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(CNN) -- Amend the constitution! Political suicide! Think big and make things better!

This is the period of great ideas in American politics, a time that occurs roughly every four years before a presidential election, when candidates push broad proposals, usually with few details.

While big ideas generally have little chance of becoming law, they speak to what people who want to be president think will move primary voters.

With President Joe Biden currently secured for the Democratic nomination, most of the intellectual action this year is among Republicans.

Here are some of the big ideas of the moment, which are usually exclusive to one or two candidates rather than positions that are standard for the party. I see these as distinct from everyday political issues, such as abortion rights, foreign policy, border security, and gender rights, where there is a sliding scale of positions.


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A "mental competency" test for candidates over 75

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a rally in Greer on May 4, 2023. (Credit: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 51, wants to impose a "mental competency" test for candidates over 75.

With the two current leading candidates — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — well beyond this age, which is when most people would consider retirement, age is already a major issue this year.

It's a smart way to tap into fears that Biden, in particular, has lost skills. But it's hard to imagine it actually being put to use. Who would administer this test? Who would evaluate the results? Why wouldn't all candidates present it?

The goal of the democratic system is that voters must choose. This proposal would necessarily limit their options.

On the other hand, age limits are not an entirely crazy idea. Corporations impose them on executives, for example. Pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65, though that could increase in the near future to address pilot shortages.

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Raising the voting age

Vivek Ramaswamy, founder of a biotech company, wants to raise the legal voting age to 25. It's hard to imagine how this would work, as the current voting age is 18 and is guaranteed in the 26th Amendment.

Democrats such as former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have pushed in recent years to go in the opposite direction, arguing to lower the voting age to 16.

Ramaswamy says there would be exceptions to raise the voting age, such as for people joining the military or fulfilling a "national service requirement." Others might pass the same test given to naturalized immigrants.

"I want more civic engagement. My hypothesis is that when you give more value to the act, we will see more 18- to 25-year-olds vote than we do now," Ramaswamy told The Washington Post.

Raising the Retirement Age to Save Social Security and Medicare

Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence are among those pushing to change the age at which Americans can access retirement benefits.

While both Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vow they will protect these key parts of the social safety net, Haley and Pence are calling for a more honest discussion about the nation's finances.

In his narrative, raising the retirement age would only affect the youngest Americans: people 20 and younger, generations who will surely live and work longer than their ancestors.

But details are hard to find, as CNN's Jake Tapper discovered when he asked Haley on a CNN forum in early June what retirement age she proposed. She said more calculations are needed to reach a specific retirement age for people who are currently in their 20s.

In the meantime, he said, "we're going to tell them, 'Times have changed.' I think (Trump and DeSantis) are not being honest with the American people."

DeSantis recently acknowledged in New Hampshire that Social Security "will look a little different" for younger generations.

Pence, on his own CNN forum in early June, said raising the age of eligibility for Social Security is one option to have a difficult conversation about national spending, but not the only one.

"It could also include allowing younger Americans to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in a mutual fund, such as the TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) program in which 10 million federal employees are currently located," he said.

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Ending birthright citizenship

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Both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis want to revoke birthright citizenship, or the right of every U.S.-born person to be a U.S. citizen.

Both complain that even babies born to undocumented immigrants become citizens. Birthright citizenship is guaranteed in the 14th Amendment, the key post-Civil War amendment that was meant to protect former slaves.

Trump has been pushing for an end to birthright citizenship for years, but there is currently no significant effort to change the Constitution.

Trump pledged to sign an executive order. DeSantis has said he would lean on Congress and the judicial system. In reality, changing the Constitution would be almost impossible in the current political environment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Marathon County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner on May 6, 2023, in Rothschild, Wisconsin. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Building "Freedom Cities" and Developing Flying Cars

Former President Donald Trump's most innovative ideas have a futuristic "Jetsons" feel.

He wants to build new "cities of freedom" on federal land to reopen the U.S. border and give people a chance to own a home. He argues that the plan could revitalize American manufacturing.

And he envisions freeing Americans from hellish rides simply by looking up at the sky, with the initiative to promote vertical takeoff vehicles. CNN's report on Trump's proposals notes that the technology is already underway in the industry, but is far from available to customers.

A government-planned city may seem like an odd proposition to a candidate whose party has long embraced free-market ideals. But the idea of a planned city isn't completely strange, just look at Washington.

Revoke the reform of court rulings

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to undo Trump's biggest bipartisan achievement: the First Step Act, a criminal justice and sentencing reform law.

The product of intense bipartisan negotiations during Trump's tenure, the law was praised for rethinking harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

But the political landscape has changed since 2018, when Trump signed the bill as president and DeSantis voted in as a congressman. Now, DeSantis calls the law the "escape bill."

Both men want to impose the death penalty for drug offenders, an especially awkward twist for Trump, who has boasted of his compassion in freeing drug dealers like Alice Johnson when he commuted her sentence. The case helped build support for the First Step Act. Her crime could have made her eligible for the death penalty under her new plan.

Trump still brags about the First Step Act, and repealing it would require the help of Democrats in the Senate.

DeSantis, meanwhile, is moving to Trump's right on crime and even vetoed a bipartisan criminal justice law in Florida that passed easily through the Republican-dominated legislature.

Pence also said on his CNN forum that he would "step back" on the First Step Act, though it's unclear what that means in practical terms.

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