Candidates in US presidents – 70: does the age on the ability to run the country

Age leading candidates in the presidential election of 2020 is quite high. The President of the United States Donald Trump is already 73 years old, and his primary opponent Joe Biden — 77. In most other areas of work people in the eighth decade of life, usually retirement. For most of human history and still in most parts of the modern world, people often do not even live to that age. About it writes The Atlantic.

Кандидатам в президенты США - за 70: влияет ли возраст на способность управлять страной

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In March, the 95-year-old Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, said that the presidency requires that a person “had a flexible mind”, and that by 80 years, he did not feel able to do this job.

He joined the growing ranks of those who will support the upper age limit for presidential candidates, or for the destruction of gerontocracy, or to ensure that people had physical and cognitive abilities.

“You should be able to move from one case to another and adequately concentrate on each case and then to combine them,” said Carter.

The relevance of this issue for the current political moment is significant. Many neurologists and psychiatrists have expressed concern over the failure of Donald trump to hold the main train of thought. Compared to his public performances in previous decades in his speech traced the decline in the ability to reason and give the main arguments. Ten years ago he was able to utter these startling owl, and Carter.

Joe Biden remains focused on individual themes and ideas much more consistently than trump, but he slowly finds the right words than he was in the past. He sometimes deviates from the topic and talking nonsense. In September, responding to a question about racism, he said, “Turn on the radio, make sure that the TV — excuse me, — make sure that you have turned on the player by night… make sure children hear the word.”

Concerns about the age of politicians is not limited to presidential candidates. The average age of senators is 62 years. Mitch McConnell, 78-year-old majority leader in the Senate, has already lived more than the average male life expectancy in the United States (76,1 years). If the country believed in, say, retirement age social security at 66 years mandatory condition for ending the career in politics, this would mean a complete overhaul of the government. This would eliminate not only presidential candidates, but a large part of the Congress.

At a conceptual level, any hard limit creates many problems. In addition to justification of charges of age discrimination, age restrictions are difficult to defend on practical grounds. The age limit can be justified by lack of experience and competence in political matters, but, theoretically, a 110-year-old man can run the country.

At the same time, despite all the promises of modern science, it seems unlikely that the best approach to ensuring the ability of candidates to perform the duties is to rely on them to tell us what they are in order. Joe Biden reminded the crowd that with his age comes wisdom, and Donald trump said, “I’m so young. I can’t believe it, I’m the young man.”

In addition to these representations from the first person in health, the external evaluation process is opaque, arbitrary and optional.

The concept of “fitness for office” associated with the murder of 35 U.S. President John F. Kennedy. The transfer of power to Lyndon Johnson put a hypothetical question: what if Kennedy survived, but was in a weakened state? What if the bullet grazed his frontal lobe, he was admitted to hospital, but after that he was unable to hold a train of thought? What if he started making strange comments and to deny the existence of the moon? Such grey areas was the basis for the ratification of the twenty-fifth amendment in 1967. She created a way to eliminate the man who has been unable to serve the state.

The amendment was never acted. Instead, the idea of fitness for office was manifested in the usual presidential disclosure of medical records and annual medical examination. This process, however, is at best formal. After the election trump his doctor at the time when he was running for office, Harold Bornstein, said that the President has shown excellent condition.

“From the very beginning it was obvious that this test is not credible, says Marc Fisher, a Professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine. That was unprofessional and unacceptable as assessing the health of the President.”

What citizens really need to know about the health of their President

Most Americans diagnosed with chronic disease. Compared to the times Kennedy modern medicine, communication and transport allow to climb the political ladder, living in a variety of conditions. Vice President dick Cheney was suffering from an incurable disease of the heart, then got a brand new heart and continued to work in the political environment.

According to Katherine Bales, honorary Professor of the University of Arizona, the fundamental problem when it comes to fitness, the bottom line is not the age or physical health, and cognitive abilities. This is only very roughly correlated with age: the ability of each person is reduced at a later age, but the rate of decline varies greatly.

Light cognitive disorders often begin at age 60, but many people remain sharp in mind until the very end.

“People over 65 are the most diverse cognitive part of the population, says bales, who is studying speech, language and hearing. — Look at Nancy Pelosi, which is 80 years. She speaks clearly, slowly and in the subject.”

According to estimates by Fischer, just based on averages of the population, we can assume that a significant part of political leaders has a certain degree of disorder in the functioning of the Executive, which includes such things as decision-making. But the standard medical approaches such as blood tests or an MRI or CT scan, was not an effective way to identify cognitive problems.

The magazine articles of 2014 Fischer and his colleagues complain that the decline of cognitive functions in the political leaders we can only speculate. They suggested that newer “high sensitivity imaging of the brain” can improve the detection of deviations, but such technology yet.

Ophthalmologists from the medical school northwestern University Feinberg also suggested that the best detection of violations can be achieved by photographing our eyes. In the back of the eye is a thin nest of capillaries, the status of which may be a reflection of what is happening in the blood flow to the brain. However, retina and the brain are a secondary indicator — an indirect indicator of what really matters, the ability to think.

