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Monday, February 26th, 2024

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 Age has never seemed to be such a big issue in American politics. Do we let our elected officials stay in office way too long? Should there be restrictions as to when older politicians must step down?  Or should we just let the voters decide as to when someone is too old to serve?

This issue is front and center because of the coming presidential election. It’s obvious now that there will be a Biden – Trump rerun for the presidency, and whoever wins will go out of office as the oldest president to ever serve.  President Biden took a major hit recently when a special counsel report described him as a “well – meaning, elderly man, with a poor memory, who has diminishing faculties in advancing age.”  Wow! I would consider that a pretty big hit.

Former President Trump is slightly younger by four years, but he too has suffered his own bouts of aging lately. He often is confused, saying we are on the verge of World War II, and that he defeated Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton.  He referred to his Republican primary challenger, Nickie Haley, as Nancy Pelosi, the former house Democratic speaker.

So it’s apparent that the current president and former president both have memory problems. Biden seems to mumble when he speaks, and Trump speaks in circles, constantly repeating himself. But that’s how they’ve always been. Voters were aware of this when they elected both of these politicos, so they knew what they were getting.  And yes, they both are much older than former presidents, but people just live longer today.

You think these two politicians are old? Their pikers compared to a Louisiana guy, Red Sims from up in the Monroe area. He was 96 years old and had served on the Ouachita Parish school board for 31 years.  Red was sharp as a tack right up until he died according to those who knew and worked with him. Yes, he was elderly, but he was the voters’ choice.

I was an elected official in Louisiana for 28 years and held four different offices. Today, I’m approaching 84 years, and feel like could perform any statewide office in Louisiana as well as I did some years back. Yes, there is a wear and tear factor on being an older elected official.  So how do you deal these pressures?

Any major elected official on either the state or national level generally has two responsibilities in holding office.  The first and most important is to administer their office and set public policy.  Perform the duties they were elected to carry out. Deal with the day in, day out problems that spring up. For presidents, there are always international conflicts. For governors, there is public policy involving crime, the environment, and putting people to work.

But there is a second responsibility, and that’s getting out and communicating with the public. Presidents travel the world to meet with foreign leaders. Governors crisscross their own states to stay in touch with voters. And this is where the wear and tear factor sets in. It’s one thing to sit in meetings on and off throughout the day. It’s another to travel by car or plane, meet and greet constituents and other elected officials, then get back home late at night. It’s tiring for any elected official to keep a schedule of traveling a good bit. It’s exhaustive for a president.

In England, the Prime Minister deals with the internal affairs of the country, and all the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance, is undertaken by the king or queen. How about that idea? Former Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the king of the Washington Mardi Gras Ball this year, so he’s already tuned up for such a job. And of course, the queen would be an easy pic. Doesn’t Taylor Swift get involved in just about everything?

Of course, such an idea is a pipe dream. We are stuck with the system where our presidents have to perform a wide variety of duties including ceremonial events and much travel. Maybe Biden and Trump are both passed their prime. So for good or bad, the voters have to make the choice. That’s how our system of democracy was drafted. And that’s probably how it should be.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also listen to his weekly podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.


1 Response
  1. Bruyere Anita

    You are right, they are both too old. But I would prefer Trump because he promised to stop the war in the Ukraine.

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