Friday, July 28, 2023

Maybe Elon Musk has a point


I'm sure readers are familiar with episodes involving our senior politicians - senior in terms of age as well as years of service - that make us wonder whether they're all there.  This week we've seen Senator McConnell (R) "freeze up" at a press conference, while Senator Feinstein (D) appeared confused and disoriented during a roll call vote.  That's on top of repeated, almost daily incidents involving President Biden that appear to display increasing incoherence and inability to control his movements, suggesting either senile dementia or an equivalent problem.  There have been more than a few such moments in the past involving politicians such as Nancy Pelosi, Kamala Harris and others.

In response to the incident with Senator McConnell, Elon Musk tweeted:

I think he may have a point.  One gets very tired of politicians (irrespective of their party) when they're performing business as usual, jabbering on inanely about subjects of which they know little or nothing, and expecting us to support them while they actively undermine our interests.  When their general incompetence is augmented by diminished capacity due to age and its effects, it gets even worse.  Based on what we saw this week, I daresay a case could be made that both Senators McConnell and Feinstein should be mandatorily retired as incompetent to exercise their office.  The signs are very clear that they're both "past it" - and they're not alone in that.

Perhaps a general age limit for elected political office (and, for that matter, appointed office, too) isn't a bad idea.  The Catholic Church requires bishops to tender their resignation to the Pope when they reach the age of 75 years.  He doesn't necessarily have to accept it, but in most cases he does, giving him an opportunity to bring in "fresh blood" to the episcopacy, and (hopefully) "cleaning house" of those who've become ossified in their thinking and reactions.  Perhaps that's a reasonable age limit for our politicians as well.  If 75 isn't right, what is?

That's one of the reasons I'm very dubious about voting for former President Trump.  Regardless of his policies, he'll be 78 years old if he's re-elected in 2024.  Joe Biden was that age when he assumed office - and we've all seen the very visible signs of age-related problems in him even before that.

There's simply a human and medical reality that as we get older, our capabilities and performance deteriorate to a greater and greater extent.  Can we ignore that in our national and political leaders?  I don't think so.  There's nothing stopping an older person from offering really useful advice and insights, but to have such a person's finger on the "nuclear button"?  To have such a person making and/or approving national policy that directly and immediately affects not only our future, but the future of the world?  To me, that's a very dangerous situation.

Let's hear your thoughts in Comments, dear readers.  I think this subject needs wider exposure.



Aercho said...

It takes humility to know when to step back as well as knowing that the next generation has the intelligence and wisdom to keep things running smoothly as well as dealing with new issues as they arise. Our current "leaders" have no humility outside the few moments when they realize how precarious their position truly is. Many have done nothing to ready the next generation to take the reins, either.

I don't think that term limits would fix this, but it would at least allow for more fresh minds to be involved in the work of governing.

Trailer For Sale Or Rent said...

I'd say 70.
Better to exclude a few who still "have it" than to allow someone to remain in office who is not mentally up to the task.

Nylon12 said...

There's minimum age requirement for Congress and the Presidency, there needs to be a maximum age limit for both.

boron said...

Some people still have it" at 85 and I've known plenty who've never "had it" at any age.
The number of years someone's spent on G-d's little mudball is not a determining factor.
Mental acuity is something that can be found in the very young, but the ability to draw (and see) a line from "a" to "b", is something that develops (one hopes) with age and experience.
Frailties, both physical and mental, can develop at any age: a specific number should not be a criterion at any time.

MNW said...

I blame voter (me included) for not being invloved at a grass level and allowing the parties to dictate who we vote for.

Yes, all of them should have retired years ago (arrogance and averous is why they haven't) - at the end of the day, the apathy of we the people what allows this farce and elder abuse continue.

Dad29 said...

WRT the Trump/Biden age situation....

MUCH depends on their Cabinet and adviser picks, as we have learned the very hard way over the last 10 years or so. I'd take a less-capable President with patriotic and sane advisers and Cabinet over a younger President managed by such as Nuland, Comey, and Garland any day of the week, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Romans 13:1 comes to mind: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
So God has given us the government that we deserve. What more could you expect out of a nation that has murdered millions upon millions of the unborn

Max Wiley said...

It's past time for the boomer generation to step aside and pass the reins of power on to the younger generations.
Everything has been designed and catered to them for 50 years, they have been running things for 30+ and by any objective measure the country is a mess.
It's past time for that "new blood" you mentioned.

Javahead said...

Not a bad idea, but to my mind an even more significant restriction would be term limits on all federal elective offices - 12 years total in the Senate, House, or both seems about right.

