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View Poll Results: Should there be a maximum age for politicians?
Yea 10 43.48%
Nay 13 56.52%
Voters: 23. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 2020-12-04, 21:30   #1
MooMoo2
 
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Default Would you support an upper age limit for politicians?

It's not exactly breaking news, but a large fraction of U.S. politicians from both parties are old, and I suspect that is also the case with many other countries. Biden and McConnell are 78, Sanders is 79, Pelosi is 80, and Trump is comparatively youthful at 74. There has been some discussion on whether there should be a maximum age limit to hold office, so would you be in favor of that idea? Arguments in favor range from mental decline to a more equal representation for younger generations.

If I had the power to do so, I wouldn't put in a numerical age limit, but would tie it to the life expectancy of the country's population. If your age at the end of the term you're running for is greater than the country's life expectancy, you shouldn't be allowed to run for that position. Since the U.S. life expectancy is 78, anyone who would turn 78 before January 20, 2025 should not have been allowed to be a presidential candidate in the 2020 election.

The main benefit is that politicians will actually start caring about their constituents. Want to be President or Senator at 84? Sure, just implement some policies that would make America's life expectancy equal to Japan's. You can start by overhauling the healthcare system.

Another benefit is that politicians will have more skin in the game. Someone who's Biden's age would be less likely to care about long-term issues like fossil fuel depletion since those issues wouldn't directly affect him/her. But someone who's Buttigieg's age would live to see those consequences. Of course, it wouldn't make sense to let 18 year olds run the country, but I think that some form of upper age limit makes sense.

Thoughts?

Last fiddled with by MooMoo2 on 2020-12-04 at 21:33 Reason: wording
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Old 2020-12-04, 21:36   #2
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Life expectancy normally quoted is "at birth". That is why the LE in Roman times was low, but there were plenty of older folks. Modify your requirement to be that person's life expectancy based upon their current age should be TERM + 5. In the USA people's LE's are different based upon a number of factors.
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Old 2020-12-04, 22:17   #3
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We already have the freedom to enforce this, by voting for someone else.

On the other hand, laws that "save us from ourselves" aren't always a bad idea.

I prefer term limits rather than age caps, though- it's hard to dislodge entrenched power such as Pelosi via primary, but it's not clear why a person exceeding the life expectancy of a nation is automatically a poor leader.
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Old 2020-12-05, 04:26   #4
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Using age as a proxy for "not caring about the future" seems bad to me. If they have children then the amount of caring could be more than someone younger without children.

It is about the person, not their age. Or gender, colour, religion, height, etc.
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Old 2020-12-05, 07:21   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncwilly View Post
Life expectancy normally quoted is "at birth". That is why the LE in Roman times was low, but there were plenty of older folks. Modify your requirement to be that person's life expectancy based upon their current age should be TERM + 5
The drawback is that you'd be reducing their incentive to care about issues that are more likely to affect younger people, such as infant mortality (there's still room for improvement there: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4856058/ ), violent crime, mental health, suicides, accidents, etc. Before 1900 or so, that modification would make sense, as there were a huge number of deaths under age 5 that we didn't have the medical knowledge to prevent. At that time, you're right that LE at birth wasn't really representative of an adult's LE or of a leader's competence.

But your proposal is still much better than not having any upper age limit at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VBCurtis View Post
We already have the freedom to enforce this, by voting for someone else.

On the other hand, laws that "save us from ourselves" aren't always a bad idea.

I prefer term limits rather than age caps, though- it's hard to dislodge entrenched power such as Pelosi via primary, but it's not clear why a person exceeding the life expectancy of a nation is automatically a poor leader.
Why not implement both term limits and age caps? It's true that a person in power who exceeds the country's life expectancy may not automatically be a poor leader, just as it's true that someone who's 20 years and 364 days old may not automatically be too immature to drink. But you have to draw the line somewhere.

Perhaps we could implement some sort of sliding scale. If you've already served X terms and exceed the country's life expectancy by Y years, you need to win (50+AX+BY)% of the vote, instead of just a majority or plurality.
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Old 2020-12-05, 07:52   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooMoo2 View Post
But you have to draw the line somewhere.
Why do we have to? You haven't presented your case yet, other than the assumption that they don't care, which I already debunked above.
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Old 2020-12-05, 10:28   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooMoo2 View Post
...and I suspect that is also the case with many other countries.
In the Dutch equivalent of the House of Representatives, the average age is currently about 44.
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Old 2020-12-05, 14:03   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
<snip>
It is about the person, not their age. Or gender, colour, religion, height, etc.
This is a vital point. The institutions of government are no better than the men and women who hold office in them. This country is now governed by a president who is (IMO) a malignant narcissist, who cares nothing about the duties of his office, and is incapable of admitting he lost the 2020 election, who is enabled by a party of poltroons, none of whom care at all about their constituents, the Constitution, the law, or anything else other than self-enrichment and "the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states."

