Write a strong introduction that grabs readers’ attention. This is the first part of your essay that readers will read, so it’s important to establish your points of view and the topic you’re writing about.
The Founders of America wanted Presidents and other national leaders to have a certain level of maturity, gravitas, and experience. They also believed that voters could see these qualities in a candidate’s record.
To run for President of the United States, a person must be 35 years old at the time of their Inauguration. This is a requirement of the Constitution that was written in 1787 and went into effect in 1789.
The Constitution gives the President many powers, including commanding the armed forces of the United States and of the state militias when called upon; making treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; commissioning officers; and ensuring that laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed. The President is also able to veto legislation, though the Constitution stipulates that his veto must be overridden by two-thirds of the Senate.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times, most of which are referred to as the Bill of Rights, which offer specific protections for individuals and place limits on federal power. To help students analyze the Constitution and see how these principles affect the way government functions today, have them map the Constitution, represented by percentages of the total document in different colors, on handout 1. This is an excellent activity to do during a Constitution Day celebration.
The Age Requirement
In most countries, the age requirement is a factor when it comes to running for public office. For example, in Ireland people have to be at least 35 years old to be President, 25 to become a Senator and 30 to be elected to the Oireachtas (legislature).
In America, airline pilots must retire at 65, federal law enforcement officials at 60 and judges in some states at 70. And Congress is getting older, with the average age of a member at 58 and the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at 81.
However, the Constitution only says that a candidate must be at least 35 years old when they assume office. And a person can be over 35 when they run, as long as they are at least 35 when they take the oath of office. Whether or not it’s age or the stress of the job, Presidents do seem to age faster than other politicians.
The Age of Candidates
The Constitution lists no age requirement for those who want to become president, but polling data suggests that people are more comfortable with younger candidates than older ones. In a 2015 survey, 63% of people said they would feel enthusiastic or comfortable with a candidate in their 50s; just 4% of those 70 and over said the same.
Younger candidates like Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, and Seth Moulton are putting up strong campaigns on the promise of fresh ideas and new solutions. But the oldest candidates aren’t sitting down: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and William Weld could be the oldest elected presidents in history if they win.
Some youth rights groups see age requirements for certain elected offices as discrimination, but such challenges haven’t been successful in court. The question of whether or not age should play a role in the presidency remains a topic of debate. Historically, voters have thought that presidential and other national leaders should have some degree of maturity and gravitas, which would be difficult to evaluate in someone under 35.
The Age of Elected Officials
Despite the current climate of political division, there is one thing Americans on both sides of the aisle can agree on: Most people believe that elected officials should have age limits. According to a recent CBS News poll, 73% of voters support setting maximum ages for people who hold public office.
The Constitution states that a President must be 35 years old when they take office, Senators must be 30, and House members must be 25. There are no age requirements for Supreme Court Justices, though there is a mandatory retirement at 65 for federal law enforcement and airplane pilots.
Many people are concerned that our government is becoming a gerontocracy, a term used to describe a country run by elderly leaders. This is a concern that seems to be shared by both Republicans and Democrats, with even more support among young Americans. In fact, a majority of respondents in the CBS poll favored limiting the age of elected officials to 70 years old.