The incoming freshman class of Democratic lawmakers is many things: It’s diverse, it’s energetic, and it’s scary as hell to Fox News vipers. It’s also pretty damn young, when you compare it to the party’s increasingly AARP-ish leadership.
According to an analysis by The Washington Post, the divide between Democrats’ new guard and its’ leadership is a whopping three generations apart—a factor that not only signals the rise of a newly energized young, progressive faction within the party, but also possibly portends trouble for Democratic House leader and Speaker frontrunner Nancy Pelosi (age: 78), with many of the freshman class actively speaking out against her leadership in favor of someone who more closely resembles the increasingly diverse caucus.
As the Post notes, the gap between new members—including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, at 29, is the youngest member of Congress ever elected—and the leadership is the largest it’s been in 50 years. And while baby boomers still represent the largest bloc in both the Democrat and Republican caucuses, the GOP saw its median age actually increase after the past election.
All of this falls in line with what has become increasingly evident about both parties in terms of their electorates: While Democrats have made inroads with younger, more diverse voters (which isn’t to say there’s not lots more work to be done), Republicans continue to whittle their party down to the slimmest possible demographic of old, largely white men.
Same then with Congress. The Democrats’ blue wave, which swept them into power last week, has not only shaken the Republicans’ grasp on Washington. It’s also brought in a class of lawmakers who are literally generations removed from the Democratic politics (and politicians) who still practice a style of politics that has seen their party get flummoxed by Republicans time and time again. Only time will tell if this incoming class can start to change that.