Marathon Running and the Old Politician

The American Political system was designed to be fair in an unfair world. Since then, our politicians have not done enough to ensure that system adapts and changes to be fairer as society evolves and solutions to new problems are needed.

Marathon running keeps on becoming the sport that demonstrates that the impossible can be done. I would imagine that one day an athlete who has either just or has yet to be born will be better than the greatest of today and today, the greats are legendary.

But legendary changes with the exception of few. Moses. Jesus. Prophet Mohammed. Shakespeare. Gandhi. The list that stands the test of generational time is short. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant will only be on it if the business of the NBA succeeds for another hundred years. If not, they will be nothing more than footnotes in the history of a sport that now no one in the future still plays.

Marathon runners have already stood the test of time. The marathon was an ancient race, before the common era, in ancient Greece between Marathon and Athens. Since then, it has grown to be one of the world’s most participated in sport. Millions of people a year compete in marathons of all sorts globally.

The interesting part of this global sport that millions toe the line for is this. A marathon can have 50,000 runners. One wins each gender division. Female. Male. Yet millions compete in the full knowledge that they will never win and do not have the physical capabilities or resources to win. Every marathoner is really in a race against themselves despite being a competitor.

Now, the point. My point of providing very basic knowledge of marathon running is this. Imagine a coach who started their career thinking 50 years ago that running a sub 3:00 hour marathon was the best man could do. What happened when that line was crossed and kept being crossed by non-elites. The coaches’ thinking needed to adapt and change. Did it? Is my question.

There is no doubt that thinking changed in the world of running. A Boston qualifying time of ten years ago won’t get you to the starting line anymore. The training and the sport have evolved. What was once seen as impossible or only accessible to the elite is now available to anyone with the time and resources to train well.

Politics are different and in America were not designed to be so. When the founders set out to create the laws by which America is run, they used the data and resources available to them at the time. They were asking many questions but not all because the need to do so had yet to be uncovered. Solutions don’t just appear. First, we need to identify the problem.

So the mistake that the founders made was not planning for the longer life span of those in power. They planned for the startline just not the finish. You have to be over 45 to run for President. That doesn’t eliminate a centurion for running which in fact it should.

One problem that the founders did not account for was the increase in life expectancy. Just like the antiquated coach, the founders had been taught to believe that only few would reach the age of 65 or 70. That was not the norm. Well, today it is. We all expect to live to be 80 plus. Some won’t but the majority who have adapted and changed and have had access to the resources needed to achieve health during their lives will. It’s not rocket science.

Evolution or change or betterment is the process of handing the torch to the better. The marathon is an example. The torch is no longer in the hands of the athletes and coaches who run or train people to run a sub three hour marathon. It is now in the hands of those who are training to run a sub two hour marathon. In many ways, it’s not the same sport. My thinking has changed.

This is where I find it difficult to view American politicians through any other lens than one that illustrates that they are out of touch. Someone who grew up during the transition between the radio to TV has no place ruling over those who have grown up to voting age in the era of the Smartphone. The chasm between how the two groups think is too large. It’s pre-analog vs digital. There’s no common thread yet our leaders believe they are still qualified to think and do so. They are not.

American politicians should have a range of ages that starts at the age our founders set forth and ends at an age that we determine is fair. My guess, 72-75 as the max. If the parties can’t find adequate candidates younger than that, then the party itself has bigger problems than one politician not getting a shot at the title.  Who cares? I don’t. I live in the world working towards a sub two hour marathon. Do you? 


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