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posted on 18 August 2015

American Presidency: Starting at Age 55-65!

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In a previous post (Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years), I briefly described the Chinese Presidency, whose starting age range is 45-68.

In this post, I propose that the minimum age of the American Presidency be raised to 55, and preferably be capped at 65 (to start), in order to make the American Presidency more competitive with the Chinese Presidency, thus providing improved leadership for our country and future.

1. The U.S. Constitution

Here is an excerpt from the United States Constitution:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, andbeen fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

--- Article II, Section 1, Clause 5

How should we interpret it? Here is an excerpt from The Heritage Guide to the Constitution - Presidential Eligibility:

The Framers established these qualifications in order to increase the chances of electing a person of patriotism, judgment, and civic virtue.

2. Life expectancy

What was the U.S. life expectancy in 1787 when the U.S. Constitution was adopted? According to, it was 36 (1750-1800)!

What is the U.S. life expectancy today? Around 75!

The chart below shows the U.S. life expectancy change from 1895 to 2010. For more, read: World Climate Report - U.S life expectancy at all time high.

Two basic questions:

  1. Why is it that our life expectancy has more than doubled since 1787, but the minimum age for the American Presidency remains at 35?
  2. At what age is a person more likely to have better "judgment and civic virtue" today: 35 or 55?

Age matters! There is no substitute for experience! Judgment and civic virtue come from experience, which cannot be gained without the necessary investment in time!

Leadership matters! Any doubt? Look at the image below!

Unfortunately for America, we can no longer afford a “Learn as You Go” President. Yet, that is exactly what we have been getting, at least since Reagan! The damage to America by our less than capable and inexperienced Presidents is becoming existential and is threatening our future! If we don’t recognize the fallacy of our endless popularity contests for the President, with the electorate eagerly voting for anyone who promises the most hand-outs, we will inevitably be bankrupt.

Now, let's look at China, our rising chief economic and political competitor ...

3. The Chinese Presidency

I have already published on this subject (Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years). Here is a highlight:

  1. The starting age range for a Chinese President is 45-68, limited to two five-year terms. For example, both President Xi and his predecessor Hu took office at age 60.
  2. All recent Chinese Presidents have served as state governors and the Vice President before taking the top job in China.

4. Applying the Chinese system to America ...

Applying the working Chinese system to America’s failing one, there would have been neither President Obama (too young & too inexperienced) nor the likely Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (too old & too inexperienced – not being a governor)!

Wouldn’t we be in a better position, had they not been eligible?

Now, you might argue: what about two recent “great” Presidents - JFK (too young & too inexperienced – not being a governor) and Ronald Reagan (too old)? Both were war (i.e. Cold War) Presidents, and neither faced a real formidable economic and political competitor like China – Times have changed! Besides, history will not be very kind to JFK, thanks to his reckless Executive Order 10988, allowing public-sector unions that are bankrupting our cities and states one by one, until all is gone!

Finally, you might argue: “how about President Lincoln?” Lincoln served one term in the U.S. House, lost two elections for the U.S. Senate, and was managing his three-person law office before becoming the President! My answer is the same: “times have changed!” More openly, let’s accept President Lincoln as an exception, not the rule!

In short, in today’s world, we must better qualify the candidates for the office of the American Presidency, with the goal of consistently producing good and even great Presidents!

5. Discussion

In America, an inexperienced President with re-election in mind equals a total disaster, especially in today’s competitive world. Yes, both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama are proven disasters for America! For more, read: American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?

Are we just experiencing bad luck to have had at least two bad Presidents in a row? No, it’s The Political System, Stupid! The world has dramatically changed over the past three decades, but our political system has stagnated, spiraling toward failure. In other words, unless our political system is fundamentally changed for the better, the streak of bad Presidents will continue.

There is a popular argument: “experience is important, but age is not.” Unfortunately, experience is not quantifiable, but age is! Therefore, it makes sense to require a competitive minimum age of 55 for the American Presidency, without exception! After all, isn’t age 55 today like age 35 some 200 years ago on the life expectancy charts? In fact, age 55 becomes even more reasonable when it is combined with a one-term limit (e.g. six years).

Why six years? Because that’s more comparable to the successful Chinese Presidency, which is an earned kingship for 10 years! Why is the minimum age for the Chinese Presidency 45? The Chinese looked at our minimum age of 35 and thought it was too low! Why should we set the starting age range for the American Presidency to be 55-65? Because we need to improve further on the Chinese age range of 45-68!

Even with these changes, the American Presidency is still, by design, inferior to the Chinese Presidency. For example, unlike China, it’s highly unlikely that an American President would have served as both a state governor and a Vice President before taking the top job in the country. But this is a good start to improving America’s chances for success!

Finally, here is another big problem for America: we end up with a big club of former Presidents, who continue to damage America long after their bad Presidencies! Three examples:

  1. Jimmy Carter: ‘I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage’. Who does Jimmy Carter think he is – God? Apparently so!
  2. Bill Clinton raked in $100M in speeches over last decade. What a great way to enrich yourself as a former President! Worse yet, instead of being a statesman living above partisan politics, this former President has maximally enriched his family, both politically and economically, by selling political favors for huge personal gain (Top Hillary Clinton Fundraisers Also Big Donors to Foundation and Chelsea Clinton’s speaking fee: $65,000)!
  3. George W. Bush charged wounded vets group $100k for speech. Even Donald Trump has got this one right (Donald Trump Blasts George W. Bush, Jeb For Former President Being Paid $100K To Speak To Veterans In 2012)!

Now, look at this:

Sadly for America, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, times have indeed changed, for the worse ...

In contrast, look at this:

Still wondering why China's astrological rise coincides with our steep decline over the past few decades? Wonder not - It's The Political System, Stupid!

6. Closing

America, reform our political system as I have suggested (Solution for America (Version 3)), or become an also-ran, second to China!

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