That, and eliminating “qualified immunity” for all Government officials and employees, right down to the school board level.

Murder Kitten said...

I have mixed opinions on this. On one hand, I've met people well into their 90s who were still just as sharp as most people are in their 30s. On the other, I am more familiar than most with the horrible impact that the various tyes of dementia and other conditions that are generally considered to be (but in fact are not) age-related. The truth is that all forms of dementia and all other neurological conditions that can cause general cognitive decline can happen at absolutely any age, including Alzheimer's dementia starting in one's 30s. I've seen it.

I would argue that the better way forward would be a constitutional ammendment requiring that the medical records of public officials and those running for public office be made public, including all records, medication lists, and provider notes after the person takes public office. Sorry, but I don't think that the right to privacy exists for public officials.

Jess said...

Term limits are probably more important, but setting an age only allows politicians to shirk another of their responsibilities. Staff does too much for them, and bureaucracy allows more. Cut back of staff, force politicians to do their job, and if they fail with the tasks they're responsible for, the job of the rest is to vote them out of committees, show their constituents what they voted for, and let the Republic follow the path envisioned.

Jen said...

The thing that I find disturbing, is that biden is clearly in the throes of dementia, but it doesn't seem to matter. Who's actually minding the store, and why aren't those questions being asked? He has all his unmentionable freaks in charge of 3-letter agencies, but somebody has to be steering things, and it certainly isn't him.

jason said...

Lower the low age to 20 and put the high age at 50. Politics would be way more fun.

tweell said...

The problem with a mandatory age is that it only deals with most folks, not exceptions. I'll use writers as examples. Terry Pratchett suffered from early onset Alzheimer's and died from it at 66. I'd argue that his last books were not really his. Thomas Sowell is 93, and is still writing cogent informative books. He may be a decade older than our current president, but I know who I'd rather have there!

We already have the 25th amendment, detailing how to remove a president for reasons of incapability. Congress once again won't do their job, making me wonder why we keep sending these folks back there. Of course, they may also be more afraid of having a President Harris.

Anonymous said...

Slash government power by 90% and NOBODY will want to spend any real time in power and everyone wins. Why does everyone always talk about band-aids, rather than discuss the root cause - out of control government power?

Landroll said...

As a 78 year old, I resent your inference that I might be over the hill. However, I will admit I am no longer capable of many of the fabulous feats for which I was renowned as a younger man. There is a 67 year age limit on commercial pilots less they make a serious error while zooming through the sky with ~300 souls on board. How much more careful should we be with our national leader when he is zooming around with ~330+ million souls on board his nation?

Chuck said...

No age limit, but term limits that cover time in ALL elected/appointed offices. And a drastic lowering in pay. This isn't supposed to be a full time job. They need to work under the rules and regulations they promulgate.

Anonymous said...

No, don't lower the pay. Increase their pay to $1M per year.....BUT all unused campaign funds revert within 90 days to rotating pen of charities within state of elected officials. Blind lottery selection.
Also no more unused campaign funds becoming personal property
Also, Congress is limited to 90 days of session every year and no permanent home in D.C. just dormitory within the bounds of Arlington Nat'l cemetery.

Give them something to think about when they put head to pillow

Xoph said...

I'm reading "Defending Dixie's Land". I really never knew the evil beginnings of the Republican Party. The goal was to make states sub servant to the federal govt. We are too big to be a government of the people, by the people. Congress isn't doing their job nor is the pResident. Who is in charge? Not Biden and I doubt Pelosi. Have you met your Senator or Congressman? Do you think you could unless you were willing to fork over a huge donation.

We are not a gov't of the people, by the people and certainly not for the people.

Whoever follows needs age limits, term limits and some meaningful checks on politicians. I had a friend who advocated you get one hunting license once in your life for one politician. I thought he was crazy but I am beginning to see his point.

John Fisher said...

Corporations are allowed to move corporate officers out at 65. Politicians should not be allowed to run for office after 65.

Anonymous said...

If people want older politicians in office, they will vote for them. If there is no better choice you get an old one. Term limits will not work if the first term they run is when they are 72. To deny an older person to run for office because of their age is not right.

People should be educated to know when someone is no longer competent for office and vote for someone else.


John V said...

Let's not forget that genius Fetterman as well. It's not just the politicians, it's also the morons who elect them. You can't fix the voters.

Unknown said...

If the founders had put an age limit in the Constitution when it was written, we would find that limit ridiculously low today.

What age limit do you want to put in that you are sure will not be ridiculously low in another couple hundred years?

