‘Old Enough To Know Better’

afp/getty images/ globe staff illustration
Bernie Sanders, 77; Joe Biden, 76; Elizabeth Warren, 69; Donald Trump, 72.

Some candidates aren’t as old as their ideas

The Linda Rodriguez McRobbie article “Old Enough To Know Better” (Ideas, March 10) misses the main issue of 2020 or any other future presidential election. The problem is not antiquated politicians but antiquated political philosophies. John B. Anderson was a moderate Republican who challenged Ronald Reagan for the presidential nomination in 1980, and Anderson correctly pointed out, when asked to comment on candidate Reagan’s age of 69, that it was the outmoded conservative views that were the problem with Reagan and not his chronological age.

Donald Trump is merely the latest manifestation of the steady drift to the right of the Republican Party. What 2020, and any presidential election to follow, is truly about is, for the good of the country and of the world, to reverse this trend and bring America back into the 21st century.

There are many fine younger progressive candidates entering the Democratic race for the nomination. But to eliminate several older candidates based on the arbitrary criterion of chronological age would deprive voters in the primaries and in the general election of the privilege and responsibility of deciding which candidate in 2020 can once again get the country moving into the future.

Robert Buckland


Ageism by any other name


If the Globe wants honest controversy, it needs to start with an author without bias, and some basic mastery of the field she is entering. The McRobbie opinion piece aimed to attack Bernie Sanders for not being able to know whether he was compos mentis and capable of being president. Just because Donald Trump is incapable of self-reflection says nothing about the capacities of other people over a certain age.

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The author’s main fault is to generalize to all older people from the fact that some are cognitively impaired. “Science” says absolutely nothing about whether age should be an automatic disqualifier for higher office, and it is dishonest for a Globe editor to title McRobbie’s jejune article as if it would get an A in a high-school sociology or biology course. Every geriatrician knows that “When you have seen one old person, you have seen one old person.”

Margaret M. Gullette


The writer is the author of “Ending Ageism or How Not To Shoot Old People.”

He’s happy to be wise

As a 79-year-old man who is still able to count his marbles, I was delighted to see “Old Enough To Know Better.” It is very clear to me that a person in his or her late 70s simply does not have the mental stamina to make, say, 20 important decisions a day, decisions which affect many other people and could end up affecting the course of history.

In my own experience, my intellectual energy, as well as my powers of concentration and retention, remained strong into my early 70s. By about age 73, I discerned a distinct decline in my capacity to quickly and thoroughly absorb new information and make creative decisions. Simultaneously, as McRobbie’s article mentions, I feel my perspective on people and events has expanded, gifting me with a deeper understanding and a larger perception of patterns and connections in the world around me.

All that said, my experience tells me that most people my age, regardless of their experience or qualifications, are not mentally fit to be president.

Ross Gelbspan

Jamaica Plain