This has little to do with age. Marjorie Taylor Greene (age 46) and Lauren Boebert (who will turn 34 on December 15) are both QAnon adherents. Greene also thinks that Muslims should not be in government. Boebert is a gun nut and an antivaxxer. Both were recently elected to Congress (Greene to Georgia's 14th District, Boebert to Colorado's 3rd District).

Also, if there is anything that is a quintessentially American ideal, it is considering people as individuals -- more than as members of any ethnic group, religion, or political party. Or, for that matter, what their age is, other than being old enough to qualify for office.

As to the R's remaining silent on the prez's refusal to admit he lost the election, and on the lies he keeps spewing about a "rigged election," here is a quotation, often misattributed to Edmund Burke:

Quote:
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
-- John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address at St Andrew's (1867)
ruthlessly taken out of context from the Declaration of Independence
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Old 2020-12-05, 18:28   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retina View Post
Why do we have to? You haven't presented your case yet, other than the assumption that they don't care, which I already debunked above.
The idea is that you'd want a country's leaders to care about the country's population. If they pass policies which benefit people's health and make them live longer, they should be rewarded by getting to stay in office longer. But if their policies cause a drop in life expectancy, they should be punished by making them ineligible to run for another term. Would politicians who're around Trump's age be as inclined to dismiss the pandemic so easily if they knew that the resulting drop in life expectancy would automatically make them ineligible to re-run for office?

Limiting a politician's income to X times the median adult's income would also be a great idea, but there are too many loopholes around that.

Quote:
Using age as a proxy for "not caring about the future" seems bad to me. If they have children then the amount of caring could be more than someone younger without children.
It's kind of like having a pilot on the plane vs. having a pilot on the ground who's remotely controlling the plane. Even if both had the same level of skill and competence and that there were no technical difficulties with the remote-controlled system, who would you trust if you had to board one of those planes? The pilot who'll get injured or killed if the plane crashes, or the pilot who's guaranteed to physically walk away unharmed if the plane crashes? Like everything in life, there are exceptions (i.e., suicidal pilots and pilots who have family members on that flight), but I doubt that many people would trust a plane with no one in the cockpit even if the legal and technical difficulties were resolved.

Like the plane example, someone with many decades of remaining life expectancy will likely live to see the consequences of decisions that may seem good now but have negative long-term effects. But someone with just a few years of remaining life expectancy won't live to see those consequences, so you just have to hope and trust that they care about a future that they won't live in. That seems to be unwise:
https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...america-218892
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart...aths-11364143/


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick View Post
In the Dutch equivalent of the House of Representatives, the average age is currently about 44.
That's refreshing to hear!
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Old 2020-12-05, 19:17   #10
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Term limits has turned some politicians into serial office holders. A common pattern such as the following:
City Council until termed out
Mayor until termed out
County Supervisor until termed out
State Representative until termed out
Stat Senate until termed out
Other statewide elected office until termed out.

So, that would lead to about this much service all over:
(4 x 2) + (4 x 2) + (4 x 2) + (2 x 3) + (4 x 2) + (4 x 2) = 46 years of serial service, more if term limits are 3x and terms are >4 years.

I have seen one particularly despicable (for many reasons) politician leave an office ahead of the start of term limits for that office (they would have been immediately termed out, subject to any clause to phase them in). They went to hold a different position, then came back and filled the previous seat until they were termed out.
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Old 2020-12-06, 01:10   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncwilly View Post
Term limits has turned some politicians into serial office holders.
<snip>
I have seen one particularly despicable (for many reasons) politician leave an office ahead of the start of term limits for that office (they would have been immediately termed out, subject to any clause to phase them in). They went to hold a different position, then came back and filled the previous seat until they were termed out.
I don't know how well this comports with your idea of "serial office holder," but...

In Colorado, John Hickenlooper, after running a successful brewery in Denver, was twice elected Mayor of Denver, twice elected Governor of Colorado, and has just been elected US Senator for Colorado, defeating the incumbent Corey Gardner, R-CO, AKA "Mr. Personhood Amendment."

Another way to get around impediments to re-election is to have a proxy hold the office.

In 1966, George Wallace was legally ineligible to run for a second consecutive term as Governor of Alabama. His wife Lurleen ran instead, won, and served until 1968, when she died in office.

Apparently the term limit law was changed. George Wallace was elected as Governor again in 1970, and was re-elected in 1974.

Also in 1974, Chicago 31st Ward Alderman Thomas Keane, who had been in that office since he took it over in 1945 when his father died, was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison, of which he served 22 months.

During his incarceration, his wife Adeline was first named as stand-in, then was elected in 1975 to a full four-year term. In 1979 she decided not to run again. (His mail fraud conviction was overturned when the US Supreme Court ruled the part of the statute he was convicted of violating was unconstitutional, but his conviction remained on the record.)
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