And if you want to talk about competency testing instead, who gives the test? the candidates supporters (who have signed off on Joe Biden) or their detractors (who wouldn't pass anybody)? one way make them meaningless, the other provides an easy way to eliminate people you don't want to run against.

Leave it up to the voters. The problem with declaring that the voters "made a mistake" or "can't be trusted" is who's judgement are you imposing instead?

Now, term limits (applied equally to all parties, simple numeric criteria with no subjective wiggle room) are a different story, I will support those. Even if we all start living to 1000, there is value in having a turnover in Congress and making government positions be a part time thing rather than a career

In fact, we need to extend this term limits concept to Civil Service jobs as well. People need to experience time being subject to the rules they are working on, not just imposing them. Yes, there will still be 'revolving door' problems, but would they be any worse than the regulatory capture that exists today?

David Lang

lynn said...

I am in favor of two term and you are out. If the President is limited to two terms, why not all federal offices ?

Unknown said...

@ John Fisher, I'd be interested in seeing a law that says you can fire execs at 65, I'd be even more interested in seeing any law that REQUIRED you to fire execs at 65.

As for laws requiring retirement for pilots, railroad conductors, etc at 65, when were those laws passed? what was the life expectancy at that time? have those ages ever been changed (I seriously doubt it), even as the Social Security retirement age has been getting bumped up?

I know people who are unsafe to fly at 50, and others in their 80s who I would absolutely trust. At least with driving/flying jobs there are reasonably neutral medical exams that can (and in the case of pilots, are) given to test for safety (and any Doctor who falsely certifies people will be in a lot of hot water.. As I say above, there is no punishment for doctors who say that a politician is competent, so I don't see how competency tests can work there. But I see a numeric age as being even worse.

Andrew Smith said...

The electorate should be able to sort it out. Now who is actually voting for these people???

Aesop said...

I'd avoid a hard limit for multiple reasons.

1) You're literally hijacking the voters' choice by doing a mandatory retirement age limit. SCOTUS would likely reject a hard limit out of hand on that basis alone as a clear and deliberate violation of the right of the people to choose their representatives. And they'd be right.

2) For every McConell or Biden, you can point to Trump (who could run mental rings around either of them). Benjamin Franklin was 81 when he signed the Constitution, and was serving his second term as president (functionally, governor) of Pennsylvania at the time, and continued in that capacity to the age of two months shy of 83. Nobody suggested, then or now, that he was too feeble or incapacitated to perform the duties of any office his entire life.

3) Senator Fetterman, OTOH, is mentally unfit now, at age 53, and mentally has an IQ around that of a potato. In fact, he would be hard-pressed to spell "potato", and get it right three times in a row.

4) The correct course would be to specify a mental status exam, just like taking an eye exam at the DMV, and once you can't pass, you're medically retired for incapacity. That withstands moral and legal objections, while retaining the flexibility to get rid of any potato serving in any office, at any age, and a uniform and standardized cognitive function test would be inarguable and persuasive evidence that any Mr. Potato is unfit, triggering the 25th Amendment in POTUS' case, and impeachment on medical grounds in any other case. Which would suffice for federal judges, senators, congressmen, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, or frankly, any job with a public paycheck.
Videotaping the exam, and releasing the results under FOIA, would torpedo any attempt to railroad competent officeholders, as well as kibbosh anyone unfit from trying to cling to office.

If it works for Rain Man, it'll work for Emperor Poopypants or Fetterman.

Dan said...

The problem with mandating such requirements is they inevitably get used as precedent to impose on other areas. If we can require politicians to retire at 75 eventually they will
require everyone to give up driving at age 75. Requiring OBJECTIVE proof of fitness to do something is perhaps something to consider. But mandates are simply too rigid. The only
exceptions that may be acceptable is like mandatory retirement age for certain pilots, whose performance or failures to perform can cause deaths of others.

Anonymous said...

One question, and two comments.
What happens to your mental status exam when it is run by not-sane people?
The comment about Boomers gives me a chuckle - you can see those same comments being made in the 1960's by Boomers, saying that the older generation has made a mess of things and need to retire and get out of the way. In another 40 years or so the young people will be saying the same thing about today's young people as well. All the way up and down the line, people are refusing to do their societal jobs properly - voters electing bad choices, the general public allowing voter fraud to hijack elections, politicians serving money and power instead of their constituents...just a short list as there are so many more. When a people turn their back on God, any fix that doesn't start with God will turn up clinkers. At this point I would say to look for areas where God is still the priority and look to yourself and see if you are willing to uproot and move there.

Clyde said...

