Bernie Sanders Is Not Too Old
If someone says otherwise, here is how to respond
I hear people say all the time that Bernie is too old to be President, the moment has passed, it's time to pass the baton, etc.
This is demonstrably wrong. Here are six reasons why:
FIRST, do not embrace prejudiced stereotypes about seniors. We know not to say that somebody is disqualified from being president because they are black, gay, female, or Jewish. Age-based attacks will sound just as bigoted in a few years.
Instead, focus on whether Bernie has the ability to do the job. There's no doubt that being President requires stamina, good judgment, and a sharp mind. And some people, as they get older, become physically or mentally frail.
But unless we are prepared to say that Bernie lacks the capacity, then his age doesn't matter. And it's pretty obvious from seeing him in action that Bernie has more strength, stamina, brains, and commitment than most Americans.
SECOND, whether Bernie Sanders is the best choice for President depends largely on who are the alternative candidates. Even if Bernie brings some limits to the position, so does everybody else -- just different kinds of limits. Young people can bring an admirable fire and independence to the table -- think about Tulsi Gabbard or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- but they may lack the wisdom, experience, and earned courage to successfully challenge the most powerful interests in the world.
THIRD, the very meaning of old age changes over time. Steve Jobs died in his early 60's, and Jim Henson in his early 50's. But others remain vital well into their 90's. And every year, as technology improves, lifespan and healthspan do, too.
FOURTH, others have done it. The closest match, of course, will be Nelson Mandela, who became President of South Africa at the age of 77. No one in South Africa would have said Mandela was too old to be President; instead, they would have said that he was the only one capable of uniting a nation that had been torn to pieces by a bitter civil war. Sound familiar? Mandela lived to age 95.
FIFTH, people can die or become infirm at any age. The Constitution anticipates this with two provisions. First, a Vice-President is ready and standing by at all times. Second, the 25th Amendment handles succession due to incapacity. So if you are really, genuinely concerned that Bernie might die or become incapacitated, just make sure he chooses the second-best candidate as his vice president.
SIXTH, finally, and most important, the ONLY circumstance in which age might be a legitimate consideration is if there were ANOTHER candidate equally good or better, but younger. That is not our situation.
It is pretty clear that if America is going to pull out of its tailspin and reverse decades of disastrous government policy, we need a leader who excels in three particular areas.
First, our candidate must have the proven courage to challenge the big corporations and billionaires that have taken over our government.
Second, our candidate must have the judgment and skill to take the helm of an economic and military superpower at its most turbulent moment.
Third, our candidate must have some plausible distance from the corrupt apparatus of the two major parties, in order to project moral authority and to attract independent and disillusioned voters. Trump's perceived political independence was a crucial component of his pitch. To beat Trump will require a convincingly independent populist.
And so there is our problem:
Any candidate with the skill and experience to challenge the Establishment will at least appear to be, and probably in fact be, compromised by the very Establishment that needs to be challenged.
And any candidate with demonstrable independence certainly will lack the both the experience to tackle the problem, and the record to make their promises believable.
So the biggest problem with dismissing Bernie because of his age is that there is not a comparable candidate available at this time in history.
I like Elizabeth Warren fine, and she takes on the banks, but her program is not a fraction as deep or as broad as Bernie's. They aren't the same. They didn't team up in 2016 for a reason.
I like Barack Obama fine, too, but he was not a fighter, and we need a fighter.
I like Joe Biden fine, but he is a neo-Liberal. And if you are worried about age, Joe is about the same age as Bernie.
What Americans should do is figure out who is the best person at this moment in history to get America back on track, and then fight like hell to get that person elected.
And if you think that person might drop dead or get hit by a bus -- no matter their age -- then make sure they choose the best vice president possible.
But do not let irrationally elevated fears blind us to our best shot.
Right now, America needs its best shot.
And we are not throwing away our shot.