As the discussion rages over whether or not Joe Biden—our oldest president to date at age 79—should run for a second term in 2024, there is one glaring and pernicious aspect of the debate I demand we put a stop to at once. That is the suggestion that a corpse is not capable of being a great leader.
Simply put, it is ageist to suggest that a political figure cannot serve admirably just because their body is writhing with maggots or swollen with postmortem gases. Indeed, I challenge anyone to name one legitimate reason not to elevate a decaying carcass to the highest office in the land.
I’ll wait, but I don’t think you’ll find one.
As a centenarian more than fives times over, I’ve heard every defamatory comment there is about how merely having a small patch of skull exposed or losing an eyeball to ravenous worms somehow renders me a second-class citizen. This ancient prejudice implies my status as a moldering corpse is a disability that makes me lesser than someone who, by sheer happenstance, is still covered in rosy flesh.
This is not merely discriminatory. It’s also a slap in the face to the many corpses who made this country great.
These days, people see a few flies swarming around a decomposing body and assume that person is not capable of holding a basic conversation without their lower jaw falling off, let alone able to thrive as commander-in-chief. Last time I checked, intelligence isn’t stored in the flesh, and jaw bones pop right back into place.
It’s incredible that in the year 2022, our society still treats dead bodies as a rotting burden they no longer want around. In fact, the second corpses start showing signs of rigor mortis, we are shunned by our supposed loved ones, expelled from our homes, and dumped into our solitary underground graves, out of sight, where our needs and desires are buried alongside us.
Nay. No more.
History proves that being alive is not in and of itself a valid indicator of whether or not a person is qualified to serve: Nelson Mandela is a corpse. As is Martin Luther King Jr. And lest we forget, one of the most beloved presidents of the 20th century, John F. Kennedy, was a corpse while in office. Yet today all we hear is that candidates need to be “younger,” “fresher,” and “still alive.”
So while I agree that our 79-year-old current president is far from perfect, and it is well within our rights to say so, I’m asking you, my fellow countrymen, to strip these critiques of their blatant ageism toward those with foul-smelling, putrefied flesh, and focus instead on the content of your leader’s character.
That’s the kind of equal treatment all American citizens—living and dead—deserve.