An age limit conversation sparked across the country after Sen. Mitch McConnell froze in front of reporters, calling his age and health into question.
On Aug. 30, McConnell froze for over 7 seconds after a reporter asked about the possibility of a reelection campaign. In these moments, his aid apologized and tried to help the senator.
“I would say it’s disappointing and frustrating to see,” said junior Megan Johnson. “People like McConnell are in really high places of power, and so, with that, it’s sad to see them in poor health conditions.”
This is not the first time McConnell has had an episode. He froze for the first time in July for 19 seconds during a news conference.
“Freezing up like Mitch McConnell [did] is alarming,” said junior Michael Mitchell. “But it’s also sad because…it’s about his health. It’s sad to see that he’s at that point.”
These occurrences have sparked discussions regarding the age of those in Congress. McConnell is 81 years old, but he is not the oldest American senator. Currently, the oldest senator is Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California at the age of 90.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the average age of the Senate is 64, the oldest ever recorded.
“I think a lot of politicians are too old,” Johnson said. “I think Nikki Haley was pretty spot on with saying ‘the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country.’”
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah announced Sept. 13 he would not be running for reelection in 2024, calling for a younger age group to be present in government.
“At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s,” Romney said in a video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders. They’re the ones who need to make the decisions to shape the world they will be living in.”
Romney has served as a senator since 2019 and plans to leave the Senate in January of 2025.
“[Romney] has been in office forever, it probably wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Mitchell said. “I’m not confident they’re gonna elect someone that’s less extreme than him, but at least it’s hopefully going to be passed to another generation and younger leaders.”
A survey by data analytics company YouGov revealed 58% of adults in America believe a maximum age limit should be instituted.
“When you get a lot of the older generation, you don’t really see a wide spectrum of beliefs,” Johnson said. “These people grew up in a different generation than we’re in now, so it would be nice to see representation from other age groups. I think ideas and ways of thinking are changing, so it would be nice to see those represented in Congress.”
Opponents of age limits believe there are benefits to older, more experienced politicians.
“As of now, I don’t think there should be an age limit,” said junior Will Blevins. “There are a lot of positives for age limits — it allows younger generations to have their voices heard. But having no age restrictions allows for people who have been there longer and have more connections and [experience].”
Term limits are often seen as an alternative to age limits, as they allow for a wider scope of experience.
“I think another good idea would be term limits put in place,” Johnson said. “I think [term limits] would be another good way to combat that issue. We have it in the executive branch, so why don’t we impose that on all the other branches?”
Maria Heath contributed to this article.