Laying waste to our future with elderly officials

Morgain Locke, Contributor

The 117th Congress saw an average age of 58.4 years for members of the House and 64.3 years for Senators. As young voters turn out in near-record numbers, our representatives only seem to be getting older. So why are these older lawmakers allowed to hold our future in their hands when they will likely be gone before their impact is fully known? An age cap needs to be set on elected officials to limit the damage that could be done by out-of-touch and time-worn politicians.

The average life expectancy for people living in the US in 2021 was reported to be 76 years by the CDC. Per a 2021 article from FiscalNote, thirty-five elected officials in the 117th Congress were 76 years or older. There are more Congressmen over the average age expectancy than there are Native and Asian Americans combined, as there are only six Native Americans and 21 Asian and Pacific Islander Congressmen. Though 35 people may not seem to be too many, the largest represented age group by far is just below that range, with over 40% of the Senate being between ages 60 and 69. Additionally, the oldest current senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, is 89. For reference, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed when she was 31 years old. We have lawmakers today that were well into adulthood at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. We also broke the record for the oldest elected president twice in a row, with former-President Donald Trump taking office at age 70 and current-President Joe Biden at 78 immediately after. If President Biden were to win a second term, he would be 86 by the time he finally left office.

Lawmakers should be people who will be alive to experience the consequences of their actions. These older Congress members will not be here when the ocean levels rise and increased natural disasters lay ruin to afflicted communities. They have no reason to care for the future of our generation when they can continue to enjoy the short-term benefits they give themselves through tax breaks and corporate lobbying. The ones making laws that affect our future should be people that will also be living in that future; however, we still need representatives experienced in the political field, so Congress being made up of the younger generations is not the expectation. At some point, a line needs to be drawn between those that are “experienced” and those that just need to retire.

 We cannot continue to allow people well beyond their years to lay waste to our government. An age limit for political figures needs to be adopted to encourage a new generation of representatives to step forward and make laws that benefit our country and our future as a whole.