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The geriatric generation: Why are so many of our elected officials above the age of retirement

Baby boomers overwhelmingly control our government. Both Congress and the Senate are older than they ever have been before, with the average age of representatives 65.3 and 57.8, respectively. Part of this has to do with the sheer mass of this generation: 76 million infants were born into the baby boomer generation between 1946 and 1964. That is over 20 million more individuals than the following Gen X, and 14 million more than millennials. Even Gen Z’ers, born into a rapidly expanding world, only number in with 68.6 million.

This creates a power imbalance and sets up baby boomers –who are older and therefore more likely to vote– to rule over a country that’s getting increasingly more globalized and modern than they are. Tech companies and other corporations are well aware of how well-positioned this makes them and take advantage of the technological illiteracy of elected officials to push their policies through the Senate and Congress. Mark Zuckerberg, whose 2018 hearing went viral as he struggled to walk senators through the most basic functions of the Internet, spent more time advising senators on what the Internet was than answering questions related to Facebook’s permittance of the spread of fake information. 

Part of the issue is how overrepresented the baby boomer generation is. Nearly half of Congress is composed of boomer representatives, who are more out of touch with modern issues than younger citizens. Gen X is worried about finances and being financially worse off than their boomer parents, while

millennials stress over job security, and Gen Z is watching the looming climate crisis peek over the horizon with anxiety and fear. Only 20% of the population, boomers have held onto positions of power while younger generations (who their policies will affect) stagnate in influence. Furthermore, boomers came of age at a time where American exceptionalism was the norm and where wealth was easier to acquire and maintain. They have carried this ideology into their representative work, which puts them at natural odds to their younger counterparts, who are more diverse, liberal, social, and technologically literate than they are.


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