Whatever the differences, the two leaders in the democratic presidential race, Joe Biden, born on November 20, 1942, and Bernie Sanders, born on September 8, 1941, share a common feature: they are too old to be president.
Biden, leader of the Real Clear Politics average of polls, turns 78 during Inauguration Day 2021. Sanders, number two in the field, turns 79. Both would be older after taking office than Ronald Reagan was when he left office after two years requirements.
Voters are clearly open to older candidates. President Trump, born on June 14, 1946, is the oldest president to ever take office – 70 years on the inauguration day, a few months older than Reagan when he seized power. And of course, Trump Hillary defeated Clinton, born on October 26, 1947, who, if she had won, would have been the same age as Reagan, 69, when he took office.
Americans choose a president with the understanding that he or she could serve eight years. If that were the case with a President Sanders, he would be 87 years old when he left and a President Biden would be 86.
There are undoubtedly both powerful men. But if a president pushed 90, this would be a new experience in American politics.
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According to actuarial tables from the social security administration, the life expectancy of a 70-year-old man is 14.30 years – enough time to fulfill two time limits and proceed to physical decline. The life expectancy of a 78-year-old man is 9.33 years – enough to achieve two installments and not much more. The life expectancy of a 79-year-old man is 8.77 years – hardly enough to get it out of the White House.
Of course every man can turn 100. None of us know it. But given their age, the issue is more than just whether each candidate could be a vote from the past or from today's problems. The question is whether they are just too old to cope with the hardships of the presidency.
There is no doubt that the Republican candidate, President Trump, will be 74 years old on the next inauguration day. What is unknown is whether Democrats choose a candidate who is even older, or whether they will give voters a generic choice. But first the Democratic Party must go through a generational settlement itself.
The party has a large number of high-level candidates for the presidency. In third place in the Real Clear Politics average is Kamala Harris, born on October 20, 1964, who is 56 on the inauguration day. The following is Beto O & Rourke, born on September 26, 1972, who will be 48 years old (slightly older than Barack Obama when he took office).
The next is the candidate who would be the oldest in the Democratic race, had it not been Sanders and Biden. Elizabeth Warren, born June 22, 1949, turns 71 on an inauguration day – older than Trump when he took the oath of office. But given Reagan and Trump's experience, and Clinton's candidacy, Warren appears within the accepted range of presidential age.
Continuing the democratic field, there is Cory Booker, born on April 27, 1969, who will be 51 on inauguration day. Dan Pete Buttigieg, born on January 19, 1982, who will be 39 years old the day before the inauguration and is the subject of endless profiles with the remark that he would be the first president of the millennium. Then Amy Klobuchar, born on May 25, 1960, will turn 60 on the inauguration day. After that, all lower-ranking candidates are at the same age.
They are all in the zone. And everything is separate from Sanders and Biden.
The former vice president has put a lot of energy into things he said and positions he had held 30 and 40 years ago. He is also in the middle of a # meToo mess about his all too familiar way to touch women. Sanders – the man who traveled to the Soviet Union on a honeymoon – can also look like the product of an earlier era.
But there is a much simpler point about Biden and Sanders. They are too old to occupy the highest office in the country, not because they have no contact or because their records are not in line with today's sensitivities, but because they are just too old.
For those who answer, "Well, what about Trump?" remember: if the president serves two terms, he leaves the White House at 78, the oldest ever in office. But that's the age that Biden would have to start his presidency. And Sanders is a year older.
Will the Democrats realize that and nominate a candidate who draws a clear generation contrast with President Trump? In another era, Biden or Sanders was perhaps a plausible nominee (although both have tried and failed). But not now.