Because age is just a number... that tells us how incredibly old you are.
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was born on November 20th, 1942.
His teeth and hair were born quite a bit later and are likely immortal, but the point is: our President-elect is old. He's so old that "Robinette" probably seemed like a reasonable thing to put in the middle of your kid's name when he was born.
He's so old, in fact, that he's technically slightly older than the guy who is still president until January 20, and actively proving that old white guys are the milk-on-a-hot-day of politicians: a bad choice (also, they look and smell like spoiled dairy).
Joe Biden is so old that he's almost as old as the runner up in the Democratic primary. He's so old that, once inaugurated, he will be the oldest American president in history. Once Joe Biden is inaugurated, the second-oldest American president in history will be...Donald Trump.
The fact that our two options in the 2020 election to lead us are men who are both more than 35 years older—and about 40% whiter—than the average American, is a damning indictment of our political system. But with both men widely accused by their critics of losing a step and declining into senility, should age be a defining issue in this election? Is Joe Biden, 77, so much older than Donald Trump, 74, that he should be disqualified?
Shouldn't all your major life achievements be behind you at 77? Shouldn't people that old just be sitting on their porches, grumbling about young people? If that's what you think, you might want to ask...
John Glenn - Went into Space at 77
In 1962, John Glenn became the first American Astronaut to orbit the Earth, circling the planet three times as part of NASA's Project Mercury. 36 years later, Glenn made history again, becoming the oldest person to go into space at age 77.
No doubt that record will soon be broken by some decrepit billionaire on a SpaceX tourist flight, but Glenn wasn't just messing around on a quick trip to the outer atmosphere; he spent nearly 10 days in space, participating in scientific studies to better understand the effects of space travel on the human body.
Oh, and Glenn was also a sitting U.S. Senator for Ohio at the time. Damn.
Betty White - Won a Grammy at 90
Betty White has been acting for radio and television since the 1940s, but she didn't win her first Emmy until 1975 for her role as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
For a lot of actors, that would have been the peak, and White could easily have retired from acting and been remembered as a great of her time. But Betty White refuses to be confined to one era. 10 years later, she was starring in another classic sitcom, The Golden Girls. 18 years after The Golden Girls ended, she had a starring role in Hot in Cleveland.
She has continued racking up awards this whole time, with hilarious cameos and supporting roles in many movies and TV shows. And next year she's scheduled to star in a new Lifetime Christmas movie. She'll be 99 years old.
So it honestly shouldn't be a surprise that the actor won her first Grammy in 2012 at the age of 90. White was honored at the 54th annual Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album for the narration of her audiobook If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't). At the current rate she's moving through her EGOT collection, she should receive her first Oscar in 2049, probably for her role in Golden Girls 2.0, AKA Famous Women's Brains Put into Solid Gold Robots: The Movie.
Warren Buffet - Fortune 500 CEO at 90
Known as "the Oracle of Omaha," Warren Buffett has seemingly frozen time by never changing his habits. Still living in the (relatively) modest home that he purchased for $31,500 in 1958, he reportedly stops at McDonald's for a breakfast sandwich every day on the way to work. And when he gets to work...he's the billionaire CEO of one of the 10 most valuable companies in the world.
At 90 years old, Buffett is still responsible for making investment decisions for a company valued at nearly half a trillion dollars, and he's achieved an annual rate of growth consistently outperforming the stock market. He has also made a name for himself as a prominent philanthropist, pledging to give away 99% of his wealth, and he's recently become a vocal advocate for higher taxes on wealthy Americans—proving that being old and rich doesn't mean you have to be entirely out of touch with what's going on around you.
John B. Goodenough - Won a Nobel Prize at 97
John B. Goodenough is a chemist and materials scientist noted for his contributions to the development of Random Access Memory in computing and Lithium-Ion battery technology. Feel free to look into those contributions in more detail if you understand terms like "magnetic superexchange" (probably has something to do with Magneto from X-Men).
Regardless of the particular big-brain science he was doing, in 2019 the Nobel Prize committee felt that John B. Goodenough's contributions to the development of the lithium-ion battery were good enough to warrant a Nobel Prize in chemistry. He was 97 years old.
And in case it wasn't enough to have helped create two of the most essential technologies in basically every device you own, Goodenough is still working at the age of 98, developing new battery technology at the University of Texas. When his Nobel prize was announced, his advice to young scientists was "don't retire too early." Well said, John.
