The age gap between America’s leaders and its people is wider than ever. Congress has aged so dramatically in the past few decades that it has now come to a point where it is no longer representative of the country it was elected to represent.
Data collected by Insider shows that during the 1960s, the median age of Congress was 53.7, staying this way until the 1990s to 2020 when it jumped from 53.4 to 60.7 years.
Today, the median age is 61.5. While half of Americans are only 38 years old or younger, only 5% of Congress belongs to the same age bracket, and a concerning 25% are 70 and older.
This is worrisome not just because of the decline in cognitive function that comes with old age. The problem isn’t that America’s leaders are going senile, it’s the fact that a gerontocratic government doesn’t represent its citizens. A 2018 Pew survey found that the most common age for all Americans was 27, but for white Americans, it was 58. This points to how much older white interests are overrepresented in Congress.
As Timothy Noah once wrote in 2019, “if the nation seems intolerant, reckless and more than a little cranky, perhaps that’s because the American republic is showing its age. Somewhere along the way, a once-new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (not men and women; that came later) became a wheezy gerontocracy. Our leaders, our electorate and our hallowed system of government itself are extremely old.”
Three years after Noah’s article, it seems the US just unraveled into a bigger mess, wheezier and crankier than before as it grapples with a global crisis, yet still-growing intolerance and mounting unrest.
Information for this briefing was found via Insider, Politico, Pew Research Center, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.