Imagine a world in which the demographics of the U.S Congress represented the people they are supposed to represent. The importance of issues would shift to what younger people care about, and there would be fresh and new ideas from young, enthusiastic congresspeople. Young people would feel less disenfranchised and more in control of their lives when it comes to politics, social programs, and how their world operates.
The demographics of Congress do not reflect the U.S. population. From a 2015 study published by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the average age total for all state chambers is 56 years old. The same study reported that the average age for the adult population in the U.S. was just under 47 years old. This difference may not seem like a big deal—after all, what’s nine years? But this difference breaks down even further when demographics like generation are considered.
The study showed that the average generational breakdown in state legislatures across the U.S. is: 12 percent “Silent Generation,” 55 percent “Baby Boomers,” 27 percent “Generation X,” and only 6 percent “Millennial.” These numbers show the greater gap of representation in our government, considering that the millennial population exceeded the baby boomer population in 2015, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Most people may consider millennials “too young” to run for state and national government legislators, but considering their age range is 23-38 years old, most of them are actually eligible to run for those seats. Most state legislatures have minimum age requirements around 21 or 25, while some are as low as 18 years old. That means that even the youngest millennials are eligible to run and have already been through college.
Going into the future, let’s think about young people as the foundation of our continuously advancing democracy, not the young kids that are trying to ruin everything the great and wise generations have set up. After all, most millennials entered adulthood well before today’s newest adults were even born.