Currently, the most widely used test of neurologists for cognitive impairment is a basic screening test, known as the Montreal cognitive assessment, or MoCA — five-minute test of 30 questions which involves knowing where you are, drawing hours and determining the image of a tiger. The hardest part is to remember five words that you said to remember in the beginning of the exam. This test is designed to identify people who would be difficult to perform “daily activities”.

Last year, trump passed this test. At a press conference his doctor, Ronny Jackson said that the President dealt with him. But the test used to check the population for dementia, does not necessarily have the ability to work as President more than, say, passing the test to obtain a driving license. Anything less than a perfect score, cause for concern, but a perfect score says little to the public about the real possibilities of the candidate for the presidency of the country.

Cognitive testing for government work has long been done in the army. During the First world war, psychologists developed tests, known as alpha and Beta, to assess a person’s ability to follow instructions and process information. Even in time of great need in the military, the us military believed that it is necessary to know whether the person to perform the basic commands. The testing process has evolved into the current ASVAB, which is available for beginners. It is not intended to disqualify anyone, it is used to define what type of work a person can perform.

Of course, the testing process becomes more complicated for roles that are specific. The President must be good at many things, but do not have to be an expert in everything.

Problems in this process was recently clarified by the U.S. Department of defense. In 2016, was launched working group to develop a process of cognitive appraisal of the militants. The attempt failed, and the group reported the following year: “the Purpose of determining the cognitive status of military and forecasting performance in terms of training and operation has not been achieved”. He blamed the lack of evidence linking test performance with the performance in the field.

However, for pure leadership, some believe that the most important skills can be tested. Kim McCullough, Professor of communication Sciences and disorders at Appalachian state University, says that certain tests can help to assess the ability of the President.

While neurologists may soon get the tools to identify cognitive impairment in the early stages, speech pathologists already you can check. And there is no clearer way to evaluate than using language tests.

“Many tests can be provided to the candidates,” says Mackellar whose work is aimed at identifying lung cognitive disorders. The most relevant abilities are demonstrated through these language tests, namely the ability of cognitive processing, which show that man can synthesize complex ideas and to identify key issues.

“Language is knowledge in action, says Bales. — Simple tests can be effective”.

According to her, if you had only one test to assess cognitive status, it would be that you first need raskazachivaniya history. (In her example, a woman went into a grocery store and he had lost his wallet, but then someone found it and she returned it.) Then you ask simple questions about what people just heard. You ask the same questions immediately after the story, and then again after 30 minutes. Most young people with “normal” cognition get 15 correct answers out of 17 questions. Older people with normal cognition get one or two less in the second round.

The differences are striking in people with cognitive impairment. People with mild Alzheimer’s answer only half the questions right away, and only one the second time. People with moderate Alzheimer’s disease correct answer to the 2 questions and then no one.

Loss thinking or zabyvajici words does not necessarily indicate cognitive impairment. Some people are perfectly able to process and synthesize information, and the only difficulty is to quickly translate this into words.

Supporters of the policy may be rejected or protect the samples forgetfulness, believing that people don’t need to be eloquent to be able to function optimally as President. One could even argue that the President can be trusted in making a hasty or poorly informed decisions.

But that trust becomes more difficult when the President makes decisions that have no apparent basis in the interests of the United States and is widely condemned by both sides, as in the case of trump’s decision to withdraw its troops from Syria. The attractiveness of a functional cognitive test is that it would help the public to know whether the President clearly understood the consequences of his decisions and their alternatives.

“There is no gold standard for one assessment where you can have it all,” says Bailes.

But it suggests that some tests, such as the Cambridge neurological, Scale memory Veksler and Edinburgh test of social cognition, can be useful. Based on two decades of longitudinal studies she and her colleagues have also developed a test, which they proved sensitive enough to reveal differences among 55-year-old, who only begin to wonder, is anything happening with their memory. Known as the Arizona test for the detection of disorders of communication, or ABCD, it tests language comprehension and memory. It takes about 90 minutes, and it is more deeply immersed in things like reading comprehension, defining and delayed retelling of stories that tell of man.

In a recent study, the test was able to detect cognitive impairment in 55-year-olds before they began to progress to overt dementia. It does not test Executive function or the ability to solve problems, but can be combined with others that do. The whole process can take several hours and give a clear picture of cognitive fitness to work in politics.

No process will be perfect. But if suitability will remain a principle of the electoral process, tested, transparent assessment of knowledge may leave little room for ambiguity or politicization. The results can be communicated to the public in a way that would be more realistic than talking about the fact that people take pictures of the capillaries of the retina, and more important than knowing whether a policy or Lipitor ever had a appendectomy.

A standardized process may become a new tradition among presidential candidates, which actually has practical value. No the result will not be considered categorically exceptional. In any case, this testing process will be less arbitrary than the current restrictions on who can become President. To be 35-year-old and be born in the USA is a historical claim, which do not necessarily reflect the real abilities of the person. And the introduction of a new testing process could be.

Without such a process the problems of politicization and bias in medical assessments may worsen, not improve, as age-related factors have become increasingly prominent in policy from year to year.


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