A Candidate’s Age: Should It Matter?

More from our inbox:

  • A Caution for Cheering Democrats
  • Let’s Not Go Cashless
  • The Magic of Old Latin Mass
  • Seduced by Learning

Mr. Biden, the oldest president in American history, will turn 80 next Sunday.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Facing a Big Decision on His Future” (front page, Nov. 14):

Yet another article casting doubt on President Biden’s fitness to run again because of his age: 80 this coming Sunday. On the front page no less, as we celebrate his key role in dodging the predicted red wave.

Next month I turn 84. I still work at my computer every day, practice yoga regularly and ride my bike 10 to 20 miles a week. For sure, I can’t run as fast, or recall every name with the same ease, but in my mind I still feel young most days. And I’m far from alone among my cohort.

Eighty is the new 60. We need to get used to it as the baby boomers begin to turn 80 in just three years.

When we pick a presidential candidate, age is less important than character, experience, wisdom, judgment, kindness, resilience, mental health and track record, to name a few. Every candidate will have his or her flaws, but it’s insulting and foolish that someone should be disqualified simply based on age.

Jerry Murphy
Cambridge, Mass.

To the Editor:

I hope President Biden will choose not to run for re-election in 2024.

I admire nearly everything he has done, but I hope he will not make the same tragic mistake that Ruth Bader Ginsburg made. Her inability to step down cost her a life’s work and our country (women in particular) a safeguard for our rights.

No one is invincible or indispensable.

I hope President Biden will take the next two years to groom one or more successors, something he has not yet done. I hope that his entire short list will consist of women like Senator Amy Klobuchar and Vice President Kamala Harris. Give Ms. Harris a chance to shine; I’m pretty sure that’s what she thought she was signing up for.

Let’s break that glass ceiling and proclaim the equality of women leaders in the U.S. We are already doing that with governors; let’s do it with the presidency.

The midterm elections declared our resolve to maintain our democracy and to care about the rights of women. It is my fervent hope that President Biden will not succumb to the fallacy of hubris and will believe in democracy strongly enough to step aside for a new generation of leaders.

Susan Shelton
Falmouth, Mass.

To the Editor:

Getting older makes us realize that we can’t do things we did when we were younger. This is reality, admitting to certain limitations. Aging is not something to be trifled with when the well-being of the world is at one’s fingertips.

Although people can still work and function well into their 80s, presidential decisions are better left to younger people. Athletes realize when their careers are over, their skills are not as sharp as they once were and their help to the team has diminished. Politicians stay around too long and don’t know when to quit.

President Biden and former President Donald Trump, who is 76, are too old to serve another four years. We should thank them for their service and ask them to please step aside in the 2024 race to give younger people a chance.

Brad Berger
Manalapan, N.J.

A Caution for Cheering Democrats

Election workers processing ballots in Phoenix on Sunday.Credit…Rebecca Noble for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Lest we Democrats take excessive comfort from the 2022 midterm results, note that many pivotal races were won with razor-thin margins. This means that tens of millions of Republicans backed candidates who were egregiously incompetent and/or blatantly dedicated to sabotaging future elections.

We cannot count on such helpful incompetency in the future, nor such timely outrages by the Supreme Court, to fuel our future success. Now is the time for Democrats to dramatically upgrade our messaging to earn a more substantial, reliable victory in 2024.

Eliot Daley
Princeton, N.J.

Let’s Not Go Cashless

Credit…Allie Sullberg

To the Editor:

Re “The Cost of Going Cashless,” by Pamela Paul (column, Nov. 14):

I want to thank Ms. Paul for bringing to light the trend among businesses toward refusing cash payment. I recently decided not to renew my partial season ticket plan with the Chicago White Sox because Major League Baseball decided that all payments at the ballpark, including parking, must be made via credit card.

I find cash payment to be quicker and more convenient. With cash I do not have to struggle to decipher the tiny print on some credit card readers. There is no bank record every time I decide to have a beer, and there is no interest to pay if I do not pay off the entire balance on my credit card.

M.L.B. and other businesses may want to mine data and prevent employee theft of cash, but the decision on the method of payment should be that of the customer.

Michael McInerney

To the Editor:

Try being cashless after a natural disaster wipes out the cell towers and major infrastructure in your area.

Cash would be the only form of payment accepted, so you’d better have lots of it in your emergency supply kit.

Nance Carlson
Punta Gorda, Fla.

The Magic of Old Latin Mass

Old Latin Mass at St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit. Devotees describe it as a more reverent form of worship.Credit…Nick Hagen for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Old Latin Mass Finds New American Audience” (front page, Nov. 16):

As a former altar boy (who was not molested by his priests, thank you) and whose service straddled the pre- and post-Vatican II directives, I can attest that the traditional Latin Mass was filled with mystery and majesty, mainly because the priest’s back faced his congregation. No one could see what he was doing, and very few worshipers knew what was being said or intoned in Latin.

Since the changes of Vatican II in the 1960s, the priest often faces his congregation and, at least in the United States, the prayers and hymns are usually rendered in English, often revealing rather banal thoughts and pleadings.

What has been missing during the post-Vatican II era is the ritualistic element of theater, an essential part of most religions. Once everything at Mass was revealed and unveiled, it became more difficult for a congregant to focus on the divine and inexplicable, and easier to forget the experience when one had left the church.

Thomas F. Parker
New York

Seduced by Learning

Credit…Antoine Cossé

To the Editor:

Re “How I Learned the Art of Seduction,” by Melissa Febos (Opinion guest essay, Nov. 13):

I am a retired teacher of high school English. Though it took a few years to overcome the unspoken micro-humiliations of being considered the “token” (a Black teacher in a small, predominantly white school district), I miss the daily student-teacher interactions that fed my Age of Aquarius soul.

The verbal abuse that Ms. Febos endured from cooks resembles the verbal humiliation leveled at me when I worked in Los Angeles’s film industry. Yes, it was one of those jobs that paid the mortgage, and still I refused to take the verbal, often sexist abuse tossed my way.

I quit. I will never forget the first day of my new career and the magical silence of my first English lit class when I stepped to the podium after the bell. I took a minute to savor the heart-soothing feeling of respect before I introduced myself and discussed the syllabus.

I “seduced” my students with my goals, one of which was to get them to understand and love the power and beauty of our written language.

From Dickens to Jackson to Morrison to Hurston — these stories were representative of all the love I had to share. There are better-paying jobs out there. But none better than teaching.

Gwen Davis-Feldman
Cameron Mills, N.Y.

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