Spread the love

Is there no one to replace Biden and Trump?

Photo: Mangel Ngan Agence France-Presse At almost 82 years old, Joe Biden is already the oldest serving president in the two centuries of existence of the American Republic.

Benoit Valois-Nadeau

Posted at 8:19 a.m. Updated at 6:24 p.m.

  • United States

In this section taken from the American Election Courier, our journalists answer questions from our readers. Click here to subscribe.

How to explain that, in a country of more than 300 million inhabitants, there was no one talented to replace Biden and Trump ? Where is the political succession in the United States ? — Jean-Marc Neault

The 2024 presidential duel pits two adversaries over the age of 75, a first in history.

At almost 82 years old, Joe Biden is already the oldest serving president in the two centuries of existence of the American Republic. If he is elected again next November, the Democrat will blow out 86 candles at the end of his second term.

His opponent, Donald Trump, will celebrate his 78th birthday next week, on June 14.

It’s not just presidential candidates who are part of the elderly.

Congress, which brings together the House of Representatives and the Senate, also has the air of a club from the golden age. The average age of senators is 64, while that of representatives is 57.9, well above the median age of Americans (38.8).

The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, is 73 years old, while his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, is 82. The two look like youngsters compared to the oldest American parliamentarian, Chuck Grassley, who , at well into his 90s, has represented Iowa in the Senate since 1981.

Conversely, there are only 2 senators and 36 representatives under the age of 40.

“The dictatorship of experience”

How to explain this domination of white heads at the top of the American democratic apparatus ?

Daniel Stockemer, full professor of political studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa, has studied the question.

Analyzing the 2020 House of Representatives elections, he came to the conclusion that younger candidates performed less well in elections, both in party primaries and in general elections.

The reason: “the dictatorship of experience”, explains the holder of the Konrad-Adenauer Research Chair in Empirical Studies of Democracy.

“Experience has become the main electoral argument, and young people, by definition, don’t have it. »

Parties are therefore less likely to choose them to represent them and to entrust them with winnable constituencies.

For example, those aged 40 and under only accounted for 7% of candidates in the 2020 elections.

In the words of Mr. Stockemer, young candidates are lacking “electoral capital”, a concept which brings together the experience of electoral campaigns and political office, contacts within the community, the party support and the ability to finance one's campaigns.

This under-representation of younger generations also causes “a significant democratic deficit”, according to Daniel Stockemer.

“Young people are not represented in assemblies, so neither are their ideas and concerns. Maybe we would talk more about gun control, climate change and student debt if there were more young people in Congress,” says the researcher, who does not hesitate to speak of a real “alienation politics” of young people.

As proof, only 23% of 18-29 year olds voted in the last election, compared to 52.2% of voters nationally.

“How to interest young people in politics when the candidates are the age of their grandparents or their great-grandparents ? […] It’s an entire political generation that we prevent it from emerging,” underlines Mr. Stockemer.

To encourage a renewal of the American political class, an age limit of 75 years should be imposed on candidates for elected office, as the Canadian Senate did a few years ago, suggests the political scientist.

The vast majority of Americans agree with him: according to a 2022 Reuters-Ipsos poll, 86% believe the age limit for the presidency should be set at 75 years old.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116