Scot Lehigh’s column, “Readers, should Biden run again?” (Opinion, Nov. 23) is a fair question to ask, and the answer should be based on several factors such as his record of accomplishment as president; his many years of experience working with Congress and with leaders of other nations; his commitment to democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law; and his physical and mental health. The last factors, physical and mental health, are appropriate regardless of the age of the candidate.
However, the subtext of the headline, “how big a factor will his age play in your voting decision,” is, or at least should be, immaterial. It reflects an aspect of ageism — discrimination that’s based on age.
Lehigh’s quotes from Democratic political leaders, Frank Bellotti and Bill Delahunt, were interesting. I think that Delahunt’s response that it should be a personal decision was appropriate, and it will be a largely personal decision by voters.
Bellotti, soon to celebrate the century mark, recently asked me my age. I replied, “79.” He said, “You’re still a kid!” His quote that Biden should not run seems to reflect more a concern that the president’s political views may cater too much toward the progressive wing and might be out of step with many centrist voters, Bellotti included.
To their great credit, those readers who responded in the comments section to the question of Biden running again did not focus on the matter of age. The comments were mostly aimed at political agreement or disagreement on issues with Biden.
For the few commentators who did show some ageism, it’s clear that we need to improve the public’s understanding of what aging means and the many ways that older people contribute to our society. This greater understanding will counter ageism and guide our nation’s approach to ensuring supportive policies and programs for us all as we move through the life course.
We all need to remember that we are all aging. This understanding will lead to support for the policies and programs that we all need to thrive at every age.
Richard T. Moore
The author is a former Massachusetts state senator who chaired the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and is a cofounder and legislative chair of Dignity Alliance Massachusetts.