How old is too old to serve in politics?

Apr 21, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: 7:58 pm

FILE - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., leaves a classified briefing on China, at the Capitol in Wa...

FILE - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., leaves a classified briefing on China, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — With many U.S. leaders being well into their senior years, it’s no surprise that Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), California’s senior senator, is the oldest member of Congress at 89.

In February, Feinstein was diagnosed with shingles. This makes it difficult for her to carry out her responsibilities. She has been absent from the Senate since early March. 

This all poses the question, how old is too old to serve in politics?

Two guests join Dave and Dujanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic two share their insights on the matter.

Feinstein temporarily steps down

First, NewsNation Washington Correspondent Kellie Meyer joins the show. The conversation begins with Dujanovic asking who in Washington, D.C. is calling for Feinstein to step down.

“So, there are a few members of her own party that are calling for her to resign,” Meyer tells Noriega and Dujanovic.

Meyer goes on to say, under some pressure, Feinstein decided to temporarily step down from the powerful Senate judiciary committee.

“(The powerful Senate judiciary committee) is where Biden’s judicial nominees are approved. This is where if there is a Supreme Court vacancy that the nominees come through for their confirmation hearings,” Meyer says. “So … this committee, this position is really coveted and really holds the keys to the highest court in the land. So this is a very important committee and slot for her.”

While Feinstein is out, according to Meyer, Democrats are working to temporarily replace her. This is something Meyer says many Democrats and Republicans do not agree with.

“(Some republicans) don’t want to be seen as helping, you know, approve Biden’s judicial nominees,” she says. “And then others, now, are saying that it’s a campaign on the part of Democrats to push her out of the Senate completely and that they don’t want to be a part of something like that.”

Meyer says the situation is currently at a stand still.

How old is too old?

Later in the segment, James Curry, associate professor and director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Political Science at the University of Utah, joins Dave and Dujanovic.

Currey says the topic of a politicians age is an “important topic in American politics these days.”

“We’re in a moment where some of the most powerful and influential figures in [the] U.S., national government … have reached advanced ages that we haven’t really seen in those types of positions maybe ever in American history,” he tells Noriega and Dujanovic. “So, it’s a very important topic and there’s a lot of pros and cons and tradeoffs, I think to each side.”

Along with this, Curry says he doesn’t believe having a maximum age for politicians is “purely” ageist.

“I think there’s legitimate concerns about wanting people in positions of power to have the right capacities to do the jobs,” he says. “These are important jobs, they’re jobs that are demanding in many ways. There are jobs where in the case of someone like Senator Feinstein, an absence can be the difference between what passes and what doesn’t.”

Listen to the full segment.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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How old is too old to serve in politics?