Now that Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest generation, the lack of representation in Congress by young adults is so unmistakable that Millennials should proportionately have 97 House members but instead have five.
Donald Trump is the oldest elected president ever and the 115th Congress is among the oldest in history, a place dominated by aging white men. Baby Boomers outnumber Millennials in the House by more than 50 to one. The generational divide is particularly stark when actual age gaps are considered.
The Quorum blog reports that today the average American is 20 years younger than their representative in Congress. This is a trend, as over the past 30 years the average age of a member of Congress has increased with almost every new Congress. In 1981, the average age of a representative was 49 and the average of a Senator was 53. Today, the average age of a Representative is 57 and the average of a Senator is 61.
To be clear, about a third of Millennials (age 19-35 years) aren’t old enough to run for the House, which requires a threshold of 25 years old. But if the 435 House seats were apportioned to match the generational distinctions of everyone who meets the age requirement, according to Bloomberg News, the Millennials would hold 97 seats, about a quarter of the chamber.
Reaching that level may take a few decades as turnover in Congress remains minimal, with more than 95 percent of incumbents winning re-election every two years.
Millennial Democrats who land a House seat will find it especially hard to climb the leadership ladder. The average age of the Democratic House leadership team is 72, while the average on the Republican side is 48. Among House committee leaders, GOP chairmen average 59 years and ranking Democrats average 68.
In the Senate, about one-fourth of the members are 70 or older. In the House, 44 congressional districts are represented by members whose age is more than double the median age of their constituents.
One thing is clear – the label House of “Representatives” is a misnomer in the 21st Century.