Should Mitch McConnell Retire? Minority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, is expected to return to Congress after a lengthy absence. McConnell, the longest-serving Senator in history, has not been seen publicly in more than a month; McConnell has been recovering from injuries sustained in a “serious fall,” notably a concussion and a broken rib.
“McConnell, who is 81, suffered a concussion after tripping and falling at a private dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in downtown Washington, D.C., on March 8,” The Hill reported. “He was taken by an ambulance to an undisclosed hospital where he stayed for several days of rest and observation.”
McConnell’s injury and absence, naturally, raises a question that has become increasingly relevant in US politics: is he too old to serve?
The question lingers as McConnell prepares for his return. “I am looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday,” McConnell tweeted. “We’ve got important business to tackle and big fights to win for Kentuckians and the American people.”
McConnell has been away for five weeks
McConnell was discharged from the hospital on March 13 and moved to “an inpatient rehabilitation facility, where he continued to recover until doctors sent him home on March 25,” The Hill reported. While McConnell was away, he issued a statement, thanking “everyone for all the kind wishes,” saying that he would continue to follow the advice of physical therapists while he worked from home.
Obviously, accidents happen, and injuries happen – to everyone, not just the geriatric. But the specifics of the injury (a fall) are closely associated in most people’s minds with old age. And an unrelated incident, the illness of another octogenarian senator, has increased the attention paid to McConnell. The absences of McConnell and Feinstein “have highlighted the challenges of governing with a bare-bones majority in a body populated by an old and frail group of lawmakers,” The New York Times reported. Feinstein’s condition is, without question, related to her age; the 89-year-old is suffering from an acute short-term memory problem that has “raised serious concerns among those who interact with her.”
Feinstein has already announced that she will not be running for re-election. McConnell has made no such announcement, re-prompting the question: is he too old to serve?
Is McConnell too old to serve?
According to the US Constitution, no, Mitch McConnell is not too old to serve. In legal terms, McConnell is good to go. So what it comes down to is public opinion.
What do I think? Well, that doesn’t matter much because I’m not a citizen of the state of Kentucky. Whether McConnell is too old or not is entirely up to Kentuckians. To date, Kentuckians have decided that McConnell is not too old to serve; Kentuckians keep electing him.
Do I personally have reservations about octogenarian politicians? Yes, I do. My reservations are less pronounced when the position is relatively compartmentalized (relative to the Presidency, that is). But a Senator is still an extremely consequential posting. And in a senator where votes are razor-thin, a senator who cannot be present to vote because of health issues is a liability to their party.
Also, eighty-year-olds aren’t really in touch with the collective. I’m in my mid-thirties, I already feel disconnected from people in their early twenties. It’s hard to imagine that an 81-year-old, who was born while FDR was in office, is in touch with anyone under 50 (aka most Americans).
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.