Since the end of the Democratic primary elections in July of 2016, Bernie Sanders has remained in the public spotlight. He has been one of the most prominent and outspoken figures in the push to save Obamacare and expand to a Medicare-For-All policy. He has been part of an effort to create unity in the terribly fractured Democratic Party, going on a multi-city tour with the DNC chairman Tom Perez. He has campaigned and endorsed many candidates for office, including his primary rival, Hillary Clinton.
Some pundits are speculating that he is positioning himself for another shot at the White House in 2020. It makes sense; Sanders is continuing to support progressive policies that are extremely popular with the American public, while simultaneously admonishing the failures of corporate centrism in providing security for the working class. And he’s definitely using the considerable pull he has since his rise to political stardom throughout the election cycle to shift conversation about the issues into a “people before profits” direction. Add to this the fact that Sanders has been asked directly about a 2020 run, and has refused to answer “no”, one could see how such speculations make perfect sense in some circles.
But what doesn’t make sense is this persistent narrative that when the 2020 elections roll around, Bernie Sanders will be too old. Forget the fact that he makes speeches at appearances throughout the country on a regular basis, traveling and campaigning with almost as much fervor as he did during the primaries. Pay no heed to the fact that some politicians and office holders don’t do even half the amount of work that Sanders does in a given week. And, we can even ignore the fact that it is visibly evident that he is in above average health for the average American at 75-years-old.
By the time the general election rolls around in 2020, the Senator from Vermont will be 79. That’s obviously no spring chicken, but as of right now, it seems that he still has a lot more spring in his step than many will give him credit for. But, setting that to the side for now, let’s go on just age alone. Sure, 79-years-old may sound ancient, but is it really too old to be president of the United States?
Well, lets look at the person who would almost certainly be his opponent in 2020. Barring an impeachment, which looks more like an inevitability than a possibility with every passing day, Donald Trump will likely be the Republican candidate. It’s unlikely that the GOP will want to bet on another horse when the one they have is already a proven winner in the race (as debatable as his win may be, he’s still the current president). Right now, Donald Trump is 71-years-old. By the 2020 election, he will be 74. That’s not really that much younger than Bernie would be. So, is 79 too old, but 74 isn’t?
What if Trump isn’t president in 2020? What if they primary him and he loses to another Republican candidate? Well, politics can often be predictable, but as we saw in 2016, when it’s unpredictable, it’s really unpredictable. There is certainly a lot we can speculate on, but the only name we have to look at as of right now is the man who would be successor in the event of an impeachment that resulted in Trump’s removal from office: Vice President Mike Pence.
Currently, Mike Pence is quite a bit younger than both Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. In November of 2020, he will be 61-years-old. The “Bernie is too old” argument might make sense here, if Pence was the actual confirmed candidate for 2020, but he isn’t. Trump is, and will remain so unless and until he is removed from office. But, this isn’t the only thing that blows a hole in the age argument.
There have been a lot of names being kicked around by Democrats and media pundits about who may run for president on the Democratic ticket to oppose Trump in 2020. Many of them are fresh faces in the political arena, and several years younger than Bernie Sanders is. However, one of the most prominent names being thrown around, and one of the most viable of all the potential candidates aside from Sanders, is that of former vice president Joe Biden.
Since Donald Trump was inaugurated on January 20, many people have lamented the exit of the Obama administration. As the former number two to Barack Obama, former vice president Joe Biden would have the popularity to make a serious run at the White House. Add to that his diplomacy and experience with eight years at the White House under his belt already, he would certainly give Trump a run for his money. He may even be a serious contender against Sanders if that was the Democratic primary match-up. But, while we’re on the subject of age, and who is or isn’t too old to run for president, it’s important to note here that Biden is only one year younger than Sanders. By the time election day got here in 2020, Biden would be 77, turning 78 just a couple weeks after the next president is named.
There are plenty of younger potential candidates out there on both sides of the aisle, not to mention the countless third-party candidates that will surely be popping up in 2020. And Biden, Trump, and Sanders are all well into their golden years, to be sure. But, there seems to be only one name we hear when it comes to age concerns, and that would be Bernie Sanders. Trump is obviously a serious contender for 2020, and if we’re going to treat Biden as one, then it’s long past time to give up on the “Sanders is just too old” narrative.
[Featured Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]