But it's easy to take that indifference to politics a bit further than might be warranted. Our Carlos Lozada reviewed a book from two political scientists that casts a very grim light on millennial interest in running for office. "The mean-spirited, broken system that has come to characterize American politics turns young people off to the idea of running for office," Lozada quotes the pair as writing. "It discourages them from aspiring, one day, to be elected leaders. It prevents them from even thinking about a career in politics."
Sure. That doesn't mean they aren't going to, though.
The organization Young Democrats of America claims a membership of 150,000. That's one organization for one party. The membership number might be inflated, but you don't need to spend very long in the proximity of political power before you see young people who are enthusiastic about running for office. There is a 31-year-old in Congress. She's not there because she hates politics. And all you need is 434 people like her -- and 434 other districts that are willing to give a 31-year-old a shot -- and you've got an all-millennial House.
Over time, here's how the composition of Congress has changed, showing decades of age as percentages. (This was compiled using data from GovTrack; not all members of Congress are represented because the data is somewhat incomplete.)
Congress has become a lot older in the last 20 years, in large part because Baby Boomers have gotten a lot older. Below, in black, are the segments of each Congress that could have been in the Baby Boom. (Since these are decades of age, the overlap between generations is not always clean.) (Also generations are made up, but whatever.)
And here are the segments of each Congress that could conceivably be millennials.
Part of the reason millennials aren't running for Congress? Only the oldest of them are old enough to, and while you technically only have to be 25 years old, there are historically very few members who get elected in their 20s.
As time passes and millennials get more experience and more status in society, more of them will run for office. The percentage of the Congress that is in its 30s has been less than 2 percent pretty consistently since the 100th Congress in 1987. That's where it is now. The percentage that is in its 40s -- where millennials will be beginning in 2020 -- is regularly an order of magnitude higher.
Another reason millennials will dominate Congress? The most common age in America right now is 23. There are a lot of millennials. Yes, there are half a million elected positions in the United States, but there are 100 million millennials. Get 0.0005 percent of them to win election to Congress, and the whole thing is millennials, on both sides of the Capitol.
That would truly be a dark day -- a government run by snake people. But we're kidding ourselves if we think that the desire for political power will skip a generation.