Our next Senate is going to be as fresh-faced and new as a midlife crisis, a youthening down of the crankypants "Get off our lawn!" current class. Once upon a time, our leaders in Congress tended to be middle-aged. But they've aged along with the rest of the country and refused to die or just go away and get a fancy consulting or lobbying gig in the private sector. Now the average age in the Senate is 62. This new crop voted in Tuesday though averages 16 years younger, as more Gen Xers make their way into the corridors of powers as elected officials, not just aides and consultants. From the Associated Press:
Four of the new senators are under 50, boosting a small contingent of Generation X members in the upper chamber. Gen Xers follow baby boomers and were born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s.
At 37, Republican Sen.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas is the youngest incoming senator, while Republican David Perdue of Georgia, 64, is the oldest. The average age of the new senators is 50, compared with 66 for the lawmakers they are replacing. All but one of the 11 are Republicans.
I love how they feel the need to explain who Gen Xers are because nobody talks about them or remembers anymore. The younger blood in Congress is not limited to the Senate:
Elise Stefanik, a 30-year-old New York Republican, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House. Also making history is Mia Love, 38, whose election to a suburban Salt Lake City district made her the first black female Republican to win a seat in Congress.
The Washington Post wonders how the newcomers, some of whom say they're more interested in problem-solving than partisan bickering, will deal with the current nature of Senate politics:
After a series of wave elections, retirements and deaths, there are far fewer veterans who saw those dealmaking times up close. When the new class takes office, half of all senators will have joined since 2008, in an era dominated by partisan gridlock.
The leaders who presided over the Senate's descent into inaction — Sens. Mitch McConnell (R) and Harry M. Reid (D) — will also be its leaders yet when the freshmen arrive. All they will probably do is switch places, with McConnell taking over Reid's role as majority leader and Reid becoming leader of the minority.
Still, McConnell has said that he will restore the Senate to its old ways. And the makeup of the new class was enough to make some current senators hopeful that things would really change.
The possibility of a Senate that actually "gets things done" is a good excuse to remind that we might not actually want some of these things to get done. Just prior to the election, Veronique de Rugy detailed some of the conservative love for big government from these Republican Senate freshmen. Read up on them here.