Council of Elders

November 6, 2013

The United States purports to be a democracy. In reality, it is ruled by a Council of Elders. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

So I voted yesterday in Virginia, which held an election for governor and other state and local offices. One thought occurred to me as I looked around the polling station — I’m the youngest person here. Me. The 60-year old with gray hair and a white beard.

This was not an unrepresentative, anomalous occurrence, if statistics regarding voting patterns are to be believed. Those statistics indicate that voter turnout increases with age (up to a certain point).

This over-representation of the elderly can affect the results of elections. Although the elderly certainly do not constitute a solid voting bloc, they do tend to be more conservative on social issues than younger voters. With the number of older Americans increasing, this is not good news for those who favor progressive policies.

Ideally, in a representative democracy, voters should reflect the composition of the electorate. Nothing against old people — like me — but our interests and views should not be overrepresented. Of course, the solution to unbalanced age demographics for voters is easy and rests entirely in the hands of younger generations. They need to get out and vote.