The Corner


Everything Old Is Bad, a Continuing Series at Vox

Vox has found yet another part of the Constitution that is standing in the way of something it likes, in this case Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Writes Matt Yglesias:

The constitutional prohibition on people under the age of 35 serving as president is just one of these weird lacuna that was handed down to us from the 18th century but that nobody would seriously propose creating today if not for status quo bias. Realistically, most people that young would simply have a hard time winning an election. But if you can pull it off, you should be allowed.

This may be the archetypal Vox paragraph. It makes precisely zero attempt to grapple with why the provision in question was placed there in the first place, instead dismissing it without inquiry as “weird” and “arbitrary” and — shock horror! — old. It emphatically assumes that “nobody” could disagree with the author, without providing a shred of evidence for that proposition. It is entirely self-serving, the case being, at root, “I like this thing and want it now.” It badly mangles the English language, in this case using the word “lacuna,” which doesn’t fit, instead of “vestige,” which does. And, perhaps best of all, it sits under a trolling subheading, “Young is better than old,” that isn’t actually supported by the rest of the text. Were a parodist to have built the example in a lab, he could scarcely have done a better job.

It is, of course, entirely reasonable to oppose the age limits in the Constitution — indeed, some of the Founders did just that, which, given that quite a few of them were under 35, is not entirely surprising. But it is not reasonable to do so without knowing why they were included, and it is the height of silliness to do so on the grounds that they happen to inconvenience a woman who, as of the time of writing, has neither shown herself to have any knowledge about anything nor so much as started her first political job. In recent years, people on both sides of the political aisle have begun to look at anyone and everyone who impresses us in some way and to think, immediately, “perhaps that person should be president.” We would do well to get over that, lest we become political monomaniacs whose hollow civil society is full of president-shaped holes. Or, y’know, lacunae.


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