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Should There Be An Age Limit For President?

06/20/2017 03:36 EDT | Updated 06/20/2017 03:36 EDT

Numerous commentators are obsessed with the question of what to do about the train wreck that is President Donald Trump. Today's equivalent of the medieval question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin appears to be how can Mr. Trump be removed from office?

Debates rage on about whether Trump can or will be impeached pursuant to Article II, Section 4 of the U. S. Constitution. Have his actions amounted to "Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors?"

Similarly, others enquire into the application of the provisions of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the situation at hand - i.e. - can Donald Trump be removed because he "is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office?"

I submit that all this is too little, too late. The damage has been done, the cat is out of the bag, the horse has left the barn, The Donald is in the White House and the nation is stuck with him for at least the next three-and-a-half years.

A much more important question is how can this situation be avoided in the future? In other words, how can we prevent someone like Trump from even qualifying for the office of President?

My modest proposal is to make a minor amendment to the Constitution and, in particular, to Article II, Section I, Clause 5 which deals with the eligibility requirements to become President. The current wording states, in part, that "neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall have not attained to the age of thirty five Years."

All that has to be done is to add the following words: "nor have exceeded the age of seventy years." In other words, if you're over 70, you can't be President.

Let's face it; once we hit our sixties, our faculties start to decline and by the time we hit 70, chances are we're failing on any number of fronts like hearing, seeing, reading and, most importantly, reasoning.

Do we really want someone suffering from such cognitive impairments to be running the country? Cast your mind back to the 1980s and the second term of Ronald Reagan, a post-seventy President who by that time was undoubtedly suffering the effects of dementia. Wouldn't it have been better to bar him from a second term than attempt the difficult task of removing him from office or, worse yet, suffer the consequences of his illness?

That's not to say that no one over 70 is capable of effectively performing as President but the odds of reduced capacity increase dramatically with every passing year. Rather than try to determine after the fact whether an incumbent should still hold office, let's just eliminate the possibility entirely.

We could, of course, pass what might be called a DMV Amendment requiring aging candidates to submit to an annual or biannual test to see if they're competent to carry out the duties of the office. But such an amendment would be hard to draft and even more difficult to implement and would likely be subject to partisan rankling.

It would be far easier to impose and enforce an age limit and 70 seems about right. Moreover, if such an amendment could be passed within the next two or three years, Donald Trump would be barred from seeking a second term.

For those who say this would be unfair, keep in mind that Trump's principal opponents from last year's race would also be disqualified. Three years from now, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would be well over 70 and thus out of luck.

This option has the added advantage of avoiding the appearance of partisanship or vindictiveness. It's not that we dislike or distrust Donald Trump; it's just that the safer course of action is to winnow out the aged from the Presidential candidate pool.

So let's get started now in passing the Twenty-eighth Amendment. Nothing personal, Donald; it's simply the right thing to do.