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Mitt Romney set an example for politicians

Gage Skidmore | Flickr

Long-term politician and current Utah Senator Mitt Romney announced his decision to not seek re-election, setting an example of a graceful exit that other legislators should follow.

Romney, 76, but would have been 83 at the end of a second term, commented that “The issues of the day relate to China, climate change, A.I. And a lot of the guys in their 80s don’t know how to deal with those issues,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

He was also critical of President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, who are 80 and 77 respectively, stating that “it would be a great thing if President Biden and former President Trump were to stand aside and let the respective party pick someone in the next generation.”

The Senator’s decision to retire reignites the question of age in politics. It comes as public concerns regarding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Diane Feinstein’s capacity to lead in office, as health issues continue to rise.

McConnell, 81 and serving his seventh term in Congress, has experienced two on-camera medical episodes in the last months after suffering a fall and sustaining a concussion in March 2023. During these episodes, he appeared to lose his train of thought mid-sentence, unable to continue responding to reporters.

Medical professionals, although unable to diagnose him from afar, observed McConnell’s behavior and believed the Senator was experiencing focal seizures or mini strokes, according to The New York Times.

Another long-time Senator, Dianne Feinstein, who is 90, has been exhibiting signs of short-term memory loss over the last few years. For example, Feinstein demonstrated a lack of understanding of her surroundings and did not notice that she was asking the same question during a Congressional hearing.

Her latest episode occurred during a vote on a military budget in late July. When it was her turn to vote, she paused for long enough that one of her colleagues had to interject and prompt her to “just say aye,” according to CBS News.  

Many young voters are becoming more concerned that the current government is not an accurate reflection of the U.S. population and does not handle present-day problems.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, the median age in the Senate is 65.3 years, with 54% of all members representing older generations, like baby boomers and Generation X.

The generational differences are most evident in areas of foreign policy, racial discrimination, immigration policies, environmental issues and social issues such as abortion access or LGBTQ+ rights.

Meanwhile, the United States Census Bureau reported that the nation’s median age is 38.9 years.

The older age of some lawmakers creates a problematic generational gap that leads to underrepresentation of younger voters rather than speaking for their experience or wisdom.

Most current legislators are at least one generation removed from the average voter. They won’t  relate or understand present issues that are important to more than half of the population today that they are meant to represent.

Most disagreements, disapproval or denial in political settings come from politicians who are baby boomers or in the Silent Generation.

Since there are no term limits for legislators, it is always their decision whether to continue running for re-election.When older lawmakers refuse to step down and leave room for the younger generation of legislators, they disregard the concerns of eligible voters.

Not having an accurate reflection of the American people and the current issues they face contributes to inefficient and slow progress in government.

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Alina Sluzhyvenkova, Opinions Editor
Alina Sluzhyvenkova is the Opinions Editor for The Ticker.
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