Ageism has no place in assessing political leaders

It’s fair to ask questions about the mental health of the most powerful person in the world, but some of the messaging around Donald Trump’s fitness is flirting with ageism. No one would be allowed to make assessments about a political leader based on race or gender, but it seems okay for everyone to jump to conclusions about anyone older than 70.

If they stumble, physically or verbally, people start to assume their past their best before date. Some people openly speculate about Alzheimer’s, even if there’s been no reliable evidence to support even an amateur diagnosis. The unfair expectation that older people are automatically in decline has been applied to more than just Trump.

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden have faced it as well. Let’s not forget there are many people still performing important leadership roles well into their 70s, while others who are in their 40s and 50s may not be suitable for high public office. We should start judging people on their individual abilities and attributes and stop assuming that anyone over 70 is automatically on the verge of cognitive decline.

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