If it seems like elected leaders in the United States are getting older and older, it is not just your imagination. President Joe Biden, at 79, is the oldest president in U.S. history, surpassing his predecessor, Donald Trump, who—elected in 2016 at 70 years of age—is now second oldest. The current 117th Congress is also the oldest it has been in two decades.
A recent YouGov poll found that more than half of Americans support a maximum age limit for elected officials to hold office, and prominent public figures including Elon Musk and former President Jimmy Carter have expressed desires to see limitations put in place.
The question of “how old is too old” for politicians seeking public office is not often framed as a policy question, says Jeremy Paul, professor of law and former dean of Northeastern’s School of Law. But the question of whether there should be term limits, as opposed to age limits, might better address some of the concerns the public have with politicians—lawmakers specifically— clinging to positions of power for prolonged periods, or overstaying their welcome. “There has been a very robust movement in the country for term limits for a very long time,” Paul says.