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The 'establishment' in the U.S. government: What it means for students studying politics

October 6, 2023
Courtesy of The White House and the United States Senate
Courtesy of The White House and the United States Senate

The death of Dianne Feinstein, the longest sitting female U.S. Senator, at the age of 90, created discourse within political students and their future in the field when seeing part of what some call "the establishment" leave office. 

“It’s difficult because if you think about careers, it feels like our generation can’t really do much," political science and games and interactive media freshman Vivek Ailari said. "So it seems almost … powerless.”

Ailari said that he will be pursuing a career in activism rather than in politics. He feels that more change can be done this way.

Political science freshman Jameson Lanzalotto said he wants to see more representation for his generation in politics

“I believe that young voices need to be heard in the political sphere and that the older generation doesn’t really represent what young people want in general," Lanzalotto said. 

Ailari also pointed out that age demographics aren’t the only aspect being under-represented. He said the majority of the representatives are old, white males that want to only represent their own viewpoint.

Political theory and constitutional democracy freshman Jacque Gorris said he was pursuing politics because he wants to fight for himself because he felt others in politics did not.  

Gorris said he felt the older generation will never be able to represent the younger generations.

“They can try to educate themselves, but they would … never fully understand it in a way that … someone our age would because they don't put any effort like we would,” Gorris said. 

Ailari said those that have been in office for a long time have less to worry about when it comes to long-term consequences because it is "less likely to affect them."

Lanzalotto, Ailari and Gorris all agree that the U.S. government suffers from under-representation of youth and diverse individuals

“It’s been … a bit more than two centuries since the Constitution was established," Alari said. "Since then … we haven’t actually made many changes to our … baseline assumptions, which stemmed from our founders, and all of them were again in the same demographic of … rich white men.”

However, Lanzalotto said, the country may be unable to reach a “perfect representation of our country in Congress.”

 “This demographic of rich white men, they're already ... well-off in our society today, but when new problems arise for people of different diverse groups, or just new problems in general, like climate change, for example, the people who are already in power don’t need to worry too much because they have power," Aliari said. "They can live well.” 

 Ailari said he will have to deal with the lack of inaction on climate change, while those making policies will not. 

Gorris said older people don’t understand the effect they have on younger people. He said it is scary having a series of the oldest presidents in history

Lanzalotto and Ailari both stated that they would like to see an age limit of 65 for representatives of the United States. 

Ailari said that while older representatives aren't expecting to live much longer to face the consequences of their actions, the representatives still need to have a stake in the legislation they’re passing

Gorris and Ailari both expressed a desire for the younger generations to be educated. Ailari said there needs to be more education for people to realize how the political system is set up in a way that there really isn't much diversity in our representatives

“I just really hope we can get something done to fix our country," Lanzalotto said

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