American Presidency: Raising the Minimum Age to 55!

July 15th, 2011
in Op Ed

Guest Author: Frank Li (Bio at end of article)

In two earlier publications, I briefly explained China’s political system in an American way and called for a raise in the minimum age for the American Presidency to 55. This article will focus on the age issue.

The Chinese constitution requires that the Chinese President be aged 45+. Because the Chinese President is also the General Secretary of the ruling CPC (Communist Party of China) and a member of its Politburo Standing Committee whose age limit is 68 (for entry), a Chinese President typically takes office at age around 60, limited by two terms (5 years/term). For example, President Hu (2 terms: 2003-2012) is currently 68, while the next President is Xi (2 terms: 2013-2022), currently 57.

Follow up:

With this kind of top-down age limit, plus a bottom-up laddered system for career advancement (e.g. governor->VP->President), a Chinese President is assured to have an optimal combination of experience (i.e. not too young) and judgment (i.e. not too old). Yes, both Hu and Xi served as governors as well as the VP, with a substantial amount of experience, both domestic and international, under their belt before taking the top job in China.

Applying China’s system to America, there would have been neither President Obama (too young & too inexperienced) nor Presidential Candidate McCain (too old & too inexperienced – not being a governor). Aren’t we better off that way? Now, you might argue: what about President Kennedy (too young) and President Reagan (too old)? Neither faced a formidable [economic] competitor like China – Time has changed! Additionally, history may not be very kind to President Kennedy after all, because he allowed the public sector unions (against whom? The United States of America?), which, as a “time bomb”, was doomed to explode in our face, as it is now, with the far worse yet to come!

On top of the quality of its leaders, China’s government today is far more pro-business than America’s, even per Steve Wynn (reference). Still wondering how and why China is well on its way to surpass America as the largest economy on earth by 2030? Wonder not! They have, overall, a [slightly] better system and [far] better leaders!

In America, an inexperienced President + re-election = disaster, especially in a competitive world today. Yes, both President Bush (W) and President Obama are proven disasters for America! Still unconvinced? Ask yourself: is there anything more fundamentally wrong than these two notions and the accompanying actions?

  1. “Spreading democracy” by war, as in Iraq [or Libya].
  2. “Spending our way out of this recession.”

Now, are we just experiencing bad luck to have two bad Presidents in a row? No, it’s the political system, stupid (reference)! The world has changed a lot over the past two decades, but our political system has not. In other words, unless our political system is fundamentally changed for the better, the streak of bad Presidents will continue.

One valid argument, as expressed to me by former House Speaker Hastert, is this: “experience is important, not age.” Unfortunately, experience is not quantifiable, but age is. Besides, experience cannot be obtained without the time to do so. Therefore, I prefer a competitive minimum age of 55 without a loophole. Oh, isn’t age 55 today like age 35 some 200 years ago on the spectrum of life expectancy? In fact, age 55 becomes even more reasonable when it is predicated by 1-term (e.g. 6 years).

Now, why is 1-term a must for America but China has two? Because America is a democracy, but China is not! An American President with re-election in mind works for no purpose but getting himself re-elected, causing a lot of damage along the way (reference)!

America can still be better than China, if she changes, minimally, as follows (in that order):

  1. Set 1-term (e.g. 6 years) for the Presidency.
  2. Raise the statutory requirements for the Presidency, such as being a full-term governor and minimally aged at 55.
  3. Set some term-limits for Congress, preferably 1-term of 6 years too.

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Emerging Economies: An Overview from 30,000 Feet by Frank Li

American Presidency: Why is 1-Term a Must? by Frank Li

America: It’s the Political System, Stupid! by Frank Li

What’s the Real Cost of the Iraq War? by Frank Li

10-Point Democracy Manifesto by Frank Li

Tiananmen Square by Frank Li

The Answer is Democracy; The Question is Why by Frank Li

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About the Author

Frank Li Frank Li is the Founder & President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action. Dr. Li writes extensively and uniquely on politics, for which he has been called "a modern-day Thomas Jefferson" (see page 31).


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