Brendan Burke, Associate Editor-in-Chief

The 116th Congress is the title for the current federal legislative body of the American government. Starting on Jan. 3, 2019, the 116th Congress resembled a very historic time in American politics. Not only were more women elected to Congress than ever before, the highest rates of people of color were also elected — primarily due to the high rates of youth voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections. 


That turnout in 2018 resembled the new kind of politics present in this country and has forced members of Congress to run their campaigns and legislate in all kinds of new ways. Many of the young American voters in 2018 put their faith in politicians who were fed up with Washington stagnation and were demanding structural change.


Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, every American should agree that one thing about the 2018 midterms was for the greater good. While it was a blue wave, this is for the overall greater good in terms of the precedent that was set two years ago — the precedent that Congress is meant to be representative of all Americans. 


By electing younger congressmen and congresswomen, especially people of color, we as Americans are truly starting to fulfill the initial purpose of Congress — electing leaders who serve in the federal government to be a better reflection of America as a whole.


The United States is not just a country full of elderly white men. The United States is a country full of women, people of color, members of the LGBT community and young Americans. The 115th Congress was nearly 78.5% men, 21.5% women and 22.1% people of color. The 116th Congress is nearly 75.5% men, 24.5% women and 24.5% people of color.


These percentages speak for themselves. While it will be more representative once the percentages of women and people of color continue to grow, this upward trend is the exact sort of progression we should be seeing in our government. A more inclusive and representative government is present, but we still have a long way to go. 


For example, the average age of House members in this Congress is 57.6 years old and for senators it is 62.9 years old. While the House of Representatives has gotten younger since the last election by 0.2 years, the Senate has gotten older by 1.1 years. This is the wrong direction for the Senate.


As a matter of fact, these two statistics are far from where Congress should be. There is a reason why the young people in this country — including us high school students — feel so left out in the greater picture of our political world. The lack of young politicians leaves us out of the greater picture and makes it seem as though the problems of our generation are not being taken seriously.


Career politicians who stay in their congressional offices for decades simply do not fulfill the purpose of Congress. Congress is meant to be a legislative body with a constant flow of leadership that represents America as a whole. If the presence of decades-long career politicians and a lack of the younger generation ensues, America will never be as representative as it could be.