Join the fight against ageist stereotypes

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, stands as the fourth most popular democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election, according to democratic polls last updated Dec. 3.

However, Buttigieg is the youngest democratic candidate and his age has shown to be a concern for some citizens. By basing their opinions on the presidential candidate on his age alone, people are not considering him as a candidate holistically.

Since he launched an exploratory committee in January and his official campaign in April, the mayor of South Bend, Ind. has been judged on his age rather than his experience or campaign.

Opinion columnist for the New York Times Frank Bruni is one columnist who has made it a habit to share his opinion on Buttigieg’s youth.

In his column “The Agonizing Imperfection of Pete Buttigieg,” Bruni highlighted what he was looking for in a democratic candidate, but noted Buttigieg disappointed him for many reasons, including his age.

“But, ugh, that age,” Bruni said in this column. “My wish for a young candidate didn’t mean a 37-year-old one. There’s much wisdom in this life that’s accrued only with the passage of years, and he’d be better off — and significantly less vulnerable in a general election — if he had even five more of them.”

Michael Falcone of Lancaster, Pa. wrote Bruni, who published a condensed and edited version of Falcone’s letter in his weekly newsletter sent on Nov. 20.

“There are different types of age: chronological, physical, emotional, intellectual and social,” Falcone said. “Most of the time those individual components of age are not confluent in any one person.”

In his letter, Falcone went on to highlight successful politicians in history who achieved great successes when they were 37 or younger. Some of these examples included Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence at 33 and even Alexander the Great conquering continents before dying at age 32.

Buttigieg’s chronological age should not be the only factor in which people describe him (or his sexuality for that matter).

Age has also affected many voters’ opinions on former vice president Joe Biden. Experience and health are both valid concerns that could be tied to one’s age, but these characteristics are not dictated on age alone.

When considering which candidate resonates with you the most, do not limit them to one characteristic.

Voters should do their research and learn more about a candidate as a whole before judging them on matters such as age. His political stances and beliefs should be what matters.

College students soon to be entering the workforce may find themselves victim to similar age-based discrimination. Age does not define the capabilities and worth of people in any field, just as it should not define one’s candidacy.

Older and younger generations alike must fight against this underlying ageism that corrupts the way we perceive others. This also goes in the other direction.

It is valid to be concerned about a candidate’s experience and it should definitely be taken into consideration when voting, but it is unfair to assume their experience is equivalent to their age. Give candidates a fair evaluation, just as you would want someone to do of you.