Every few months a group of us seniors get together for lunch. We all look forward to spending time together at one of our local restaurants. Typically, we first share concerns about health and family issues. One’s daughter is getting a divorce; one of us has kidney problems; another had heart surgery; and two in the group had COVID-19. My husband, Marty, used to call these health conversations, “organ recitals”!

Following these discussions, we talk politics. Yes, we older gals are quite well-versed and interested in political and social issues. At our last lunch, our focus was the upcoming mid-term election. As it happened, we all had read recent articles in the Tribune and New York Times about presidential preferences of 20- to 30-year-olds. Both articles noted their strong concerns about the age of candidates. They said, “We are tired of old men and old ideas.” Our lunch group understand their feelings. Yet we also remember that only a short time ago throngs of young people enthusiastically rallied around Sen. Bernie Sanders. He is certainly no youngster, but he has very progressive ideas.

Much of what these 20-30-somethings said in the articles has merit, but we who were discussing this agreed that good leadership must also have the characteristics of accumulated knowledge and experience. We all have different ages — the age we are living and the age the calendar says. For example, I have 200-year-old legs, but my thinking is somewhat younger. In selecting a candidate, we lunch gals do not consider a candidate’s age to be the defining characteristic. 

We oldster friends support progressive ideas, and we believe that President Biden has done an admirable job. Unfortunately, Biden has not received bi-partisan support for his agenda and our country faces multiple and very difficult challenges. We agree that cooperation is necessary if Biden is to accomplish what he wants to achieve. Younger folks are rightfully complaining about the stagnancy of government and the politicized standoff, and factor in “the impatience of youth.” 

The current demands of the presidency require a great deal of energy and perhaps how Biden ages will be a factor in his performance leading up to 2024. We do not believe that a particular age, a specific number, is the issue. Rather, we view the age of a candidate in a much more nuanced way. It’s about how a particular someone ages, and this is varied and individualized.

Even though we who were gathered at this lunch wanted to focus on 2022 mid-terms, we found ourselves talking about candidates for 2024. Our group consists of four Democrats, 1 Independent, and 1 anti-Trump Republican. Our Republican friend strongly believes it’s time for a woman president. She said she’d probably vote for any woman over any man running. The other choices we discussed were Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff, and Corey Booker. My preferred candidate, Michael Bennett of Colorado, was a name unfamiliar to the others. I’ve followed Bennett’s career and voting record, and I find him very impressive. I am sorry he is not better known. 

At that lunch, we also agreed we’d prefer President Biden not seek re-election. We, too, are concerned about his age, as it relates to how he, specifically, is aging and confronted with the serious challenges he faces.

Our jam-packed lunch discussion ended with sharing ideas about how to help get Democrats elected. Even the one Republican said she’d most likely vote for a Democrat, but she thinks most Republicans, Trump fans or otherwise, would not vote for a Democrat. We passionately agree that at this critical moment for our country, we must vote for people who will lead with integrity and honesty. We hope they seek ways to override some of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions and that they focus on tackling climate change, passing sensible gun laws, ensuring voter rights and women’s rights.

We are a small group of lunch friends who represent folks who are passionate about our Constitution and our country. We have less than 100 days before the mid-term election. Let’s encourage people to vote for candidates who support these critical issues. 

Let’s not focus on the age of our leaders, but rather on his or her capability to strengthen our precious Democracy.

Harriet Hausman, 98 years young, is a longtime resident of River Forest.

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