Presidential candidate and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is still talking about requiring mental competency tests for anyone “serving in DC.” Haley, 51, says that it’s not just the older generation — Trump, Biden, McConnell, et al — that should be forced to sit for the exams. Haley asserts that mental competency test should be a prerequisite for every prominent national office holder.
(Jokesters will note that there may be no faster way to “drain the swamp” than by simply kicking out the mentally incompetent politicians in Washington.)
The American people deserve to know whether their leaders are up for the job. So yes, sign me up for a competency test.— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) March 11, 2023
It's not offensive. It's just common sense. pic.twitter.com/F2SwUpIZ3c
Haley says that “everyone should be open” to taking the competency tests, and “it’s a problem if they’re not.”
Haley understands that the practical barriers to administering such a test makes its implementation highly unlikely — who administers, who judges, how are the results determined, which types of acuity are emphasized, and which deprecated?
But Haley isn’t approaching the subject from a practical standpoint, she’s approaching it from a political standpoint. As Haley’s campaign team measures it, and as polls attest, Haley’s two biggest rivals right now for the Oval Office are former President Donald Trump — at 76, a quarter century older than Haley — and President Joe Biden, 80.
If those circumstances change and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Vice President Kamala Harris — two prominent politicians from her own generation — were to become the top contenders, Haley very likely wouldn’t be talking about mental competency tests. The tests are a political shorthand used to signify the value inherent in generational change.
When the current crop of high-ranking senior government officials sunsets, the competency test as political fodder will surrender its currency until the next powerful politician becomes a septuagenarian or older.