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New Democratic House leaders are 31 years younger on average, featuring Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar

Dave Levinthal   

New Democratic House leaders are 31 years younger on average, featuring Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar
  • In 2023, the top three Democratic leaders will average about 51 years old.
  • Democrats' top three US House leaders now average more than 82 years old.

US House Democrats are about to experience a massive youth movement — relatively speaking — in their highest ranks.

With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Democratic Whip James Clyburn leaving the top echelon of Democratic leadership in 2023 — although remain in Congress — the average age of Democrats' new top three leaders will drop by 31 years.

Newly minted Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York is 52, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts is 59, and presumptive Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar of California is 43.

The current top Democratic leaders — Pelosi, Hoyer, and Rep. James Clyburn — are 82, 83, and 82, respectively.

The current Congress is the oldest in American history, according to Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" project, making this shift a decided victory for Generation X, which has often struggled to vault itself to government leadership's upper echelon.

In remarks November 17 on the House floor confirming her departure from House leadership, Pelosi acknowledged that "the hour has come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect."

Said Hoyer in a statement: "Now is the time for a new generation of leaders, and I am proud to offer my strong endorsement to Hakeem Jeffries for Democratic leader."

And Clyburn said he will "look forward" to "doing whatever I can to assist our new generation of Democratic leaders which I hope to be Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar."

This will be welcomed news to a significant majority of Americans who, according to a recent Insider/Morning Consult poll, believe the US government is much too old and support measures to address the status quo, including term limits and even age limits.

A frequent refrain: Aged leaders are out of touch, particularly on issues such as climate change, technology, civil rights, and abortion. Others are simply concerned with some leaders staying well past their primes, with declining capacities to carry out the duties voters elected them to perform.

The United States' gerontocracy, however, has not crumbled.

Not even close.

Another Biden v. Trump election?

Notably, not all Democratic octogenarians will exit leadership: Clyburn will remain in Democratic leadership although he'll fill less-influential post — assistant minority leader.

Sixty-one-year-old Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island had initially challenged Clyburn for this position, but dropped out.

On the US Senate side, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — he turned 72 years old on November 23 — will remain firmly in place with Democrats having retained control of power.

His Republican counterpart, 80-year-old Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, will also continue leading his party in the Senate despite a handful of detractors.

The greatest unknown: the White House.

President Joe Biden, who turns 80 this weekend, has said he intends to run for re-election but has not made a firm decision.

Former President Donald Trump, who would be 78 years on Inauguration Day 2025 were he to again win the presidency, announced earlier this month that he's again running — despite grumbling from some Republicans who'd prefer Trump yields to a younger GOP standard-bearer, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 44.

In the meantime, the next US House speaker is likely to also be someone — Republican Kevin McCarthy, 57, whose party just won a slim majority — who's a member of Generation X instead of the Silent Generation, as Pelosi is.

This article originally published on November 17, 2022, and has been updated to include new developments involving Democratic leadership in the US House.

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