Negative comments by R. L. Williams, a Des Moines Register letter writer, concerning Chuck Grassley's age of 83 being a problem in his upcoming reelection bid reflect stereotypes about aging that simply do not apply in the case of this long term senator. It would be interesting to see if Grassley's challenger -- or even any of the current presidential candidates - could keep up with him on his three mile runs four times a week or his annual six mile birthday run. Also I wonder how many people would be able to handle his yearly mission of visiting constituents and discussing their concerns while traveling to all of Iowa's 99 counties.
It is unfortunate that R. L. Williams has witnessed so few examples of people who have been able to live beyond 85 while being productive in their later years. My dad is over 86 and is running for City Council in his home town in Minnesota, and this weekend I plan on meeting up with a 90 year old friend who plans on participating in a 15.2 mile USATF certified race in South Dakota. OK, Bob isn't running it like he did last year when he was only 89, but the organizers are allowing him to travel the distance on his bicycle on account of the fact that he is an icon in his community and has run the race more than anyone else in the last 54 years. Last month when some friends and I toured his running resource collection, now part of the SDSU campus library, it was hard to keep up with Bob as he was running up and down the stairs. And when I head north to Minnesota, I often notice a 91 year old runner crossing the finish line at various races. When he was 83, Burt ran his 300th marathon, and since then has completed 24 more 26.2 mile events. These are just a few examples of older people who maintain their mental and physical health beyond the arbitrary age of 85 that R. L. Williams associates with the condition of being dead.
When citizens enter the voting booths in November, they need to consider the issues of their candidates and not discriminate on the basis of age.