Christopher Plummer - Won an Academy Award at 82
Beginners is maybe the perfect movie to exemplify how much living can be done later in life. In the movie, Christopher Plummer plays Hal Fields, a gay man who lived his life in the closet until coming out after the death of his wife. Hal Fields discovers new love and how to live his authentic self in his 80s. At 82, Plummer was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In the 7th decade of his acting career, he became the oldest person to ever win the award. In 2018, at 88, he became the oldest person to be nominated for the same award for his role in All the Money in the World. He's also way ahead of Betty White in the EGOT race—just waiting on a Grammy.
Ed Whitlock - Ran a Sub-4-Hour Marathon at 85
Could you run a marathon? Most of us would struggle to finish, even if we had all day. What about in under 4 hours? People do it, but you need to be in great shape, and even a lot of top athletes would have a hard time maintaining that pace. But Ed Whitlock? He ran the 2016 Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3 hours, 56 minutes, 34 seconds, at the age of 85.
He ran a distance famous for killing an ancient Greek messenger after surviving the Great Depression, World War II, and 24 James Bond movies. He ran 26 nine-minute miles in a row...again, after also traveling around the sun 85 times. Ed Whitlock passed the next year, probably moments after deciding he was finally ready to retire from running.
Jimmy Carter - Building Houses at 95
Last year former president Jimmy Carter fell in his home, sustaining a black eye and a cut that required 14 stitches. Days later, he was back on site, helping to build homes for those in need with Habitat for Humanity. He was 95 years old.
More recently, in the new documentary Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President, Carter admitted that back in the 70s—when he was hosting legendary musicians on a regular basis—his son got shared a joint with Willie Nelson on the White House roof.
This was the same White House roof where Carter installed solar panels—before Ronald Reagan had them torn down. If any one of these details isn't enough to convince you that we would all be better off if 96-year-old Jimmy Carter were president right now, I don't know what you're smoking. Speaking of which, he only served one term, so he's technically eligible to pull a Grover Cleveland. Just saying...
Bernie Sanders - Transformed American Politics at 78
For fans of Bernie Sanders, the coalescing of the entire Democratic party around moderate candidate Joe Biden in March of 2020—just when it seemed like Sanders was about to secure front-runner position—was heartbreaking.
Four years after launching a campaign that redefined progressive politics in the US, Sanders continued to push the party to the left. He and his campaign made Medicare for All, a livable minimum wage, cannabis decriminalization, and bold climate legislation mainstream positions, and he helped to launch the careers of the ascendant Justice Democrats, who may be our greatest hope for the future of American politics.
While fans of Sanders have no obligation to love Joe Biden, the Senator from Vermont is certainly proof that 77 is far from too old to change an entire nation for the better. Sanders was 78 when his campaign received more small-dollar donations than any other in history.
If it's at all true that Joe Biden is running "the most progressive platform of any Democratic nominee in the modern history," we have Bernie Sanders to thank.
Aida Germanque - Ran in Olympic Torch Relay at 106
In 2016, Aida Germanque participated in the Olympic torch relay in Brazil in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio. At 106 years old, Germanque was the oldest person to ever take part in the ceremony.
Given the slow pace at which Olympic torch relays are often "run," participating at any age may not seem as impressive as some of the other achievements on the list. Maybe it would be more impressive to mention the fact that she reportedly broke the record for oldest skydiver at 103.
But while it's true that Germanque didn't exactly sprint through her portion of the relay, the significance of her achievement is in the symbolism of the relay. It's about passing the torch to the next runner. And as Joe Biden has already hinted, that's what he intends to do with the presidency—serving one term, before passing it to the next generation of Democratic politician, whether that's Kamala Harris or (fingers crossed) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will be eligible to run for president in 2024.
So, clearly, being 74 or 77 does not mean you're done doing amazing things. If history is anything to go by, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden should have a lot of good years left. That said, there is such a thing as "biological age." If a person were to work out five times a week—as opposed to living off Big Macs and (allegedly) amphetamines and only working up a sweat by ranting on Twitter—that person could be much "younger" than someone born a few years after them.
So, while age itself should not necessarily be disqualifying for the job of president, certain habits—like inciting violence, opening concentration camps, and "joking" about running for a third term—definitely should be.