Is Bernie Sanders too old to run for president in 2020? | The Tylt
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has announced his intention to run for president in 2020. If he were to win the presidency, he would become the oldest person to hold the office in American history, celebrating his 80th birthday in office. Sanders, at age 77, argues he is in impeccable health and has a sharp mind. Not only that, but our current president is 72 years old and frequently faces concerns about his health. Others say Sanders is too old to connect with the country as a whole. What do you think?
Is Bernie Sanders too old to run for president in 2020?
At 77-years-old, Sanders is by far the oldest candidate running for president. Former Vice President Joe Biden who is expected to join the race, would be younger than Sanders by only a year. Many pundits worry Sanders' age could not only negatively affect his performance in office but hurt his chances of ever winning the seat. Per New York Magazine:
[I]t’s no secret that when people, particularly men, get to that age, the risk of mortality rises significantly (a 75-year-old man has a 22 percent chance of dying within six years), and along with it the possibility of cognitive deterioration (an estimated 15 percent of people between the ages of 80 and 84 suffer from some form of dementia). If voters fear any of that happening, it could (particularly with some encouragement from the kind of intensely hostile conservative media that Sanders and Biden were spared in 2016) affect their electability in ways that are not easy to anticipate in scope and power. And even more obviously, if a 77- or 79-year-old candidate suffers from any real or perceived impairment, the issue could take over the campaign to an extent that makes Hillary Clinton’s email problem look minor.
Sanders' supporters are quick to point out that Sanders appears to maintain a far healthier lifestyle than the current sitting president. Not only that, but he would not be the oldest person holding elected office in the federal government. Per the Intercept:
Yet his likely Republican opponent, Trump, will be the previous record-holder. He was 70 in 2016 and will be 74 in 2020. Yes, the overweight sitting president, who eats junk food, doesn’t exercise, and refuses to release his medical records.
In terms of the Democratic primaries, Sanders will be 79 in 2020, but Biden will be 77 and Elizabeth Warren will be 71. Oh, and did you know that Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and her top deputy Steny Hoyer are both older than the Vermont senator?
So why should his age be held against him?
Sanders himself has acknowledged that his age could be a concern for some voters. However, he told Politico that he is of excellent health and his age would in no way affect his performance.
“It’s part of a discussion, but it has to be part of an overall view of what somebody is and what somebody has accomplished,” Sanders, who is 77, told POLITICO. “Look, you’ve got people who are 50 years of age who are not well, right? You’ve got people who are 90 years of age who are going to work every day doing excellent work. And obviously, age is a factor. But it depends on the overall health and well being of the individual.”
Sanders has been questioned about his age several times since entering the race. During an interview with Vermont Public Radio, he responded:
"We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age," Sanders said. "I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for."
The hosts of FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast felt the response was "self-serving" and somewhat defensive, lumping real concerns about his age in with unfair racial biases and gender being held against other candidates.