Steve Lopez: Is age really just a number? Not when it comes to Biden and Trump

Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Lifestyles

In less than three weeks, I'll hit 70, which seems like a good time to launch a run for president of the United States.

Donald Trump, 77, hit the big 7-0 before becoming president in 2016. President Joe Biden is 3½ years ahead of Trump, and they're likely to face off for a second time in 2024. If I were to jump in as an independent, maybe I could lock up the youth vote.

It's not a negative to have the leader of the free world drawing Social Security checks; after all, we're not far off from an era in which people older than 65 outnumber those younger than 18. And we're just hours away from the premier of ABC's "The Golden Bachelor," in which a 72-year-old searches for a date, and who knows where that might lead? You may recall a prime-time TV show that helped catapult its star into the Oval Office.

I bring all of this up because age and fitness are already central issues in the next election, with polls suggesting voters think Biden, in particular, is faltering physically and mentally.

If you were to line up Biden and Trump for a lap around the track, I think I'd put my money on Biden. As for mental acuity, there is no more obvious threat to the human race than climate change, and only one of the two men is cognitively impaired on that point.

To be fair, there are legitimate questions about how Biden and Trump will age. But there's no surefire way to see into the future.


So what should we do about that?

"I think the simple and right answer is that ageism is unacceptable, and that it's not about how old you are — it's not about chronology — it's about competency and ability," said Paul Irving, senior consultant to the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.

And yet, we all know that the older you get, the greater the risk for a number of ailments including cognitive impairment.

Which leads one to ponder why, at a time when such a diverse array of young people are a dominant force in American technology, social media, culture and entertainment, the average age of a U.S. senator is 65, and the top two presidential candidates, both white men, were born in the 1940s.


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