ISO the Young and the Restless

The United States is far from being the City of the Hill as envisioned by its founders: High rates of crimes and homelessness; gun-control laws that result in never-ending mass shootings; growing social-economic gaps.

But one cannot take one thing from that country: It has a large number of young and talented people, including many immigrants and their children, who have become the driving force behind much of the American creative spirit: Its world-famous scientific institutions; its dynamic commercial centres; Wall Street and the Silicon Valley; Hollywood and Broadway.

Indeed, if you are young person growing up in anywhere around the world, the chances are that you occasionally dream about the prospects that could be open to you in America, a country that perhaps may not be generous to the elderly and the poor, but offers so many opportunities to the young and the restless.

Which brings us to ask the following question: Why has that spirit of youth passed over American political world. And more superficially, why it looks like the next American president is going to be one of two aging white men who are more than a decade and a half beyond the average American retirement age and are stepping forward again for one of the hardest jobs in the world.

In fact, President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump are two of the three oldest men to ever serve as president.

And, according to most opinion polls, the American people don’t want to see either one of them occupying the White House after 2024.

Much has been written about the Republican presidential front-runner who isn’t qualified to be president not only because of his old age (77). Facing 91 felony charges in four separate cases for conduct before, during and after his presidency, Mr Trump still enjoys the support of the members of his political base.

In contrast, Democratic voters seem to have more mixed feelings about their party’s front runner, President Biden, 80, the first octogenarian to occupy the Oval Office.

Most of the Democrats give high marks to President Biden’s performance in office, including his effort to revitalize the American economy post-COVID and to restore US global status in his response to the Russian aggression in Ukraine and to Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Yet a clear majority of Democratic voters also believe that President Biden is too old to serve in office, a view that is shared by roughly three-quarters of all voters, half of whom also think Mr Trump is also too old to serve, according to Monmouth University poll taken in October 2023.

President Biden and Mr. Trump aren’t the only aging leaders in the US. It’s a bipartisan trend: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, is 72, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, is 81. In the House, California Democrat and former speaker Nancy Pelosi, at age 83, just announced she’s running for reelection for her 19th full term if office.

The time has come perhaps for Americans to consider proposal to impose age limits for federal elected office. And more important, for the two presidential front-runners to drop from the race. How about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley running against Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris? We can dream, can’t we?

About the Author
Leon Hadar is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Middle East Program. Dr. Leon Hadar served as Washington correspondent for The Business Times of Singapore and as the New York and United Nations bureau chief of The Jerusalem Post and The London Jewish Chronicle. He is a contributing editor with The National Interest and The American Conservative, having contributed regularly to The Spectator, and is a columnist and blogger for Haaretz (Israel). He holds three Master’s degrees, one in political science and communication from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and two from the School of International and Public Affairs and the School of Journalism (where he was the recipient of the Henry N. Taylor Award) at Columbia University where he also received a certificate from the Middle East Institute. He received his Ph.D. in international relations from the American University, Washington DC. He has taught international relations, Middle East politics, and communication at the American University and the University of Maryland, College Park, and was the director of international studies at Mount Vernon College in Washington.
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