North Texas Daily

It is time for younger generations to take political office

It is time for younger generations to take political office

It is time for younger generations to take political office
August 24
03:08 2018

Fifty-seven point eight. That is the average age of a politician serving in the U.S. Congress. The average age for a Senator is 61 years old.

Alternately, people under 21 years old make up one quarter of the U.S. population, while those 65 and older make up only one-seventh of the population. Simple mathematics concludes there are a lot of Americans under 21.

A lot.

But while there are some very exceptional teenagers throughout the country, odds are the majority of them are not immediately ideal candidates for office. Still, writing them off completely would be ridiculous. 

It makes sense for me to want everyone, no matter how old or how young, to have the opportunity to express their passion for public office and their aptitude for understanding and meeting the needs of constituents. But it’s hard to make sense of why current politics are dominated by older Americans.

The median age for Americans is 38 years old, nearly 20 years younger than the people currently running Congress.

A lot can happen in 20 to 30 years. A child is born and grows up. Sometimes they even have children of their own. Women can go from being disparaged in a national sexual assault case to having their powerful assault stories play a large part in bringing down the abusive founder of a powerful film company.

Ideas and feelings around the LGBTQ community can shift. Laws can pass, ordaining rights where there weren’t any before. The cost of living can rise while the minimum wage remains the same. The environment’s rainforests can deplete at even more alarming rates. Species of animals can delineate the endangered species list, then be taken off. Then re-added. Then taken off again.

The point is, generations grow up in different environments, sometimes in completely different ideological and social realities. This mean either the older congressman must make an effort to continuously learn and immerse themselves in these realities or continue to rule from a totally out-of-date perspective.

Each generation should be able to have a chance at bettering this country and see what they can do for the nation that housed and educated them because, whether our seniors like it or not, the younger generations will one day be running this country.

Motivated, ready-to-work, young people do exist. But it’s discouraging to not see anyone in your age group successfully hold public office. Whoever can rule responsibly, ethically and with empathy should do so. Age does not automatically equate to ethical behavior.

It’s not smart to advocate for the complete shutting-out of older people willing to run for office and serve the country, though. It would be discriminatory to do so, especially with the fact that the U.S. has a lengthening life expectancy and a sizable older population. Their voices deserve to be heard, too, since America isn’t doing the best it can to take care of its elderly population.

All in all, a government that is representative of the population is promising, regardless of age.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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