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Too Old?

Too Old?

        The question came up in the 2016 campaign, Trump would be 70 at inauguration, Clinton 68 ... was that just too old to take on the onerous task of running this complicated country?  How much are we entitled to know about candidates who may serve 8 years and whose life expectancy at election is 77 years for men and 81 years for women. 

There are so many layers to this question. Linda Rodriguez McRobbie wrote in the ideas column of The Boston Globe that the science of aging brains proves older brains are less plastic and slow which means they may not to be up to the tasks of the current moment.

   On the democratic and independent sides of the race there is a wide age range of candidates to choose from 37-77. The oldest could be the youngest's grandparent.

     We know that the job of president ages whoever fills the post. the changes in a Obama looked more like 20 years of aging than 8.  

      None of us like to lumped together or thought of a representative of a group in decline; but we have to think long and hard about the job we are hiring the future president to do.         

Ms. Rodriguez McRobbie writes: 

  "Older people are valuable. They can be wise, they can be vivacious, they can be sensible, they can be creative, they have experience, something that’s chronically undervalued in the American job market.  But they shouldn’t be president."

There are positive aspects to the function of the aging brain as Ms. Rodriguez McRobbie states: "one cognitive area that does seem to improve with age is the ability to see the whole picture. This is in part because neurologically, our dendrites — the receiving end of a neuron — are branching out more, reaching, in a sense, for more disparate connections between established memories and thoughts. But this comes with a decline in processing critical details.

Seeing the big picture may be one way that we adapt to our inability to quickly take in and synthesize new material. That’s why older politicians, including Pelosi and “whatshisname” McConnell, tend to excel in getting the gist of situations, seeing the forest rather than the trees. They are drawing from their vast cache of experiences, which helps them understand what’s happening now by relating it to something that happened in the past." 

An informed electorate aspires to elect an individual based on their experience, past performance, in and out of office, principles and platform; but most importantly their ability to do the job. For many of these candidates their past performance more than their age should disqualify them from the job. 

Evan Thomas who is now 67 wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post ;

"When I was younger (35 years old), I helped popularize the notion that age and experience count for a great deal in government by co-writing, with Walter Isaacson, a book called The Wise Men."

"I recently thought about the burdens of age — the closed-mindedness and sheer fatigue — and the importance of younger and fresher perspectives in connection with the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan in August 1945. President Harry S. Truman’s top civilian adviser was Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. In later years, Stimson would be revered as a role model for a later generation of Wise Old Men.

But at a meeting of Truman’s top war council in June 1945, Stimson, who was 77 years old, was exhausted. Suffering from a migraine, he had not slept well the night before. He barely spoke up. Instead, Stimson’s aide, Jack McCloy, tried to argue that “we ought to have our heads examined” if the United States didn’t try to induce the Japanese to surrender before dropping the bomb. McCloy suggested that instead of demanding unconditional surrender, the Allies should let Japan keep its emperor, a gambit that might have worked to avert Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The instance cried out for creative thinking, but no one in the room was ready to listen to the 40-year-old McCloy, who was deemed too young and brash.

So listen to your elders. But don’t necessarily vote for them." 



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