As time passes from the events of Mitch McConnells freeze-up, it only further highlights the impending urge to set an age limit for political leaders.
As time passes from the events of Mitch McConnell’s “freeze-up”, it only further highlights the impending urge to set an age limit for political leaders.
Photo Credit: Nicole Bianchi/Canva/Achona Online

Aging politicians are impacting our government

The recent health issues with Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, has brought an important controversy to the forefront ahead of next year’s presidential elections: should there be an age-limit for our political officials? 

In the past month, the news had been circulating over headlines featuring Mitch McConnell and the moments where he froze up during a press conference back in home state, Kentucky. Reporters were left silenced, unaware of the looming health conditions the senator had been facing at the age of 81.

Additionally, in the months leading up to his “freeze-up”, Mitch McConnell had reportedly taken a fall and a blow to the head at a hotel he was having dinner at in Washington. Though most senators and political leaders are in support for Mr. McConnells return as the Minority Leader for the Senate, much of the general public is still uneasy with the idea of his return back to Congress.

A letter from the Capitol physician, Brian P. Monahan was later released by McConnell’s office, saying that there is “no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.” 

Monahan later added that there would also be “no changes recommended in treatment protocols as you continue recovery from your March 2023 fall.” Yet by publicizing the words from the official physician of Congress on the latest update of Senator McConnell’s health, this only further creates a circulating environment of wariness that what the doctor may be saying is not all it seems in reality.

Politically, there are a lot of reasons to be mistrustful. 

One of the main priorities on every Senator’s agenda, from the very beginning of their term, is to be reelected for the next year. Disclosing such highly imperative reports would only cause much backlash to follow them for their attempts at being reelected, resulting in much fear and tensions with voters and fellow colleagues in their ability to make sane/rational decisions that will positively affect the nation. 

A similar health issue had occurred with former senator Dianne Feinstein, though a little differing within the two topics. 

During her sixth term, Feinstein had been suffering from being diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which occurs from an eruption of shingles that ultimately damages the nerves around the region of one of the ears.

The senator had later requested for a temporary leave of absence, which would allow the judiciary committee that she was a part of to still be able to follow its planned agenda. Though, this decision having been rejected by Republicans, only further setback Democrats in their goals to carry out many necessary reforms and plans in the year, including their goal to confirm federal judges being elected by former President Donald J. Trump.

The radical decision had only intensified the feelings and ideas from many colleagues and Senators of having Feinstein removed as she would be missing nearly two-months worth of crucial decision-making and discussion-worthy meetings with much on the table left to be accomplished.

But would the urge of reelection, of wanting to retain some form of power, be worth jeopardizing the nation from being able to have a senator fully aware and capable of passing such paramount forms of law?

When prying through the “Qualification and Terms of Service” for becoming a U.S. Senator, the following requirements are listed: 1) must be at least thirty years old, 2) hold a U.S. citizenship for at least nine years, and 3) must be a resident to the represented state. However, searching and scanning through requirements on being a senator only led up to one simple question in mind: is there a requirement on the age a senator shouldn’t be authorized to serve?: the answer is no.

In a recent study, by Nichole Lighthall, of the correlations between aging and decision-making processes, it was found that the “volume of gray matter in frontal and parietal regions of the cortex, which are important for making decisions, becomes vulnerable to shrinkage from neuron deterioration over time”, ultimately strengthening the argument on the decreasing capability of aging senators to make rational decisions in the senate body.

This only brings back the nation to its current issue on age limits for those running in Congress. The two trailblazing senators, Mitch McConnell and Dianne Feinstein, had accomplished many remarkable acts and sets of laws that they assisted in passing for their parties in Congress. 

Feinstein fought extensively in her battle for a ban on federal assault weapons and McConnell stood his battle on the issue surrounding his Employee Rights Act, which would allow for the labor laws in America to be better situated to the nation. Both fashioned extensively the form of government in which we are able to carry a voice and still have an effect on the laws passed today. 

Unfortunately, Feinstein has passed away September 29 at the age of 90 years old. Her years of service were formative to the development of our democratic government, and her determination and efforts will be revered by many to follow in her place. 

But, maybe, it’s time, especially with the 2024 elections approaching as a match up once again between President Biden (80) and Donald Trump (77)  for there to be a restriction on when to stop running for elected office. Maybe, age is a crucial aspect to take into consideration. Maybe, just maybe, the age of a political leader can drastically affect the entire way the government functions.

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  • samOct 5, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    love love love this article. amazing job! -an old achona editor 😉

    • Nicole BianchiOct 9, 2023 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! It means a lot to me!