Why Nikki Haley's Comments About Older Politicians Have Twitter Divided

There are certain hoops you need to jump through if you're looking to run for office. At the very least, you need to prove you're a resident of a certain area or state. And while there is no legal requirement to do so, many of those who have run for state governor or U.S. Senate, from Washington Governor Jay Inslee to Senator Elizabeth Warren, have released their tax returns (per NPR).

Now, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has come out in favor of another requirement — one that mandates that older candidates for higher office take cognitive or mental tests and release those test results to the public. The former South Carolina governor said to Real America's Voice host David Brody on November 4 (via Mediaite), "We seriously need to have a conversation. If you're going to have anyone above a certain age in a position of power, whether it's the House, whether it's the Senate, whether it's vice president, whether it's president, you should have some sort of cognitive test, just like you have to show your tax returns."

Haley's call for cognitive tests didn't come out of thin air. While she claimed the call wasn't partisan, she also said, "You look at [President Joe] Biden and I think there's a concern. I think there's a concern when people say, 'Who's really making the decisions here?'"

Calls for cognitive testing have been made before

This isn't the first time a senior member of the GOP has sought to question Biden's mental fitness. During the summer of 2020, former President Donald Trump did the same, boasting about a cognitive test that he had taken and suggesting Biden do the same.

But The Washington Post explained that the test, known as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, was not an IQ test and was meant to pick up signs of mental decline. At the time, Trump revealed what he said was the toughest part of the test, which was remembering five words in order. This was how the phrase "person, woman, man, camera, TV" became a meme.

Now, Nikki Haley's comments have triggered social media, with Biden supporters asking her "where she was" as they recalled anecdotes from the Trump administration. "Why didn't she call for this when Trump was President? Instead, she defended Trump when people said he needed tested," one social media user asked testily, while another embarked on a play on words reminiscent of the meme, saying: "Lie. Woman. Hypocrite. Camera. TV." A third referenced Trump's words directly, saying, "Interesting this wasn't a concern of hers during the whole embarrassing person, woman, man, camera, TV thing."

More than cognitive testing is needed, say social media users

Still, there were some social media users who agreed with Nikki Haley, but perhaps not for the reasons she'd appreciate. "Personally, I think all politicians should be tested, regardless of age. Not only cognitive tests but mental health tests & government/law/Constitution knowledge tests as well," one social media user said

And as a fifth Twitter user pointed out: "Seems quite ageist. Why not propose it for all politicians, public officials, judges, etc. Still unconstitutional, but makes more sense if her real intention was to test for competence of participants in our government." 

A sixth Twitter user proposed that if Haley wanted to test for something ,she could propose a range of examinations that could look at different competencies, saying: "Why limit it? I think there should be a cognitive test, a civics test, and a full psychiatric evaluation for EVERYONE that runs for public office. No matter their age! All three are clearly needed now."