Bernie Sanders, a leading Democratic candidate for U.S. president in 2020, is 77 — almost two years younger than Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who is second in line to succeed to the U.S. presidency.
And Sanders is younger than three other American politicians who are qualified to be president, two of whom are considering a run for the office — former vice-president Joe Biden and former California governor Jerry Brown.
Biden, 78, is a year older than Sanders. Brown, who will be 81 next month, is almost four years older.
And Dianne Feinstein of California, at age 85 the oldest sitting member of the U.S. Senate, although not a declared candidate, is eminently qualified to be president.
Even more significant than these chronological facts, however, is the coming to power of two transformational world leaders in contemporary times, one a septuagenarian, the other an octogenarian.
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Nelson Mandela was the same age that Sanders is today when he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994. Mandela was the first African and multi-racial leader to head a government that until then under apartheid had been all-white. He and his African National Congress dismantled apartheid and wrote a national constitution that became the most progressive in the world. It allowed for a five-year presidency, renewable once.
Mandela decided not to run for a second term in 1999. If he had run — and almost…