America’s population is growing older, especially as members of the large Baby Boom generation reach retirement age. But America’s aging is also having an effect on its politics and its institutions, argues Timothy Noah, employment and immigration editor for Politico.
Noah calls this phenomenon the “gerontocracy.”
“We have very old leaders in America, we have very old voters and the system of government is itself old,” Noah says. “The people who are running for president tend to be in the upper registers of age, and the president himself is rather old, as is the congressional leadership.”
He says during the Cold War, Americans used to criticize Russia’s aged Politburo, and argue that the Soviet government was out of touch with its people as a result.
“The median age of the Politburo when Brezhnev died in 1982 was 71. The median age of America’s top leaders [today] is 77,” Noah says.
He says he’s not suggesting that older politicians should retire, or that there should be term limits, but that more young people should get involved in politics to help compensate for the imbalance.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How cognitive changes caused by aging affected past presidents
– How older Americans vote, compared to other age groups
– Why age and experience are valuable for politicians, but can also be a liability
Written by Caroline Covington.