We Need Younger Presidents

Note: This article was written before the election.

Americans have had the phrase, “this election is unlike any other”, buzzing in their ears almost as loudly as the fly on Vice President Mike Pence’s head. However, when you take a closer look at the two presidential candidates, the race mirrors presidential elections of the past-two old white men fighting to lead a diverse nation of people.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s policy proposals waver constantly and it is hard to believe that even he knows where he stands on certain issues. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, makes his placement on the political spectrum very clear. He’s so right wing that he might as well fall off the spectrum entirely.

Based on their stances on prevalent issues, it is clear that the candidates have passed their prime. Biden will be 78 years old if elected and Trump will be 74.

The candidates’ old age is a problem because of their outdated opinions. We have lived through yet another year in America marred by racial injustice. At the end of May, thousands of protesters gathered across the country demanding justice for the deaths of George Floyd and many other Black Americans at the hands of police.

Biden has called for changing systems and implementing police reform in America since the killing of George Floyd. During the Democratic National Convention, he explained that he believed most cops were good and that we needed to do a better job of rooting out the bad ones.

However, younger voters and politicians have different opinions about how America should deal with the police.

“What I’m concerned about is the continued conversation about it being a few bad apples as opposed to systemic racism in the system,” Jamaal Bowman, a young Democrat running for New York’s 16th congressional district said, according to the New York Times. “Part of our issue is recognizing that racism is not an individual-to-individual problem, it’s our system. It’s part of America’s DNA because we’ve never reckoned with our history of slavery.”

Trump, on the other hand, has disregarded the Black Lives Matter movement. He expressed hopes to enlarge the police force and preached “law and order” in America, according to NPR, proving once again that he is blind to everything that doesn’t affect him personally. He has only just denounced members of the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups after declining to at the last presidential debate.

One Harvard Westlake student believes that having young people in office is vital. “The future of our country starts with younger people,” Ryder Katz ’25 said. “Having a president who supports causes that will affect us and the generations to come is essential.”

Millennials and Generation Z are the future. We will have to live with the decisions made by the victor of the election. The Silent Generation and Baby Boomers will be gone in the next couple of decades, so the question that needs to be answered is: why are we settling for candidates with outdated ideals?

There are many issues where a majority of voters don’t align with either candidate’s stance, and are forced to settle. The candidates represent age demographics that make up much less than half of all voters, according to Pew Research. Headlines of the LA Times read “Who did this worse” more often than not.

Some may make the argument that having older people in office is better due to their experience. This argument, however, is only valid in certain situations. President Trump had zero experience in politics before he was elected president, so he is a case where age and experience are not correlated. Biden on the other hand, while old, has experience working in politics. The question that needs to be answered, though, is if that experience outweighs the risk of his declining health.

Considering this, why did the Democratic party nominate Biden? He was one of the only centrist candidates, which was key when trying to get Republican voters to vote across party lines. He was also a friendly face and warm reminder of the stable Obama administration that seems like it was a lifetime ago. Joe Biden is a man of the people.

What the Democratic party failed to realize, or just ignored about their nomination, was that Biden is yet another cookie cutter politician.

America needs inspiration. We need a leader with a fresh viewpoint who is willing and able to unite the country and mend our fraying democracy. Our only hope for the future is to stop reaching for the past and to elect people to our government who will make necessary changes. We need to fight for those who have lost the opportunity to fight because of a virus that has killed thousands and a pandemic of racism that has cut so many lives too short.

We may have been stuck with lackluster options this past presidential election season, but we must take this as a lesson for the future. Don’t just settle. Vote for the change makers. Vote for the inspirers. Take a chance on someone fresh and new with an outside perspective. Only then can we bring our nation forward.

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