"No one shall serve more than six terms or portions thereof in elected office in the United States, nor shall serve more than two terms or portions thereof in the same office; no one shall be eligible for election or appointment to a government office who will have achieved their 70th birthday prior to the beginning of their term and such service shall constitute a lifetime prohibition against receiving remuneration from a government in the United States except for salary, benefit and retirement commensurate with rank in the United States Armed Forces; no one may accumulate non-elected civilian government service in the United States exceeding 18 years."


Anonymous said...

The minimum age for any federal official, politician or bureaucrat, should be 35. The maximum age should be 34.

jason said...

Charities are all alteady just funding Leftist politicians. Giving to charitiy is funsing LGBTQ and especially P.

Unknown said...


As I said above, any age limit that we put in now will need to change over time, so I don't believe there should be an age limit.

One other thing that I would like to see is a requirement to resign from your current position to run for a different one.

not resign immediately, but if you are going to run for office, you should have to resign as of the date that you would assume the new office, no matter if you win or not. Let the voters pick your replacement in the same election that they are deciding if you get your new office or not.

Besides limiting the "I'm two years into a 6 year term, so I'll run for another office, if I lose, no big deal I keep my existing job" issue, it would also eliminate the gap in representations that the voters would suffer from someone doing that, and eliminate the costs of running a special election to elect the replacement.

we can discuss the specific numbers otherwise, but I am very much against putting an age limit in the law.

David Lang

Aesop said...

@Anon 3:56,

"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - U.S. Constitution, Article IV, clause 3.2

Thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

And BTW, if you have insane people running things, you have much bigger problems than senile politicians in office.

Anonymous said...

At no point did I say there should be a religious test for office - you placed that into your own mind and then tried to add it into to what I posted. Putting words into someone's mouth and then attacking them for what they did not say is not a serious, valid, or useful method for discussion. You might want to dial it back a bit.
I was referring to the people as a whole, and the foundation for their decision making.

Steve said...

I think term limits should be in place for both political office and all political appointees. Also once you have served a term you are ineligible to serve in any office or appointed position until after you have worked in a private field for the length of the term you served.
Harsh, maybe, but it could put this nation back on the path intended by its founders rather than the corruptness we have dealt with over the past century.

Aesop said...

1) I didn't "attack" you. Scroll back. And perhaps chill out yourself.
I didn't place any words into your mouth; I outlined the constitutional limits on making that idea any sort of policy. So the idea is hamstrung as a solution from the get-go.
Bonus points: sign your posts. With Something. Just so everyone knows which one of 2000 Anonymous posters would be you. Not my house, not my rules, just a gentle suggestion, but identifying yourself consistently is a bit more courteous than random sniping. YMMV.

2) Any fix that starts with God - any God -at any level of government is unconstitutional. You've suggested a solution that is thus impossible to implement, on the grounds outlined, by any level of the government, which venue was the entire topic under discussion in the OP. Sorry if you missed that, or if me noting that stings, but there it is.

3) A godly people is a nice idea (looking no farther than John Adams' comments on that exact topic), and an excellent solution for a host of ills.,a%20society%20to%20be%20free.

Unfortunately not a particularly helpful one to suggest for implementation.
If, like Jonah, one wishes to march through society crying "Repent!", that approach is between them and whatever deity they answer to. Our sincere best wishes on the enterprise.

4) Just curious: when two different people or groups are hawking two different deities, and they come out in opposition, perhaps vehemently, as happens, how would you decide which ones to listen to?
For example: Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, vs. the entire Jewish population of America.
Or Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, et al vs. every religious person in the U.S.

Then explain how that gets anyone anywhere re: getting rid of mentally deficient officeholders.

Topics: still a thing.

Anonymous said...

I said 'the people' and you immediately jumped in with:
"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - U.S. Constitution, Article IV, clause 3.2

As I was not talking about public office holders, you were putting words in my mouth - unless your claim that only public office holders are people.

Then you said:
Thanks for playing, and we have some lovely parting gifts for you.

I doubt anyone would regard that line as a compliment. Are you attempting to emulate the people Alexander Pope wrote about?

As the person running this site prefers civility, and you appear to be trying to do an end run around it, I see no point in continuing this.

Aesop said...

The entire OP was about public office holders, cleverly highlighted by the bloghost in bright yellow.
Perhaps you missed that.
You could go back and check it yourself, just in case I got it wrong. (I'm sure you'll let me know.)

So nobody "put words into your mouth", least of all me.
You just ran off onto your own rant in the weeds.
If you expected compliments for that, sorry to disappoint you.

Attempting to drag you back to the topic isn't uncivil, just a waste of time for me, and apparently annoying to you.
Fortunately, there's an ointment for that.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.