That is why the young are not represented in the USA – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different parts of the country
President Joe Biden is 79 years old.
The average age of US senators is 64.
– There seems to be a generational war in the gang, says US expert Sofie Høgestøl.
The young do not recognize themselves in politics and have little ownership of their political system.
– 50-something is young now, she says and continues:
– The leaders of both parties are not just pushing 70, they are pushing 80. Then you immediately seem as young as a 50-year-old.
Høgestøl points out that voter turnout among young people is low.
– Young people do not see anyone in the same generation as themselves, who is the standard bearer of the generation’s experiences.
How did the US end up with a board of elders?
– To stand for election in the United States, one must have access to a lot of money, because success largely depends on people knowing your name.
That’s what Deborah Lynn Kitchen-Døderlein says, associate professor of American history and culture at the University of Oslo.
She cannot choose how big an advantage those running for re-election have. Because they have built up what Kitchen-Døderlein calls name recognition and have received a lot of attention through their position.
– In the USA it is believed that if you recognize someone’s name, it is because the famous person must be skilled. That was one of Trump’s great advantages. He was a reality TV celebrity before entering politics.
The expert explains that incumbent politicians are happy to stand for re-election again and again without being challenged by younger, more unknown names in their party. They also don’t give up until they get old and die or retire.
Lack of time and money
Since name recognition is so important, it is important to campaign and buy political advertising, which costs a lot of time and money.
– Time and money are things that the vast majority of young people in the US have little of, says Kitchen-Døderlein.
– The Millennial generation finished school and got the financial crisis right in their lap. And when they finally get back on their feet, the coronavirus came, explains Kitchen-Døderlein.
– At the same time, many of them struggle with huge student loans that have to be repaid.
Much of the wealth in the United States is concentrated among the older generations.
The millennial generation has less than seven percent of all wealth in the United States. When the baby boomers were the same age, they had 22 percent of the wealth, according to figures from the central bank in the United States.
– Corona destroyed the jobs of young adults in particular. Many people work in the nightlife industry or service professions and in the USA the state does not help you to the same extent as here in Norway.
She explains that many young people had to move back in with their parents because they could not afford to live on their own, which makes them even less fit to run for office.
– Why would you vote for someone who lives at home with mum and dad?, asks the US connoisseur rhetorically.
A third of all Gen Z Americans live at home with their parents, and many of them expect to stay there for the foreseeable future.
Høgestøl also agrees that the younger generations are in an economic situation that makes it more difficult to stand for election.
– Young people have little money and they do not feel represented, and that their generation is not a priority, she says.
– It is important that the politicians play where you are in terms of life and what you are concerned with.
Makes voting difficult
At the same time, Kitchen-Døderlein points out that the Republicans are doing everything they can to make it difficult for young people to vote.
– The Republicans are completely open to trying to make it more difficult for both young people and minorities to cast their votes. They use Trump’s big lie about electoral fraud as an excuse, she says.
– Then it will be even more difficult for young people to win.
Biden vs. Trump again?
– I think there are many young people who hope that 2020 was “peak gamliss governance”, says Høgestøl.
Then 78-year-old Joe Biden stood for election against 74-year-old Donald Trump.
– The young people that you get fresh candidates on both sides. Biden was the old, safe candidate who was a transition from the Trump era. But he is not made to continue this fight. Now he must pass the baton on to a young and energetic person.
– But Biden has dreamed of becoming president since he was a teenager, and it is difficult to give up power once you have it.
But Biden is now more unpopular than Trump was at his lowest.
– A number of cases about his age have appeared in major liberal journals, says Høgestøl.
– It is probably because they cannot have such an old presidential candidate. When he is so unpopular and so old, it is no wonder that forces in the party are beginning to gain ground that he is not the natural candidate.
Thus, it is possible that Biden will feel under pressure and not stand for re-election, so that a younger person can get away.
Høgestøl and Kitchen-Døderlein both point to 40-year-old Pete Buttigieg as a young alternative candidate with good opportunities in 2024 if Biden withdraws.
There are also several who speculate whether Donald Trump will not be able to run in 2024 as a result of his age.
– There are several people close to Trump who say that they do not believe that he has the capacity to run again, but that he needs the attention and wants the power. In addition, he wants to avoid prison, says Kitchen-Døderlein.
She explains that the presidency is one of the world’s most demanding jobs, and that it has rarely been more demanding.
– Inflation. War in Europe. Mass shootings. Potentially a new pandemic in addition to the fact that corona is still not over. There is an enormous amount that must be handled by the president, she explains.