Why Freshman Congressmen Matter

Photo/Butch Dill
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The freshmen class of congressmen always make waves prior to taking office and throughout their term, but it’s important to understand their significance in how they influence the legislative body and the body politic at large. As these members are still energized from the campaign trail, they play a unique role in shaping the direction of their party.

Here are the three reasons why freshman congressmen matter, and typically gain more attention compared to many of their peers:

New faces mean controversy.

Many lawmakers have interesting backgrounds before heading to Washington, and lately, the headlines focus on whether somebody is breaking a barrier. For example, perhaps they’ll be the first Generation Z congressman, like Democratic Rep.-Elect Maxwell Frost, or will be one of the few black Republicans, like Rep.-Elect John James.

Of course, this also brings along increased scrutiny. Frost recently made headlines for getting denied an apartment due to his bad credit score. The fact that he was open about the experience is generating mixed reviews, and it’s serving as another example of how one’s reputation is already set before they’re even inaugurated. The same went for Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Madison Cawthorn, all of whom became figureheads of the populist wing of the party in the post-Trump era. Cawthorn lost his seat in the primary, and Boebert narrowly won her race, which means that the controversy is only a helpful sword if wielded wisely.

They help drive the narrative.

The aforementioned Greene quickly became a loud voice for the Republicans, and the Democrats had their own hyperpartisan voices as well. Who can forget when Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib formed the “squad,” which quickly became a younger, far-left counter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic establishment.

Thankfully, driving the narrative can also bring along some positives as well. Sen.-Elect Katie Britt is bringing a needed young conservative voice to the Senate, which is a huge benefit given her stable and community-oriented nature. Similarly, Rep.-Elect Juan Ciscomani could quickly emerge as a rising star in the Republican Party, as he represents a border district. As the ongoing crisis continues to rage on, Ciscomani will be a necessary voice for Republicans to have as they fight back against the complacency of the Biden administration on the issue.

They may become major players later on, or lose their spot quickly.

There are a lot of looming questions when a promising congressman enters the swamp. Will they move up the ranks? Are they just a few short years from a presidential bid? Or will they lose their seat in a competitive election next cycle? There are not only doubts about how some will be able to maintain their power, but they themselves may be wondering how to maintain relevance. In that regard, it’s important to realize that some of the hardest-working members of congress may not be in the news constantly. There are 535 of them between the House and Senate, which means not all of them can be celebrities.

It’s no secret that Washington is a dog-eat-dog world, and the most important lesson for the freshmen class is to never forget where they came from. Their job is to serve their constituents instead of simply bearing the fruits of real or perceived power.


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