by Stacey Selleck
The Democratic Party has passed over a lost generation of Gen Xers in favor of aging boomers and even silent generation lawmakers for their positions of leadership in the US Congress. Today, the average age of House Democrat leadership, where all the power is in the Congress, is 72 years old.
The three most important positions in the House are occupied by octogenarians. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is 82 years old. Majority leader, Steny Hoyer is 82 and Majority Whip, James Clyburn is 81.
There are many young Democrats being elected to the Congress who basically have no chance of getting to those positions of power for decades. They are locked out due to the entrenched incumbency.
Without term limits, the gerontocracy has always opposed any attempts to rectify the situation, but dissent from younger democrats has been bubbling to the surface for years. So much so that in 2019, Speaker Pelosi’s was compelled to broker a deal with her caucus. To stay in power, she agreed to term limit herself as leader.
Well, Speaker Pelosi kept her word and announced that is stepping down from leadership. Not only that, but she also convinced Hoyer and Clyburn to follow suit opening the door to a new generation of leadership in the Democratic Party.
“Now is the time for a new generation of leaders. I think it’s always good for our party to have new blood and new invigoration and enthusiasm and new ideas.”
House Majority Steny Hoyer on his decision not to seek an elected leadership position in the 118th Congress
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries will make history as the first leader of color in either chamber of the Congress, due to Speaker Pelosi vacating her post.[/caption] Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is favored to fill the vacancy left by Pelosi. If elected, he will be the first Representative of color to hold the leadership role in either chamber, ever. According to a Newsweek article entitled “Average Age of Top House Democratic Leaders About to Drop By 30 Years,” having a new generation of leadership means having people who are invested in the outcome of their own policies and face more accountability.
There is much excitement as a result of the open seats in Democratic leadership. We have been advocating for this invigoration and accountability for years. Term limits would make the Congress more reflective of the electorate in many more ways than age… and it would do so regularly.
Watch this brief clip of Rep. Steny Hoyer’s comments on his leadership announcement.