent Your Parents in Miami, Florida, advocating for elders my age and older. I know what we’re capable of and don’t feel a number indicates waning potential. Contact me, Frances Reaves, for a free consultation and elder law support for multiple senior concerns all in one place. If you prefer, you can call 786-418-3303 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.