Political Science Prof Goes ‘On Point’ to Talk About America’s Aging Congress

US Congress Building

Melody Crowder-Meyer, assistant professor of political science, appeared on the Dec. 6 episode of public radio news talk show “On Point” to discuss whether American elected officials are getting too old. 

Crowder-Meyer focuses her research on why American elected officials frequently do not share the traits of their constituents, and age is one of the most obvious disconnects between Americans and their representatives. With the average in the U.S. Senate recently reported to be 63.9, is it possible that the governing body can accurately represent the views of populations that are younger and more diverse than they are? 

“When we say we have a very old Congress that also means we have a Congress that is more likely to be white, and of course Congress is disproportionately white,” Crowder-Meyer said. “So what are the issues that Congress is not bringing to the table and… who is that leaving out in the broader population? If we have a lot of young Americans who feel their interests are not being represented, that seems like a problem with how democracy is functioning in the U.S.”

One way to address this imbalance is to make American elections of all kinds more competitive. 

“Until we address gerrymandering, extreme party loyalty” she said, “these forces leave us with mostly noncompetitive races. We will be stuck voting in elections where one party’s candidate wins and keeps running. Our opportunity to change things through the vote is very limited, actually.”

The full program is available here. Crowder-Meyer joins the conversation at  the 14:45 mark.

Learn more about political science at Davidson College.