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The Most Privileged Nursing Home in The Country: The U.S. Congress

These five politicians are over the age of 80. (From left to right) Representative Grace Napolitano (Californian Democrat) is 86 years old. Senator Mitch McConnell (Kentucky Republican) is 81 years old. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Californian Democrat) was 90 years old and died in office. Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa Republican) is 90 years old. Representative Nancy Pelosi (Californian Democrat) is 83 years old.

140 of the 535 U.S. congressmen and women are over the age of 67, the retirement age in the United States. A large portion of this group is a part of the silent generation, the same generation as Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr., and they have loudly taken over Congress. No matter what political party or belief system you agree with, most people agree that our politicians are concerningly old. What allows them to serve for so long? Are they still able to do their jobs? Why is there no limit to the amount of time they are allowed to be in office? 

Nikki Haley, an American politician and former Governor of South Carolina, referred to the U.S. Senate as “The most privileged nursing home in the country,” referring to the number of older individuals currently elected. The average age of a U.S. senator is 64. The House of Representatives isn’t much younger, with the average age being 57. Many of these congressmen and women have been serving for a very long time, as there is no limit on the number of terms they are allowed to be re-elected for. 

These politicians are chosen again and again as people assume the experience makes them better at their jobs, but does that happen? Some politicians have served for over 50 years, according to the United States Senate. Although it can be tempting to stick to the same individuals, there should be a limit to the amount of terms served, like there is with the executive branch of government.

Many people wonder if these senior citizens are able to do their jobs, given the crucial importance that we have capable individuals running the country. A multitude of studies have shown that there are varying levels of cognitive decline that occur as we age. 

“The most important changes in cognition with normal aging are declines in performance on cognitive tasks that require one to quickly process or transform information to make a decision.” states the National Library of Medicine. Their surveys show that cognitive decline begins around 50-60 years old and increases dramatically around 70. 

It is almost impossible to claim that our U.S. Congress isn’t suffering from some level of cognitive impairment. With ages ranging up to 90, it’s safe to assume some of our politicians aren’t able to process information and make decisions as well as they once could. A major component of working in Congress is making decisions for the benefit of our country; therefore, we need capable individuals to do so.

We should work towards electing younger people better suited to make decisions for the adapting and changing world. Although many of us aren’t able to participate in elections just yet, it’s important to register to vote and stay educated on current events. The more we know about our politicians and voting, the easier it will be to elect people who will be the best suited for office!


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About the Contributor
Madelyn Stumbo
Madelyn Stumbo, Staff Writer

Hi! My name is Madelyn Stumbo, I’m a Junior this year and it’s my 2nd year on the Bruin Banner. I am the editor for our website, and I love writing! I’m looking forward to improving our website and advertising. I love reading, my favorite current book is the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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