BY RYAN SCAFURI
This next election cycle is an incredibly exciting one for many people, but for me especially it’s a massive occasion. During this next election I will be able to cast an official ballot for the first time. However, after researching candidates that I believe best represents the values I want to vote for, I have been disgusted by a revelation that young candidates are being disregarded by many, and their sole motivation is simply age.
Call me biased as a high school senior, but the fact that people are writing off current South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg solely due to age is absurd. Buttigieg is a two-term mayor of a city that is poised to hit a huge economic and social turn around in the next few years. A city plagued with housing issues has seen large strides made by “Mayor Pete.” According to Marketwatch, “The Buttigieg administration embarked on the most ambitious blight reduction effort in decades, meeting its goal of eliminating 1,000 abandoned homes in 1,000 days.”
This idea that somehow age is directly tied into the fitness of someone for office, or that just because someone is young they can’t be experienced enough for the job is a complete fallacy. In USA Today, they noted that Buttigieg himself says “he has more years of experience in government than Trump, more years of executive experience than Vice President Mike Pence and more military experience than the two put together.” The current president of the United States is a former host of the Celebrity Apprentice with no prior electoral history, but Mayor Pete isn’t “qualified” to run because he’s 37?
What might be even more remarkable is looking back through history to see the ages of some of the most important American figureheads. All the way back to the American Revolution, we have had young people leading the charge in American politics. Bonnie Kristian wrote a defense in The Week for both Buttigieg and young Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, commenting on their age. While mainly focused on AOC, her points are equally valid for Buttigieg. In it she says, “She’s older than at least three signers of the Declaration of Independence, and barely younger than Thomas Jefferson was — 33 — when he wrote it.”
Many will still argue that it is impossible for Buttigieg to have enough experience to be a president. This is a lazy and tone deaf argument that fails to look at the more important information. Maturity and experience aren’t things that just increase along with your age automatically; they increase as you work in government, work to pass legislation, and run in a campaign.
A solution to this problem is somewhat complicated to formulate; however I believe the media can help. Mainstream media helps form the political opinions of millions of people. So they are whom my solution lies in. Focus less, or maybe focus no attention to the age of the candidate. Instead focus on policy, their stance on issues, any relevant political history, and information that really has an effect in regards to fitness for office.
Again, we are talking about a man just short of 40 years old who is a war veteran, a two term mayor, and more years of political experience than the current president of the United States. I don’t want to form your opinion about who to for; that is not my decision to make. But I beg you, please do not make your decision based on a completely arbitrary number that means little to nothing.