Biden and Trump oldest Presidents in America's history: How we got here

Probiotic Dan

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Joe Biden and Donald TrumpPhoto byKrassotkin/Wiki commons
...in America’s over-200-year-history, only five men were ever elected President when they were above the age of 65....Despite making up only 23.7 percent of the total population, the Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) generation controls 49 percent of the members of the US Congress

In the film No Country for Old Men, the Sheriff has this to say about the deteriorating state of his county: “When you begin to overlook bad manners. Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam, the end is pretty much in sight…”. On that note, bad manners is what we do on any comment section out there…from all political, woke, and non-woke factions.

This back and forth might have led us to ignore or probably miss a very unusual development in American politics right now.

We have an 80-year old President in Joe Biden, and a 77-year old Republican leader in Donald Trump.

Our definitions and understanding of elderly men might differ. However, the UNHCR considers anyone over the age of 60 an “older person”. On the other hand, the National Health Institute considers people over 65 to be “elderly”.

Anyone else has their own definition of elderly. However, for purposes of this analysis, we will consider anyone over the retirement age, elderly.

Back to the hot topic. Two times in a row, America has elected elderly presidents, which is very unusual.

In fact, in America’s over-200-year-history, only five men were ever elected President when they were above the age of 65.

Technically, James Buchanan, the only life-long bachelor President, had just hit 65 years in the year of his inauguration in 1857. On the other hand, after being sworn in as President at 68 in 1841, William Harrison died after just 31 days in office.

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List Americas Presidents' ages during their inaugurationPhoto byScreenshot

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List of America's Presidents ages during their inaugurationPhoto byProbiotic Dan/data from potus.com

What I am trying to say is that in the last 160 years, America has only inaugurated three elderly men (above 65 years) as President. You probably know all of them: There was Ronald Regan in 1981, Donald Trump in 2017, and Joe Biden in 2021.

How Old Are American Presidents?

The median age of an American President during inauguration is 55.5 years according to the POTUS website. If we were to be a bit petty and exclude the last two Gentlemen to assume office from this math, the median age would go back to 54.6. This means, between the two of them, they add about a year to the average age of the American President.

When it comes to the other elected politicians, the Library of Congress reveals that at the start of the 117th Congress, the average age of House members was 58.4 years, and the average age of senators was 64.3 years. This average has also been increasing in the last few election cycles.

For instance, back in 1981, the average age of a Representative was 49 and the average of a Senator was 53. Therefore, it means that both Senators and Members of the Congress have been holding on to their seats more deliberately than in the past. This would also explain why we have two top leaders who are hanging on to their power at all costs.

In terms of political parties, House Democrats are 58.1 years old on average, whereas House Republicans are 57.4 years old on average according to the Pew Research Center. Democrats in the Senate have a median age that is about the same as Republicans' (65.4 vs. 65.3).

So, wherever you choose to throw your vote it is likely that an elderly candidate will catch it.

Which Generation Is Dominating the American Politics?

Despite making up only 23.7 percent of the total population, the Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) generation controls 49 percent of the members of the US Congress according to data from the Library of Congress.

In contrast, Millennials, who make up close to 25% of the US population, only have a 12 percent representation in Congress. In Congress, Generation X (born 1965-1979) has 179 seats, the Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) has 30, and Generation Z (born 1995-2012) just has one representative.

From this data, Baby Boomers are dominating this hood. President Trump himself is a proud member of this generation. President Biden on the other hand, is from that Silent Generation but a good number of his compadres are from the Baby Boomer stronghold.

What Usually Makes America Elect Older Presidents?

Is it the economy, is it war, is it global affairs? The data is mostly inconclusive and, there seems to be no clear pattern as to why America elects an older President.

For instance, William Henry Harrison (68 years old), Elected in 1840, rose to the top because of his image as a war hero and he provided an answer to Andrew Jackson. On his part, James Buchanan (65 years old) was mostly favored because he did not take clear a stand on slavery, wanting the South and North to keep doing what they were doing. Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump both promised to restore America to its former glory.

When it comes to younger Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt (42 years old), became the youngest president ever in 1901 following the assassination of President William McKinley.

However, it is important to note that in recent times, it is mostly Democrats who have intentionally elected younger presidents including, John F. Kennedy (43 years old), Bill Clinton (46 years old), and Barack Obama (47 years old). In all these occasions, they made a lot of noise about change and such. It is also good to note that they also gave us the oldest President in America’s history.

Conclusion

The United States is not in the habit of electing older presidents. However, when it happens twice in a row, we have to dig deeper in history and see what is happening.

On average, the American President in 55 and some months on top. The dominance of the Baby Boomers and the fact that leaders are hanging more dearly to power might have something to do with this new trend.

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Probiotic Lifestyle ambassador and Philosopher. Get wise or die trying!

Boston, MA
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