The Unbearable Whiteness of Congress

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The 114th Congress may be the most diverse ever, but it’s still 80 percent white male, and 92 percent Christian. Why our elected officials (still) look nothing like us.

Cue the confetti: The new Congress sworn in on Tuesday is the most diverse in our nation’s history!

That would truly be a milestone to celebrate—until you see what that record “diversity” actually means. Ready? The breakdown of the 114th Congress is 80 percent white, 80 percent male, and 92 percent Christian.

That’s really diverse if, say, you are comparing our new Congress to the white supremacist group House Majority Whip Steve Scalise once addressed. It’s like Congress is stuck in a time warp: While our calendars read 2015, theirs reads more like 1955.

Look, I don’t care if you are a liberal or a conservative. It’s impossible to make the claim that our Congress accurately reflects the demographics of our nation. And it’s not missing by a little but a lot. If Congress accurately reflected our nation on the basis of race, about 63 percent would be white, not 80 percent. Blacks would hold about 13 percent of the seats and Latinos 17 percent.

But what do we really see? The new Senate has only two black senators. That statistic is even more striking given that earlier this week the first black person ever elected to the Senate, Edward Brooke, was laid to rest. Brooke won his seat in 1966 and served two terms. How far has Congress really evolved on race when in 50 years it has gone from one black senator to two? (Even the arguably more democratic House is only at 10 percent black members.)

Latinos, the fastest growing minority group in America, are even more underrepresented in Congress. They hold 3 percent of the Senate and a little over 7 percent of the House.

And let’s look at religion. Congress is now 92 percent Christian, resembling more to a papal enclave than our religiously diverse nation. The latest Pew Poll found that nearly 20 percent of Americans identify as atheist, agnostic, or not being affiliated with any religion. Yet there’s only one member of Congress, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who openly acknowledges she’s not a member of any religious group.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Categories: Demographics, Opinion/Editorial, Political commentary, Politics, Sociology


3 replies

  1. I don’t doubt that some of them that proclaim a religion, in fact give voice to religion but not heart.

    Sometimes I think that other ethnicities feel that only white people have authority or can get it, so they elect those that in fact don’t adequately represent them . The other is opportunity to be elected is held closely by those that fail to understand the strength of diversity and only see it as a weakness.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. After watching this new congress and their agenda, it is clear they do not work for the majority of the American people. They are passing bills with a ton of poison pills and corporate give-a-ways. They started this on day one. What is their long term goal?

    The GOP congress is up to the same old misinformation and lies. I was hoping they would be forced to get their act together and actually do something positive. Actually pass some bills that matter to us all. Instead they are going after the ACA, immigration, SS disability, abortion, while attaching this kind of crap to issues like our HLS bill. I personally think this is greedy and petty behavior by GOP leadership while they feed the crazy wing of their party for personal gain. This behavior is going to hurt the party and our trust in their ability. Their agenda damages America.

    Republicans do not have a mandate like they claim. This is what happens when only 20 percent of the American people vote and clearly not a mandate. Voter suppressing and all the new voter ID laws should be looked at. I know that our state republican leadership closed more than 1/3 of the polling places. Removed polling places from college campus areas knowing that most students do not have cars. Shortened the number of early voting days. Added all kinds of new laws and reduced access which kept the working class, students, veterans, elderly, disabled, minorities, etc from voting. They also closed the few polling places open at 7 pm while a large number of people were still working. It is clear that the republican party are keeping large numbers from voting in our state. This is shameful republican behavior for the United States of America. How can any republican defend this attack on our voting rights and nation? I do not understand their silence.

    Sorry, I went off topic. Republicans need to read and understand the constitution and the amendments. They need to stop talking about the rule of law when they are so busy undermining our laws. True, the Grand Old Party all walk, talk, look and act alike while not serving the majority. We are stuck with them until we get a massive voter turn out. With the gerrymandered states/districts, it takes a larger voter turn out to rid us of the bad (corporate funded) leaders in GOP controlled states. Talk about messed up and disheartening.

    Liked by 1 person

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