It’s About Time We Stop Electing Invalids to Congress (and the White House)

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We need to start discussing the caliber of individuals we choose to represent us. Despite suffering from cognitive issues resulting from a stroke almost a year ago, John Fetterman was elected as senator by the voters of Pennsylvania. He has been out of the Senate more than he’s been in, having spent many weeks hospitalized for depression. He’s been released and is reportedly returning to the Senate soon, but he’s missed a lot of votes.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been absent for over a month due to shingles, and there are concerns about her alleged mental decline, prompting questions as to why she hasn’t retired, as her absence has hindered the Judiciary Committee’s ability to vote on judicial nominations because Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) won’t take up the nominations because they’d lose on the committee vote.

This, frankly, is good news from where I sit, but it nevertheless shows the very real problem absences are having on the functioning of the closely divided Senate. Heck, most Democrats know that Joe Biden is several fries short of a Happy Meal®, and yet while they don’t want him to run in 2024, he nevertheless leads in all the Democrat primary matchup polls because why not? He’s there. If Biden’s going to run, Democrat voters don’t care that he barely knows what’s happening most of the time.

Keep in mind that the same people who are willing to accept Joe Biden as the most powerful man in the country despite his blatantly apparent cognitive decline were constantly questioning the mental health of Donald Trump, who is as sharp as a tack compared to the dull spoon that is Joe Biden’s repeatedly misfiring brain. And we’re all suffering for it.

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Related: The Democrats’ Senate Majority Is Hanging by a Thread

It’s worth noting that this issue isn’t limited to just the Democratic Party. While absences are a common occurrence, the Senate is struggling to function due to both cognitive problems of certain members. The electing of mentally impaired politicians is hardly a new phenomenon either. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) was rumored to be senile back when I was in high school, yet ultimately served in the Senate up until his death at age 100 — after I’d graduated from college.

The average age of representatives in the 117th Congress (2019-2023) was 58.4, and the average age of senators was 64.3. The current Congress is only slightly younger, but the average age has trended upward for decades. I’m not saying that when it comes to politicians, younger is necessarily better (I’m looking at you, AOC and Madison Cawthorn). There are plenty of mentally astute politicians in their 70s and 80s, but there are also additional concerns associated with their advanced age. For example, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is 81 years old, was absent for weeks following an injury he sustained from a fall last month.

It is crucial that voters take responsibility for the quality of the politicians they elect and demand new blood in politics. This means electing candidates based on their qualifications, ideas, and vision for the future rather than simply their party affiliation or name recognition. The status quo isn’t working.

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