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There’s a saying: ‘Age is just a number’.

Yes, that’s a good and positive attitude to growing old. And never forget what the great writer George Bernard Shaw said: “You don’t stop laughing when you get old; you get old when you stop laughing.” But show some caution when you’re tempted to enter the athletic endurance event ‘Ironman’, at the age of 75 years. You ain’t what you were. Aircraft engines, during service, are overhauled two or three times, with parts replaced. We, humans, don’t enjoy that, though some of the ultra-wealthy are trying. As we get older, the brain, which controls every organ in the body, will contract; and deteriorate in performance. But it does happen at a different rate for different people.

Perhaps for the first time, age may be the most significant issue in the next United States (US) national election. That isn’t till next year but announcements about who is running – for arguably the most prestigious and influential job in the world – are making the news. Incumbent US President Joe Biden makes the most dramatic contribution from an age perspective. He’s standing again for president; and he’ll be at the tender age of 82 years if he gets in. Mind you, Donald Trump, out to win, will himself be 78.

A survey of potential voters in the US revealed that barely 50 per cent of Democrats wanted Biden to stand, but nearly 90 per cent will vote for him, now he’s said he’ll definitely stand.  That shows how wedded voters are to their respective political party. Whoever advised him to stand again for a further term of office? And it’s a rather sad reflection on the workings of the biggest democracy in the world that the Republicans will spend most of their time putting together the gaffes and other mistakes that Biden will almost certainly make in the election campaign. He made a few in the 2020 election; and he’s older now.


Quite amazingly, the US Constitution allows even a convicted criminal to run for office. So, despite his ongoing criminal trial, Trump is pretty safe there, provided he isn’t actually in jail when he has to take the oath of office! His personal behaviour and continuing arrogance, whether in or out of office, should be a serious red flag for voters. He is not remotely a man of the people. Born to a family of wealth, Trump has created an empire from that base of luxury and privilege, and inevitably attracting a lot of admiration. But that has not rendered him at all suitable for appreciating the values and needs of the ordinary man in the street. Yet, somehow, the link with the ordinary guy was what got him into the Oval Office back in 2016.

Biden hasn’t really impressed during his term of office to date. It makes you wonder – how can the biggest democracy of the world produce candidates of this calibre when so many Americans we work with are way into a higher league. Is there no meritocracy in the US? How do these Mr Averages get that high? I’m willing to bet a month of Biden’s salary that the presidents are purely figureheads. But couldn’t they have had better figures; and more attractive heads? Lol. In reality, it may just be that every US president has a team of highly capable individuals, working with a very low profile, informing and advising during most of the working hours. Some presidents are perhaps not decision-makers in reality. The ideal leader of a country is one who exudes inspiration and ability. Kennedy was one, Obama another. History reminds us continually of the Churchills, Gandhis and Mandelas.  


A US president can get away with just the inspiration, no better example being Ronald Reagan, a highly popular former actor and later US president from 1980 to 1988. The people loved him. He could look skilfully into a teleprompter, and he could act! And, when a highly respected biographer was engaged to write Reagan’s biography, the guy spent the first year coming up with virtually nothing. Mr Reagan’s family challenged him about this and asked why he couldn’t be putting together all of Reagan’s views. He replied, as politely as he could manage; “I’m afraid he doesn’t appear to have any.” The family was not happy.

Top politicians always need a bit of luck if they are going to make it or stay at the top. Amid the appeals for Biden to be tested for dementia, you see him jogging in a suit and office shoes after his medical exam, trying to look younger. But there is the danger that age will count significantly against him in the election, despite Trump being nearly as old. But seriously, how can the new president of the USA be taking the oath of office at the age of 82 when everyone else in the country is deemed unfit to continue in employment after reaching the end of their 60s. That is one of the great anomalies attached to arguably the top leadership position in the western world.

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