Opinions

Geriatric grievance

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John McCain is going to die. Though the same can be said for most of us--unless the secret to eternal life is found, and even then, biological matter will still likely decay and our bodies will have to be replaced with robots--the difference between the Republican nominee for president and most of us 20-somethings is that McCain is going to die soon. In 3.29 years in fact, if he is an average American male according to the CIA World Factbook.

This is distressing for anyone in the U.S. ready to mark an 'X' and elect him president of the world's only superpower. Though McCain made attempts recently to display a clean bill of health--or as clean a bill of health a man who has been a POW, in three plane crashes and survived cancer would have--the manner he chose to do so hardly puts the mind at ease. McCain allowed around 20 reporters three hours to view over 1,000 pages of his medical records. The reporters weren't allowed to photocopy any of the documents or remove any of them from the room. This hardly counts as full disclosure. Though presidential candidates aren't required to release medical information--Bill Clinton didn't discuss his health until his second term, maybe because of an embarrassing case of "cat-scratch fever" caused by First Cat Socks--when a candidate is so close to the doorstep of death (or the average age of death, relative to other hopefuls), everything should be done to be open and ease the minds of the public.

Perhaps an aged president would be easier to accept if the potential second-in-lines were more qualified. Of the Republican nominees for president, McCain was the least flawed. Mike Huckabee was either one of the top-five governors in the U.S. during his stint in the governor's mansion in Arkansas, according to Time magazine, or one of the 10 most corrupt politicians in America, according to Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog organization. Mitt Romney was ready to abandon plenty of his political views to be more in line with traditional Republican doctrine during his campaign for the nomination.

All candidates have good and bad sides, but the flaws of the Republican candidates largely outweigh the positives. Obviously vice-presidential nominations don't necessarily have to come from failed nominees, but with such a weak field produced for the presidency, the vice-presidency doesn't seem likely to drive any better candidates out of the woodwork.

The icy hand of death will one day carry us all into oblivion. For John McCain, that day is probably sooner than most and, should he be elected president come November, the upheaval his death would bring is of concern to everyone. To put the public's mind at ease, his campaign needs to have an open-book policy on his medical records and a viable selection for vice-president.

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Comments

Experience != Age.

It's talking about his age, not his experience. There's a difference. One helps you make decisions, the other makes you dead.

Now the problem is that McCain has too much experience? Please get a grip on your own biases before professing them to everyone else.

Yes, and the other candidate consumes cancer sticks.

If we expect our democratically elected leaders to be perfect people as trustees, we could not simultaneously expect great representation as they would be freaks unlike the rest of us flawed creatures.

While it's true that age does not imply experience, it's also impossible to gain experience without living in the world, which co-occurs with the passage of time. Both the Canadian and U.S. federal systems of government impose lower age limits on certain elected offices in recognition that age is necessary (but not sufficient) to make important decisions, and both judicial systems place upper limits on age with respect to individuals presiding over high courts.

Neither system of government has, however, in centuries, imposed an upper age restriction on the chief legislative or executive roles.

As was pointed out above, age is a biological fact. Like gender, race, height, etc. age is not under the direct control of the individual. And even though age is indisputably related to diseases such as Alzheimer's, organ degradation and other specific medical conditions that could impair performance of duties as a national leader, age on its own has no such effect on leadership ability.

Using statistical data to limit individual participation in the political process is equally absurd for the reason that averages and life expectancies speak to some group within the population, and not specific individuals.

Almost all parties oppose gerrymandering electoral districts to include or exclude particular statistically defined demographic groups. The use of biological measurements to determine fitness to participate in public or commercial life was famously tried in the previous century, to universal condemnation.

As a freedom-loving society, we abhor the idea of formally imposing prior restraints for fear of what may happen in the future, based only on biological condition. We impose strict penalties on police officers who target visible minorities in affluent areas, and on landlords who refuse to rent to single moms based on misconceptions about the link between biological condition and ability to meet abstract financial requirements.

To attack any professional based solely on their natural biological circumstances without substantiating how such circumstances may affect the performance of their duties is simply an act of age discrimination.